An archive storage environment requires optimal conditions to preserve its stored artifacts. Otherwise, items degrade and might be vulnerable to mold damage, depending on the temperature and relative humidity levels. By knowing the signs of a poorly regulated archive storage environment, you can take quick action to remedy the situation and prevent costly damage.
Archive Storage Environment Red Flags
- Contents show signs of fading or discoloration: Too much light or the wrong type of light causes photographs, artwork, prints, documents, fabrics, film and other items stored in an archive to fade, discolor and deteriorate. Use heavy curtains to block sunlight that enters the room, as ultraviolet light is the most damaging. According to the U.S. National Archives, normal light levels in storage areas should “not exceed 500 lux measured 36 inches above the floor level.” When lighting is not required for safety purposes, the storage area should remain dark.
- Condensation appears on or between windowpanes: Condensation forms on window glass when relative humidity levels are too high or the window seal has damage. Leaving the issue unaddressed may result in mold damage to contents and the building, as well as energy losses.
- Mold spots on walls or the ceiling: High relative humidity levels promote mold growth, which gets worse when there is a lack of ventilation. Mold growth on walls or a ceiling may also indicate the presence of an undetected leak.
- Musty smells: When stored correctly, archived items should not smell bad, regardless of age. A stale or musty smell indicates the presence of mold, as the odor is generally the byproduct of their waste. In addition to having a distinct smell, mold might cause documents to yellow.
- Water runoff: Building basements sometimes show water level marks or water spots when it rains, particularly if the property has poor drainage or the building doesn’t have an adequate moisture barrier. Because basements have a higher risk of experiencing water damage, it is best to keep archived items on a building’s upper levels.
- Pests: While it’s normal to see a roaming insect occasionally, it is not normal to see them often or in larger quantities. Pests thrive in warm, humid environments. Depending on the species, they feed on dust, pollen, linens, cellulose materials, paste, glue, food crumbs and mold. Keeping a storage environment clean, cool and dry goes a long way toward preventing costly infestations.
- Allergy symptoms worsen: When allergy symptoms seem to worsen in a seemingly clean archive storage area, this could indicate the presence of mold. Its growth may be the result of high relative humidity levels, excess moisture, poor ventilation, HVAC problems, dirty ductwork, or a leak in the ductwork.
Archive storage areas often require different environmental conditions from the rest of the building. Because an HVAC unit’s purpose is to maintain occupant comfort, it might not effectively provide the right temperatures and relative humidity levels in storage areas. Rather than rely on an HVAC system, a better option is to use the independent climate control solutions from Polygon. These solutions monitor the environment to create ideal conditions. If you encounter mold or water damage on archived items, call Polygon immediately. Specialists will work quickly to restore the affected items and create the ideal conditions to prevent future damage. Talk to a Polygon representative today to learn more.
[Photo from Avacados via CC License 2.0]