The cabinets in your garage have a funny way of catching all sorts of things that can’t seem to find a place inside of your home. The thing we often forget about the garage is that it is subject to the extreme temperature changes that our homes don’t feel, largely thanks to insulation, ventilation, and climate control systems; this slight difference can have a huge impact on the following items that we find in San Francisco garage cabinets or stacked and forgotten on garage floors all the time.
Keep the Following Inside Only
There are some things that Bay Area residents can (almost) get away with, as we rarely see garages dip below the freezing point of water, and almost never reach the freezing point of other chemical substances. The trade off, however, lies in the fact that many San Francisco garages reach high temperatures and are exposed to harsher elements that can damage products, drive up energy costs, attract pests, or even endanger your family.
Store Paint Inside
In a recent blog post, we talked extensively about how concrete garage flooring absorbs and retains far more moisture than you’re likely aware of. Unfortunately, rusty circles or stacks of paint cans waiting to rust through are a common discovery in many local garages. This can be both dangerous and damaging to the paint, garage flooring, and even your household’s safety; leaking paint or primer carries with it a number of fumes, especially if it has been stored in high heat for an extended period of time. As you can imagine, most Bay Area garage cabinets get quite warm, making them the perfect place to ruin your extra paint cans. Keep your paint cans inside to avoid ruined paint or a slight, yet possible, health hazard.
After upgrading your home’s refrigerator to a brand-new, convenient, energy-efficient model, you had the idea to keep the old fridge in the garage for overflow cooling, beer chilling, and extra freezer storage. What’s the problem, you ask? Well, your refrigerator doesn’t just magically cool the food within, but uses the air around it to generate the soon-to-be-cooled air it will use to keep its interior cold. While this is no big deal for the room temperature air found in your kitchen, the often sweltering temperatures of your garage are a different story altogether; any refrigerator kept outside will work far harder to keep food cool on a warm day. Now remember the fact that your new, energy-efficient fridge is inside and you’ll begin to grasp the astronomical cost you’ve brought on. Pull the plug, sell the fridge, and enjoy greatly reduced energy bills.
While this may sound obvious to some people, a surprising number of people keep canned, pickled, or dry-storage food in their garage. Whether this is due to limited pantry space or the result of stocking up during a good sale, keeping your excess foods in the garage can be a recipe for disaster. In fact, most food has temperature warnings written clearly on the label, often in regard to the dangers associated with allowing the food to reach too high a temperature. By keeping canned or pickled food in the garage, you can actually run the risk of quicker spoiling, increased pressure, and even unintentionally create an ideal environment for botulism growth (which can be lethal). If that isn’t enough motivation, consider simply that foods stored in the garage can attract the unwanted attention of rodents, and we doubt you’ll need much more convincing.
Compressed or Pressurized Gas
Whether oxygen tanks from the last time you went SCUBA diving or the propane tank you brought inside when the weather turned sour, your gas containers are a tremendous hazard when stored in your garage. Even a slight leak in the seal of your propane, oxygen, carbon dioxide, or other compressed air can have a number of disastrous results. For starters, many of these gases are toxic to breathe in, but the larger danger lies in the chance for explosion. Heavily increased oxygen levels, for instance, may not even be immediately noticeable, but can explode from the simple starting of your vehicle. Avoid this chance for disaster by only keeping pressurized gases in areas with great circulation, outdoors, or not at all.
Keep Paper Goods Locked Up Or Kept Out
If you have open or haphazard garage storage, then you’ll want to keep paper goods out of your garage altogether; those with well-made garage cabinets can harbor the material, but only in places that rodents and insects can not get to. The simple truth about paper in the garage is that it is an ideal breeding ground for insects and provides easy nesting material for rodents. These are two things you never want to harbor in your garage or home, so it is best to keep the paper plates, stacks of documents, and other paper supplies out of the garage. If that isn’t motivation enough, consider that paper products (especially when dried by a hot garage) are incredibly flammable, and that many house fires begin in the garage.
Have you ever wondered why many California homes have pool houses or sheds for their pool equipment? While this may seem like an opulent feature reserved for the rich, it is actually serves to solve a simple need by keeping dangerous chemicals away from living spaces. Many pools use chlorine to aid in filtration and prevent bacterial growth in the water, but chlorine is actually incredibly lethal in a gas form. For this reason, pool owners are advised to never keep chlorine in a garage, especially those that are connected to the home. Likewise, other harsh chemicals such as gasoline, pesticides, oil, and many cleaning chemicals should be kept in an outdoor, detached shed or storage area. Often, these liquid chemicals become dangerous in a gaseous state, which can be achieved at high pressure (in a container) under high heat (such as those in the garage).
Too often lumped into a “storage item” and forgotten in a sweltering attic or stuffy kitchen cabinets, family photo albums often end up stored in far too warm of an environment. Nearly all paper products wilt and age more quickly in a warm environment and photos are no exception. If you store your family photos in the garage, they will be subject to dry heat in the summer and potentially humidity in the wetter months, both of which can quickly fade and damage your favorite photos. If you haven’t already, back up older photos digitally and always store them indoors for safe-keeping.
Garage Cabinets Are Still Great
You may be frustratedly wondering just what you can keep in the garage cabinets you’re dreaming of, but worry not – there are plenty of things to keep in them. In fact, you’ll find that filling your garage cabinets with safe and purposeful things will come naturally to your family. Whether they become a space for tools, hobbyist items, sports equipment, or even just extra storage, there are a great many of your possessions that can benefit from the right garage cabinets.