Waterproof storage for a humid shared basement, not trashbags.
August 20, 2015 8:27 AM   Subscribe

We have a nice small place in a large building. The basement is damp and has had some mold issues and we have no hope that paper (e.g., books) will not be damaged if we put it in normal boxes. But, we also have a growing family and limited space. Some stuff will go to the curb, but we need a waterproof storage solution. Are there waterproof storage solutions that are a step above trashbags in a rubbermaid? Something affordable but decent?
posted by history is a weapon to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
On the advice of The Sweethome we are converting to the Ziploc Weathershield boxes (under the "upgrade" section in the article for better lids + locking). They have a foam weatherstrip in the channel to keep out moisture.

The big ones have been kind of hard to find in stores, though - we've been getting them a couple at a time.
posted by bookdragoness at 8:31 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Trashbags are not waterproof - you need something that zips shut. Ziploc has giant bags that aren't too expensive. They also have Spacebags for larger items.
posted by soelo at 9:10 AM on August 20, 2015

I have used ziploc spacebags inside of plastic totes successfully while traveling, which included copious rain. The crates were tarped in back of a pickup truck. There are cheaper versions of the spacebags; they aren't as sturdy. Moisture is insidious, and will get in. Maybe add some silicon gel packets to the plastic crates. They absorb moisture, and help to regulate any damp that sneaks in. At my old job, the hardware setup person saved me a bucket of silica packs. Storing books in a damp area is seldom a happy experience. Maybe books inside a contractor bag, taped securely, inside a tote. Maybe. A fan will reduce mold and mildew even in a damp area.
posted by theora55 at 9:51 AM on August 20, 2015

Similiar to what bookdragoness suggested, I recently found these Weather Tight Plastic Storage Boxes.
posted by terrapin at 10:00 AM on August 20, 2015

The Container Store's watertight totes have excellent reviews. They come in many sizes, and they're affordable.

I would still pack them on a dry day and include silica packets.
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:02 AM on August 20, 2015

If the basement is a large common area, it's probably not feasible to install a dehumidifier, but you could check with management (if you rent) or the co-op or condo board (if you own). My basement became much better for storage when I installed a dehumidifier; I got one that pumps water to the basement sink drain, so it doesn't need to be emptied by hand.

Otherwise, I'd second double-wrapping with something like Ziploc spacebags and weather tight boxes, with a few silica gel packets inside each container (i.e. both the bag and the box).
posted by brianogilvie at 10:33 AM on August 20, 2015

Also came to suggest silica gel packets to add to the tote you eventually pick. They're also great to have on-hand if you get your phone dunked. Much more effective than rice for drying soaked electronics.
posted by quince at 10:40 AM on August 20, 2015

Airtight pet food containers, depending on what size you need!
posted by corey flood at 10:43 AM on August 20, 2015

I had totes that were supposed to be water proof and the contents got destroyed by mildew over a six month period, including some beloved stuffed animals. Whatever you decide to use, make frequent inspections until you are sure nothing is going wrong. A system that looks good might not be as airtight as you hope. My totes that allowed the contents to go mouldy were perfectly water tight to rain on other occasions but failed when they were stored in a room that was not heated enough in the winter.
posted by Jane the Brown at 12:24 PM on August 20, 2015

I think your only hope is weathertight storage boxes (the kind that seal with a gasket) with desiccant inside (you can buy bulk bags so that you can use a lot, instead of those little packets).

Anything that doesn't have a locking seal will be completely useless as it won't be airtight. Any system based on a plastic bag is bound to fail eventually when the bag gets holes in it. Lighter bags, like trash bags, may even be too permeable to water vapour for long term storage (leaving aside the difficulty of sealing them properly). You need airtight to keep the moist air out - not waterproof. And you definitely need desiccant as a backup, because no container is perfect.
posted by ssg at 1:08 PM on August 20, 2015

Get a silica gel canister that can be recharged. Every few months you throw the silica gel canister in the oven for a few hours, and it will drive the water off that it soaked up.
posted by gregr at 1:44 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

As a note, the Ziploc weathertight is a rebranded version of the Container Store totes linked above. So both are awesome!

I just don't have a Container Store near me.
posted by bookdragoness at 12:16 PM on August 21, 2015

« Older "I want to tell you how much I love you." in...   |   Mirena: what am I in for? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.