The purpose of owning a safe is to keep valuable items protected from losses, such as thefts, fading, fires and water damage. The next step to keeping your items secure is to protect them from incidents that may occur from within the safe, such as mold and mildew damage. When exposed to mold, coins, jewelry, firearms, passports, deeds, birth certificates and other items lose their value or effectiveness. By preventing moisture in a safe, you’ll keep your belongings in good condition and retain their worth.
Items that Require Protection from Moisture and Humidity
- Paper documents: Excess humidity or trapped moisture inside a safe creates a breeding ground for mold and mildew, especially when documents serve as a food source.
- Photographs and negatives: Excess moisture in a safe can cause pictures to deteriorate or stick to each other, glass frames and other surfaces. The same is true for film negatives, which also break down when exposed to high humidity levels for too long.
- Coins: While an interesting patina on coins can make them look unique, high humidity levels can make them tarnish and decrease in value.
- Firearms: Moisture on firearms leads to rust and corrosion on the metal parts, as well as deterioration of wooden stocks.
Tips for Preventing Mold in a Safe
- Open the safe every two weeks and let it air out for 20 minutes.
- Place pictures, valuable coins, jewelry and other delicate items in airtight containers before storing them in a safe.
- Store a safe in a dry area of a home or building. Avoid high humidity areas, such as basements.
- Ensure the airtight seal on the safe is intact.
- Ensure the items that you place in a safe are dry before storing them.
- Use a box of baking soda, pouches filled with charcoal, a small jar filled with cat litter or desiccant packs inside a safe to absorb dampness and reduce odors. Replace baking soda, charcoal pouches and cat litter ever six months. If using desiccant packs, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If you have a larger safe or live in an area with high relative humidity levels, consider using an electric dehumidifier within the safe. These devices contain a desiccant material that absorbs excess moisture. After the dehumidifier absorbs the maximum amount of moisture, you simply plug it into an outlet or place it in a low-heat oven to dry out the device and use it again.
- Acclimatize a new safe before using it. When you purchase a safe during the winter, it may feel cool to the touch when you bring it indoors. Incidentally, condensation may form in and around the safe. Acclimatizing the safe while keeping the door open for 24 hours prevents you from trapping excess moisture.
What to Do if Items in a Safe become Moldy
As soon as you notice mold or a musty smell, remove the items from the safe and allow them air-out in a dry environment that has good air circulation. Clean the safe using a bleach-based cleanser to kill the mold within it. As you clean the safe, inspect it for areas that may have allowed moisture to enter, such as broken seals.
Clean and dry the contents of the safe before storing them again. You may require professional cleaning and restoration services to assist with this task. When documents or photos have mold growth, for example, a document restoration service will use gentle, effective cleaning techniques that restore items and prevent future damage.
Staying dry is the key to preventing mold in a safe. Follow the safe manufacturer’s instructions regarding the best types of desiccants to use in your safe to keep the contents within it mold-free. If mold already affected delicate or irreplaceable items, contact a restoration specialist, like Polygon. The sooner you call the less of a chance you give mold to do more damage.