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Mold damage and storage of family history.

Posted · 45 Comments

After receiving a large mold cleaning job here at the lab, we put our Abatement Specialist to work cleaning and organizing this collection for storage while the owner was re-building his house.
There were boxes and boxes of family photos, family books, collector items, art objects and paintings….all exposed to mold!
After cleaning all items, we now set to organizing them for storage. We find that an easy way to know what you have and where to locate things is to photograph each item, assign it a number, and log it into a file, either on computer or in a binder.  We do both.  You can make notes there….about the condition of an object, painting, or book, dates you worked on something or even reminders to yourself. We then do a print-out of that file and put it into a binder as a copy for the client.  After carefully packing each item, putting precious items into a “zip-lock” baggy for extra protection or organizing “by-year” photos (you can find giant zip-lock bags for large items @ Home Depot and Osh)…TAPE an Inventory List Sheet, which has been put into a page protector, to the outside of the crate.  Clear crate containers are handy to quickly & easily identify your items.  If they are all the same kind they’ll stack well too. The number of each item can appear on the Inventory List sheet.  Add a second sheet to the inside of your box, just in case the outside sheet gets damaged in moving….Happy Preserving & Storage!

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45 Responses to "Mold damage and storage of family history."
  1. Just wanted to let you know that this is a great blog. Thanks

  2. WP Themes says:

    Good article and this helped me a lot in my college assignment. Thank you for your information.

  3. Andrew Pelt says:

    Hmm… Interesting! I always love reading the posts on this website. But then, this last week we got water in the house and I came to your website for help. Thanks for all the good info.

  4. Billie Jackson says:

    Mold creeps me out. How do I protect myself from allergies and getting sick? And what about the stains?

    • Scott says:

      Hey Billie. My allergies kicked into gear a couple of weeks ago on a job site. I was only wearing my mask MOST of the time. Wear a carbon filter mask at ALL times! As for the stains, I’d have to know what was stained to give you advise. Stay in touch and good luck.

  5. Hollis Cintora says:

    There’s a wealth of knowledge here and I like it. Thanks too for the free tips. Send them along and keep me updated.

  6. That’s terrible that all of their family photos and valuables were exposed to mold! I don’t think I have the patience to organize everything so extensively like that, but I’m sure it’s a life saver when you need to find something.

    I just recently wrote a blog post about how a dehumidifier is a great way to protect family heirlooms and valuables like photo albums when they’re kept in storage, especially in a basement or crawl space. Those items are irreplaceable and should be stored safely.

  7. Scott says:

    Thanks for the comments Christine. Keep an eye on humidifiers as they can increase the humidity levels to dangerous mold levels if they go out of control, get leaks etc.

    From pros like you, I know you value good accurate info from other experts. Keep coming back to our blog. I make an effort to contribute good stories and tips often. In the “Products/Services” section there are free downloads and my book has quite a bit in it about water damage on photos, papers, books, and other items too.

  8. Hey, this is a very nice blog! Thanks for the heads up! I’ll sign up for the free tips.

  9. Janice Ligne says:

    Excellent thanks for your information. Making my scrapbook archival is very important to me and your info on this blog about photos is great. I never thought of it in terms of emergency preparedness before. I just wanted my stuff to last. But I totally see how your info can save my memories. So, thanks! I’ll get a copy of your book.

    • Scott says:

      Good to hear from you Janice.
      I am speaking at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando Florida at the end of the month (March 2010). So, you can see, I take the emergency preparedness part of my message very seriously.

  10. Aron Franklin says:

    I am not going to be original as I can see everyone else that comments on these posts thinks they are great too. I really don’t have a question but I appreciate knowing where I can go to ask. With all the earthquakes news, floods etc it makes you think. I signed up for the tips and your book looks good. Thanks for your efforts to do a quality website.

  11. Thank you for all the great posts! I look forward to reading your blog, because they are always full of information that I can put to use. Thank you again, and God bless you.

