Everyone dreams of a clean garage. Some people achieved this out of necessity during the coronavirus pandemic to make space at home for exercising or storing unneeded office clothes.
But the goal of a tidy garage should also be that there’s nothing in it that risks your health and safety.
“As we head into the summer months it’s important to think about what’s stored in your garage,” says Dawn Lee, vice president of Pemco insurance product and underwriting. “Now is the perfect time to take an inventory and remove anything that could be a safety hazard, fire or otherwise.”
Uncontrolled temperature and humidity in a garage can also damage furniture, electronics, clothes and sleeping bags. Important documents, treasured photos and printed books that can be ruined by mildew should not be kept in a garage, said experts.
If any of these items are inside your garage, remove them, said Pemco professionals who assess risks for a living.
Propane tanks and lawnmower gas: Propane tanks could explode in a fire and potentially start one: A leaking tank could spark a fire if fumes connect with an ignition source. Store propane tanks on a flat stable surface, far from an open flame or in a shed away from the house, where you also should keep your lawnmower gas.
Food: Edibles attract rodents and can go bad quickly from exposure to uncontrolled humidity and temperatures. Even canned food should be stored in a cool, dry place (50 to 70 degrees) to prevent rust from forming on lids. If you must store pet food or birdseed in the garage, put the bags in clean metal garbage cans with lids to keep rodents out.
Firewood: Wood dries poorly in a garage due to inadequate air circulation and insects on the wood can enter your home. A Pemco insurance client had a home inundated with fleas after bringing in firewood containing unhatched fleas. instead, stack firewood outside or in an open-sided shed away from your house. Bring in only the amount you need for that day’s fire.
- Woodland Direct has firewood stackers from four to 16 feet long. An eight-foot-long firewood stacker is $229, which includes shipping).
Paint: Temperature and humidity extremes in a garage can cause unused paint to degrade. Paint cans left on the floor also tend to rust quickly. When you finish a paint project, save a small amount for touch-ups. Recycle the bulky cans and remaining paint.
- Touch-up paint rollers ($12.92) can be stored in a closet and used to touch up marks or scrapes on paint
Electronics: Temperature and humidity changes are hard on delicate electronic components. It’s better to store them in a closet or under your bed. If you’re hanging on to old electronics because you don’t know what to do with them, Oregon E-Cycles and E-Cycle Washington can help you find free recycling drop-off sites near you.
Furniture: Humidity causes wood to swell and warp. Also, upholstered furniture will quickly develop musty odors from dampness and exposure to exhaust fumes. The same is true for clothes and sleeping bags.
Sell unused furniture on a secondhand site, donate it or invest in temperature-controlled temporary storage. If you must store furniture in your garage for a short time, get it up off the concrete floor to minimize exposure to moisture.
Documents, books and photos: High humidity in garages causes paper to deteriorate and mildew. Photos fade and stick together. They’re better off inside a closet, stored in a waterproof plastic container.
Here are garage storage solution sources:
Home Depot has garage workbenches, shelving, cabinets, storage systems, wall organization ideas, utility carts and more. A 15-piece modular garage wall panel storage set with storage hooks and shelves is on sale at $335.87 (save $59.28).
Home Square has garage storage items including cabinets and shelving on sale.
The Container Store has garage storage and organization ideas for sports equipment and bikes, storage bags and boxes, shelving, track systems, tool holders, parts boxes, car cleaning and other items. as well as recycling bins.
- Take up to 25% off Elfa garage systems
- A steel frame holding two large, wire-grid bins gets sports gear organized and off the floor ($79.99)
Garage Organization is having a Father’s Day sale with up to 35% off. Find:
— Compiled by Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072