This is an article on what not to store in your crawl space. Preferably, you wouldn’t store anything in your crawl space. However, sometimes you just need a little extra storage.
Porous materials are at the top of the my list of what not to store in your crawl space. When you store things like cardboard or clothing in your crawl space, you create a feeding ground for fungus. You need your crawl space to air out and dry out relatively quickly. This is for health and to prevent damage to the house or belongings. If you have a lot of things that hold moisture, your crawl space cannot dry out as easily.
The porous belongings ruin very quickly. If not for the mold and mildew, bugs will also love your moist belongings.
Flammable objects in your crawl space pose a safety risk to you and your family. They can also cause a total loss of your home that may not be covered by insurance (depending entirely on the terms of your policy).
Spare propane, lighter fluid, gasoline, and all those other combustible substances should be kept away from the house. A shed at least 30 feet from your house is best if possible.
With flammable substances, you need to keep them far away from heat sources, especially things like your furnace and hot water heater.
There is also a lot of potential for extreme heats, moisture, bugs, and rodents in your crawl space that can affect the safety of the substances’ containers. The risk is still low, but it still isn’t worth the risk.
You should never store expensive items in your crawl space. On top of the risk of damaged by moisture, flooding, bugs, rodents, heat, or cold, you run the risk of theft. Your crawl space is less secure than your house, which makes it an easy target for someone to break into.
You may be thinking: “no one is going to break into a crawl space,” and hopefully you’re right. Unfortunately, people do.
Electronics hate extreme heat and any amount of moisture. Crawl spaces are the worst place for electronics.
Even electronics you’re never going to use again are terrible to be stored in your crawl space. The components will rust and break down overtime and many batteries, capacitors, and other parts of electronics contain toxic or harmful chemicals you do not want anywhere near your house.
The best thing to do is bring broken electronics to the proper disposal location. In Durham, we have the Waste Disposal and Recycling Center at 2115 East Club Boulevard, Durham, NC.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but throw your trash away. Don’t store it under your house. That attracts bugs and rodents. Additionally, decomposition can harm your house’s structure.
If you don’t know how to dispose of something, Durham has a really great tool where you can search by item type! Check it out! Just click on the What goes where button next to the “My Schedule.”
Wood is food for termites. Especially when you’re storing untreated lumber or older wood, you’re asking for trouble.
Besides termites, you can also get ants, bees, beetles, and other insects that live in wood or feed off of it.
Once the wood begins to rot, it will continue to rot until you take care of it. And, that rot can spread to the wooden portions of your house, which you desperately do not want to decompose.
You shouldn’t store furniture in your crawl space for the same reasons as porous materials and wood. It can become a great source of mold and mildew as well as home for pests and rot.
Even metal furniture shouldn’t be stored in a crawl space because it can rust and cause metal things near it to rust. You want to protect the furnace, water heater, and building hardware as much as you can. They’re expensive to replace.
If you don’t have a need for your furniture, get rid of it or repurpose it!
Paper is incredibly easy to decompose compared to other materials. Additionally, it holds moisture and is flammable. It is basically the trifecta of bad things to have beneath your house.
Also, generally when people store paper, it is because those papers are important. If they’re important, they shouldn’t be where they’ll likely get ruined.
Crawlspaces can flood. Keep that in mind when storing anything, but especially paper.
It may seem silly to have to say, but you shouldn’t store food in your crawl space. It’s a great place for mold to grow or vermin to live, so keeping your food there is just asking for food poisoning.
You shouldn’t even store emergency rations in your crawl space. Again, vermin and mold exist here more than anywhere else in and around your home.
If You Must
If you absolutely must store something in your crawlspace, here’s a few tips to help reduce the chances of very bad things happening.
- Keep the objects more than 1 foot from any support structure. This keeps termites from getting to the wood of your home if they do feast on your belongings.
- Keep everything off the ground. Built a platform out of cinder blocks, hard plastic, treated wood, or treated rust-resistant metal. This will help keep moisture from the ground getting into your stuff.
- Keep your stuff in sealed plastic containers. The more water proof your containers, the better.
- Check on your stuff! You should check periodically to ensure your belongings are fine. Also, take that opportunity to reassess whether you need the things you’re storing.
- No trash or food stuff. Can’t repeat this enough. Never ever store trash in your crawl space unless you love rodents, bugs, and disease.