John O'Hagan

Protect your possessions with these simple tips.

By Kelly Brown Tomas

Living by the shore can take a toll on items stored outside, butthe coastal climate can prove just as punishing to possessions youkeep inside. Follow this advice for safe, dry indoor storage toprevent problems and avoid costly repairs.

Think it through
If you're renovating or building, locate storage rooms andclosets away from extreme heat and moisture. When adding shelves,rods, or organization units to existing closets, use ventilatedsteel or ventilated hardwood to maximize air circulation.

If necessary, add insulation to closet walls to help controlmoisture. Where insects or animals pose a threat, consider a cedaror cedar-lined closet. Retrofitting existing spaces is easy withprecut planks or panels, available at most home improvement stores.Or visit cedarsafeclosets.com or cedar-closet-linings.com.

Keep it dry
If your home is prone to excessive humidity, consider addingmoisture-absorbing products to storage areas. Three widelyavailable non-toxic and eco-friendly options are DampRid, DryOut,and Damp Check.

Air it out
Keeping storage spaces well-ventilated is key to preventingmoisture buildup. Crack open closet doors or replace solid doorswith louvered panels to permit air exchange. Hang clothes looselyso air can circulate around them. To remove moisture and airbornepollutants, install a closet fan that vents moisture outside.Broan-Nutone, Panasonic, and GE offer a variety of fans that areboth quiet and energy-efficient.

Make it work
The combination of heat and humidity on the coast creates anenvironment that's attractive to insects and mold spores. You can'teliminate all moisture from your home, but these tips will helpkeep it in check.

• Seal air leaks.
• Keep kitchen, closet, and bath fans unobstructed.
• Make sure air-conditioner drain lines flow properlyand drip pans are clean.
• Have a professional check heating and cooling systemsto make sure they're the right size for your home.
• Track the humidity level inside with an inexpensivehygrometer. Percentages above or below 50 may indicate the air istoo moist or too dry.

How to Speak Fluent Contractor
Humidity is the amount of water vapor suspended in the air.Most experts agree that humidity levels above 50 percent fostermold, rot, and pest problems. Condensation refers to the drops ofwater that form from water vapor. Like the ring left on a table bya cold glass of water, excess condensation in a home can damagewalls, ceilings, and possessions.

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