About a week ago, a friend called me in a panic. She realized that her sump pump failed and there was water all over her basement. After calling in the plumbers and the clean-up team, she called me to ask if there was any way that she can save her beloved childhood scrapbooks.
She told me, “While you had always told me not to store my scrapbooks in the basement, I had them up on shelves so I thought they were safe. Then, of course, my sump pump hose broke loose and sprayed the whole room from floor to ceiling with yucky water! Now what do I do?”
I told her that this is the season when many people don’t realize that lots of new things are happening around the house, even in those less-than-exciting areas of the house like the basement.
That’s right. Spring, and her sump-pump hose, have sprung!
For example, bugs are back with a vengeance this time of year. Creepy crawly creatures are making their way back to those dark areas of your basement, attic and garage.
They love to eat stuff like old paper, wood pulp, cardboard boxes and bird seed. This is right where you need one of my favorite cheap, cheap storage solutions — the plastic tub.
Store your items off the floor and in stackable plastic tubs. I suggest some of my recommended storage solutions at drloriv.com/shopping.
Stacking tubs will help to protect your belongings from water that may accumulate on the basement floor.
The plastic tubs will also help keep some of the bugs out, as bugs are not attracted to plastic like they are to wood and cardboard boxes.
Since art and antiques like consistent temperature and humidity levels, at the very least take that piece of art that you think is valuable and get it out of the basement!
As for my friend’s scrapbooks and all other paper (ephemera) keepsakes, I advised museum-quality solander boxes for storage. They are the museum standard.
Solander museum storage boxes are acid free. They are chemically inert boxes intended for the storage of flat pieces, including papers, prints, photographs, magazines, newspapers, cards, comic books and unframed art.
They are a great solution for those old photographs of great-grandma that you just can’t bring yourself to display or trash.
When it comes to art, antiques or collectibles, never store anything in wooden crates or cardboard boxes, since both of these containers are acidic. They will “off-gas” — give off damaging gases.
I’ve read where some “experts” have advised people to store baseball card collections in cardboard cigarette cartons or metal license plate collections in wooden crates.
The acid in cardboard can even damage antique china, and so can old newspapers.
Cardboard is never the solution to the storage of your heirlooms.
If you must store your keepsakes in the basement, consider investing in a dehumidifier, solander boxes and plastic tubs.
And always keep an eye on your sump pump!
With a Ph. D. from Penn State University, Lori Verderame is an award-winning antiques appraiser on History channel’s hit show “The Curse of Oak Island” — highlighting the world’s oldest treasure hunt, For information about your antiques and collectibles, visit www.DrLoriV.com and www.YouTube.com/DrLoriV