  12. Terry says:

    We really enjoy what you write here on your posts. We try and come back to your blog every day, so keep up the good writing! Disaster and emergency preparedness are so important with you think about what there is to loose. I lost some photos once that made me sad for a month… and it could have been prevented. I can’t imagine if they had been vintage family photos!

    • Scott says:

      Thanks Terry for your comment. I’ve been traveling lately consulting on a mold project. Ugly stuff! Remember, you don’t need to reorganize ALLLLLLL your stuff just because you are going to improve your storage. Label the containers and get back to organizing later. Remember your priorities… and your first priority is to SAVE and protect your stuff… not organize the world.

  13. Alyssa says:

    Mold is always a problem with paperwork.. for some reason photos seem to always absorb moisture before anything else does! Is it worth trying to preserve them better by putting sheets of archival paper between them?

  14. Scott says:

    Good question Alyssa. The reason that photos seem to stick together or react to water first is because they have an emulsion on the surface that reacts to water: you’re not just taking about paper.

    Interleaving is a good technique but paper, archival or not, will stick to photos. They make a release paper for this exact reason and it can be bought at conservation suppliers like Light Impressions.

    This question was a good one for those who don’t want to put together a scrapbook or photo album but would rather to use the “shoe box method” instead. Using the right materials, this can be an archival way to store photos.

  15. Phillis Lakin says:

    Love the info on here. I find alot of it very useful with the flood damage to my family stuff. Thanks for sharing this. I have learned alot!

  16. Lacy Stevens says:

    Mold damage turns into a huge expense unless you stop it in time. Not to mention the fact that it can be dangerous to your health. So it seems, the obvious solution would be to avoid it altogether. The problem is that many people don’t plan ahead to ensure protection.

    • Scott says:

      Thanks for your comment. You are absolutely correct that preparing in advance can avoid many problems and heartache. I have other posts on utilizing large storage bins/containers and about where to store things to avoid water damage and mold.

  17. Hilary Benedict says:

    It is extremely interesting for me to read this post. Thank you for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to family history and collectibles. I’ll definitely poke around more on this blog. By the way, pretty good design your site has… it looks customized?

  18. Stacie says:

    Hiya, great site. I’ve been trying to get more organised and stop my stuff from any potential damage and your site has helped with a lot of it. I now have well sealed boxes everywhere and lists of what’s in them… my husband is wondering what’s going on! You have some good info on here though, please keep it up.

  19. Ella Banster says:

    Mold creeps me out so thanks for helping to make it seems not so bad. I was all worried about finding a special art store bottle of mold remover and my phone call to you today really simplified the problem for me. Thanks VERY much.

  20. Wendy Yager says:

    I came here from like the other person said and this info is a big help. It gives me some peace of mind to think I can (and will!) do something to protect my stuff. Nice article. Thank you for this info.

  21. Ellen Saes says:

    Thanks for the very good explanation! Looks like hurricanes are in my future this year and that it going to be a difficult season. So, thanks for the info. As you suggested, we should all go check out too. Well done.

  22. James Birmingham says:

    These tips could be used at home too. We’ve just moved into a new house after the last one flooded so we’re really looking for some ways to store stuff that we don’t want on display or stuff we want to keep for the kids. I like the idea of putting a list of what’s in the box on the outside. Thanks for letting me know that the storage tubs you can buy at the warehouse is archival. Good stuff.

  23. Mary Swingfield says:

    It was certainly interesting for me to read this article with all the water we’ve had in our part of Essex. Thanx for writing it and making it interesting to read. BTW, pretty good design you have at this site and its nice to come back and see it changing all the time. I’ve downloaded some of the free stuff and I’ll get a copy of your book. Thanks!

  24. Deborah Siccum says:

    Great experience, dude! Thanks for this great story about family history stuff… it’s very wonderful report cause it applies to a mess I’m in. I’ll sign up for tips and get the downloads. Awesome!

  25. Bella Smith says:

    It is rather interesting for me to read that blog. It boils up a lot of emotions because of past damage I’ve had on things I love. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to this matter and really appreciate your expertise. like others have commented, THANKS!. I definitely want to read more on this blog soon so keep posting.

