The garage is the perfect place to store the things you may not use anymore or may only use at certain times of the year. But, there are just some things that shouldn’t go in there. Here are ten things you should never keep in your garage.
10. Major Appliances
Refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, tumble dryers and anything else that generally fits into this category should NOT be kept in a garage. That’s because most of these items work best at certain temperatures. Sweltering temperatures in the summer can cause your fridge to overwork to keep food cool, running up your energy bill at the same time. Refrigerators operate less efficiently at temperatures below 50 degrees and will stop running altogether at temperatures below 30 degrees. Cold temperatures affect the efficiency of tumble dryers as well.
As for washing machines and freezers, Good Housekeeping magazine says it’s okay to keep them in a garage… if you “proceed with caution.” “Be aware there could be problems with condensation resulting from the heat and steam created during use,” the magazine wrote on its website. And, when it comes to freezers, they all have “climate class ratings that tell you the best external operating temperature for them. Check the instructions or the rating plate.”
9. Propane Tanks
If propane leaks in an enclosed, unventilated area, the smallest little thing can ignite a fire–starting your car, using your cellphone, even flipping on the light switch could do it! A leak can also put you at risk for asphyxiation. With that said, propane tanks should always be kept outdoors, preferably away from your home. And, they should be screwed tightly shut. If it’s winter, cover the tanks. If, however, you absolutely must store fuel in your garage, make sure you put it in dedicated, leak-proof containers and place those containers on a flat surface away from water heaters, power tools, or anything else that could possibly cause an ignition. Also, make sure you keep stored fuel out of the reach of children and pets.
8. Important Documents
If you don’t want your important documents to get damaged, you’d better not store them in your garage. The unpredictable climate in garages is a surefire way to destroy your birth certificates, family photographs, and other paper goods. But, it’s not just the temperatures or humidity you have to worry about. Paper products attract roaches and other bugs, which can destroy your important documents. Pollutants can destroy them, too. Instead, keep all your important documents inside your home in a dry, safe place.
7. A Running Generator
You shouldn’t leave a running generator in your garage for the same reason you shouldn’t leave a running car in the garage with the door shut… carbon monoxide poisoning. But, get this: even if the door is open, carbon monoxide from a running generator can still build up to deadly amounts. According to an article published by Reader’s Digest, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends placing a running generator in a protected area at least 20 feet from your home.
6. Wooden Furniture
The moisture and temperature fluctuations that are common to garages make them one of the worst places to store wooden furniture. As the wood swells and contracts, it will most definitely end up being cracked, warped, and delaminated. In fact, it’s best to avoid storing any furniture in there at all. That’s because pests can get in there and make nests out of couch cushions. The best place to store your furniture is in a place where the temperature is consistent, such as the attic.
Why shouldn’t you store food in a garage? Well, for one, critters can sniff it out and get into it. “Fresh food will attract vermin even if closed. It’s not uncommon for these creatures to break holes in bags and chow down,” Emily Patterson, a home safety and security expert for ASecureLife.com, told Realtor.com. But, it’s not just human food. Pet food and birdseed can attract animals, too, so make sure you store it inside your home.
Here’s something else you may not have known. Canned food shouldn’t be stored in a garage either. But, they’re non-perishables, right? Right–except at certain temperatures. Anything less than 50 degrees and more than 70 degrees can damage canned goods. For example, a garage exceeding 85 degrees can cause the food to spoil. Dampness and humidity can cause tin cans and metal lids on glass jars to rust, which, in turn, can cause a chemical reaction with the food in the can. To be on the safe side, store your canned goods in a cool, dry place like a pantry.
You should avoid keeping your tires in a standard garage because of the climate inside at certain times of the year. A standard garage is a place that can be very hot, humid, wet, or cold. High heat can break down the rubber in your tires. And, if it gets too cold, your tires can freeze. Instead, keep them in a cool, dry place like a basement or workshop. A cool, dark, airtight space like a trash bag is even better. It’ll keep the lubricating oil in the tire compounds from evaporating. But, if you insist on storing them in a garage, make sure it’s a climate-controlled garage.
The garage may seem like the ideal place to store paint, but it isn’t. Extreme cold or heat can ruin paint–even if the cans are sealed airtight. The color can change, and in extreme cold, the paint can freeze. Plus, leaving the cans on the concrete floor can cause them to rust faster. There is one condition, though: “If the weather’s temperate, and you’re in the process of painting the house, it’s okay to stick a half-full paint can in the garage overnight,” Bob Vila said in an article published on his website. “If you don’t plan to paint again for a few months, however, tap the lid tightly in place and stash it in a basement or utility closet until you need it.”
When in doubt, follow the storage recommendations on the can’s label.
2. Car Batteries
Did you know that if you lay a car battery on the concrete floor of your garage, or any concrete surface for that matter, the concrete can drain the battery? That’s because concrete is porous. So, when it collects moisture, that moisture is then transferred to whatever is sitting on top of it. Teris Pantazes, co-founder of EFynch.com, an online handyman community in Baltimore and Washington, DC, told Realtor.com that newer batteries are less affected by external moisture. Still, to be on the safe side, place it on wood or cardboard if you’re going to store it on the garage floor, Pantazes added. But, your best bet of all is to just not keep it on the floor, Pantazes also said.
Fluctuating temperatures and humidity levels typically found in garages can ruin internal printed circuit boards and cause electronics to short out. But, believe it or not, it’s not just the climate you have to worry about. You probably didn’t know that small insects can get inside of electronic devices and damage their components as well. The best place to keep electronics, even those you may not use that often, is in a dry basement or on a shelf in a closet inside your home.
Have you ever kept any of the items on this list in your garage? Tell us about it. We’d love to hear from you!