There are lots of things that seem like they might belong in a shed or other outbuilding, but actually don’t, as moisture and temperature can affect things stored in uninsulated and non-climate controlled environments. Some sheds and garages are insulated, but rust, corrosion, and other types of damage can occur if you don’t know the ins and outs of outdoor storage. Here’s how to keep yourself and your stuff safe while utilising your outdoor storage effectively.
Safety first: There are some downright no’s
Where temperature is a factor, there are some materials that are downright unsafe to keep in outdoor storage. Anything combustible, like propane tanks, batteries, or spray paints shouldn’t be stored where temperatures can get above 50 degrees Celsius because they could explode. Propane tanks can also leak propane into an enclosed space, where it can accumulate and possibly catch fire.
Although the outdoor temperature may not be as hot as 50 degrees, keep in mind that heat can get trapped in an enclosed space. If you’re not sure of the temperature inside your shed, you can use a thermometer to check, but always follow the motto: “When in doubt, leave it out.”
You want to avoid heat damage
Even when the temperature isn’t dangerous, it can still ruin things. Garden chemicals, paint, and cleaning products can degrade when exposed to heat. Make sure to check the labels on any kind of chemicals you want to store to make sure the space you’re using doesn’t go above the maximum heat exposure listed on the package. Taking this step will not only save you money, but also avoid the hassle of replacing your damaged materials.
You also want to avoid low-temperature damage
Low temperatures can also be destructive: Paint that has been frozen and thawed will often change consistency; batteries can also lose their charge if they’re kept for long periods of time at below-freezing temperatures. Although it might seem that batteries for tools like a screw gun or weed whacker should be stored in an outbuilding, it might cause the batteries to wear out more quickly. There are labels on most battery packs that will alert you to the minimum safe storage temperature, and they’re easy to ignore, but read them. It’s also important to remember that water expands when it freezes, so any liquid containing water that is stored in a glass container is in danger of breaking the glass when it freezes.
Be aware of moisture levels
Moisture can also cause damage to tools and other materials stored in a shed, even if they aren’t directly exposed to rain or water. Humidity in the air can cause condensation as the temperature changes, causing rust or corrosion. This is especially important to remember when it comes to sharpened tools like saws or shears because it can dull the blades. Regular oiling can cut down on this damage, but in damp or humid climates it’s better to just store these types of tools inside in a dry place.
Protect your things from shed pests
There’s another type of damage to consider when you’re planning to keep something in an outbuilding: Pests. Pet food, plant seeds, or even bulk food items can attract pests that will not only ruin the products you’re trying to protect, but also take up residence in your shed.
Mice and other rodents can carry diseases that are dangerous to people, and you could get sick just from coming in contact with their droppings. Most outbuildings aren’t meant to keep critters out, and attracting them to your yard can cause other problems, so it’s better to keep anything they might like to eat inside the house where they can’t get at it.
And finally, keep indoor items indoors
In addition to the things mentioned here, the basic rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t keep things in a shed that would ordinarily belong inside. Indoor furniture and electronics can be damaged by moisture and pests, and limiting your shed to store things like outdoor appliances, lawn furniture, shovels, and yard equipment is a great way to keep the clutter out of your living spaces, and will keep you and your shed safe.