    Bella Smith

    • Scott says:

      You can click on the auto updates to stay in touch. I add to this blog all the time. Also, connect with us on Facebook on “Save Your Stuff” and we have other pages too that you’ll see once you are there.

  26. Hilary Swenson says:

    Great post you’ve got here. Thanks to the author for it. I like these types of topics very much as we do a lot of scrapbooking. Storage and protection are BIG issues for me, that I worry about. My gosh! I can’t imagine loosing it all!! Thanks for helping me to prepare and know what to do. May I give your free download to the ladies in my scrapbooking group?

    • Scott says:

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, feel free to pass along our info but please keep two things in mind:
      1. Some of our writings are copyrighted so please don’t copy them and…
      2. Please give us credit for the free downloads you pass along and refer people to our websites!
      All my best.

  27. Anete Benedict says:

    Thanx for this info. It seems there isn’t anything similar in Switzerland or surround countries where we can get similar info and help… we’ve checked! Preservation info for important family needs is sure needed! We try and meet our client’s needs but there was always a big hole where we didn’t know the answers. You blog and books are perfect. So many thanx.

  28. Josh Schofield says:

    I have gained some good insights bit from this article, and my company sells plastic storage bins! Storage and preservation of items/articles need to be organized this way you’ve written about. It makes all the difference in the world when you want to find things later.

  29. Mia Patriot says:

    I hate mold as well. There was this one time I found mold in an entire apartment this lady took me at to rent. I walked out of that apartment so fast.

  30. Man, I wish I had the patience to organize everything as well as you did. Who knows what kind of stuff I have in storage. I’m sure I have multiples of everything now.Thanks for the discussion on setting priorities for saving and archiving important family history items. That’s a good first step.

  31. I see you are very organized in photographing each item, assigning it a number, and then logging it into the computer. Those plastic boxes on the photo are something that I’ve been buying lately.

    A must have in humid parts of the country to get rid of mold and is also helpful for people with allergies is a Dehumidifier. I have 2 at home, one of which is a 22 year old GE Dehumidifier that is quite noisy but is still working like a charm.
    .-= Dehumidifier Reviews´s last blog ..Frigidaire FAD704TDP 70-pint Dehumidifier Review – The Best Portable Dehumidifier =-.

  32. Andrew Breth says:

    Proper storage of the things to be preserved requires more care than “just storing” things. Great info.

  33. Bryson Miller says:

    I recently not too long ago authored a blog post about how exactly a dehumidifier can be a sensible way to guard family members heirlooms and valuables like photography collections whenever they’re held with storage, in particular in a downstairs room or maybe examine living space. Those things are irreplaceable and will end up being kept properly.

  34. Andrew Breth says:

    Cool resource. Mold, a common term for fungus, attacks organic materials such as paper, books, cloth, photographs, and leather.

    Mold grows from spores, which are everywhere in our environment. Usually these spores are inactive, but they will germinate when the relative humidity exceeds 70 percent. Temperatures above 65 degrees increase the likelihood of mold growth.

    Cheers !

  35. Molds grow on organic materials such as paper, leather, dirt and soap scum. They grow best at warm, moist temperatures, between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius.

  36. Mason Downers says:

    I like the idea of labeling the inside and outside of the boxes that’s a brilliant idea. I’ve had to move three times in the last couple of years and I have had a hard time figuring out what was in what box so that is a great idea. I also like how you protect your pictures and stuff from mold that’s another useful piece of knowledge to have.

  37. UdyRegan says:

    If there’s one thing that isn’t worth keeping in storage anymore, it’s items that are damaged and aren’t reparable anymore. Please if you have items that have started growing mould or start spotting mildew spots, throw them away instead of keeping them in storage and exposing your other items that are ok to the spores!

  38. Edward Thirlwall says:

    I think that it’s really depressing when you finally remember you had this or that in storage and when you take it out, it’s covered in icky mould or worse that it’s started yellowing, fading, disintegrating, etc.

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