Basements are often treated like one giant junk drawer (hey, no judgment here). But many have also evolved to offer a below-ground hideaway for entertainment or playrooms, home offices and more.
Regardless of what you use your lower level for, remember, there are still some things you should avoid storing down there. But when it’s unavoidable, a little preparation and forethought (like having the right homeowners coverage) can go a long way in protecting your belongings and your home.
Check out our short list of what to avoid.
Things that are irreplaceable (or just plain hard to replace)
- Printed photos: Memories can last a lifetime, but printed photos are easily ruined. Keeping them out of the basement is just one precaution to help you protect and preserve your family photos for posterity.
- Important documents: Wherever you store them, make sure you have a secure place to safely keep papers (think fire, flood and burglary-proof) like your birth certificate, passport, financial documents or will. Yes, these can be replaced, but ask anyone that’s had to and they’ll likely tell you it’s worth protecting them like they were printed in gold.
- Antiques or family heirlooms: If your family has passed items down through the generations you understand how irreplaceable they are. And depending on the item, the years can add to its sentimental and monetary value.
Highly flammable or hazardous items
- Firewood: Firewood can equal a whole lot of extra fuel if you ever have a housefire. Or it can get damp in the basement, which is less than ideal—and ultra-smokey—when burning it. Plus, it’s basically a big wooden invitation for insects and rodents.
- Paint, chemicals or household liquids: If you have one, basements are usually where your furnace, water heater and dryer are. Pair those with flammable liquids in a space that’s not typically well ventilated, and you could have a recipe for disaster.
VIDEO: Watch how quickly a dryer fire can spread
- Books and magazines: If they have any sentimental or monetary value—or you just don’t want to ruin them—storing books and magazines in the basement is usually a no-no. And just like firewood, they can inadvertently end up as kindling.
- Electronics: Ideas for tricking out that extra basement space are boundless and often include electronics. For finished basements it’s less of an issue, as you’ve likely taken precautions like installing a sump pump, backwater valve or moisture-suitable flooring. But issues with climate and moisture control in most unfinished basements can be tough on electronics.
- Furniture or artwork: Artwork and furniture can come with quite the price tag, especially if you’re a collector. It might be tempting but basement storage isn’t worth the risk.
- Clothes, shoes and jewelry: If you’re no stranger to treating yourself (or your better half) to the finer things, just make sure the quality of your storage space matches the merchandise.
Remember, “basement” literally implies an area below ground level, so don’t underestimate the damage it can inflict on your things or your whole home. (Hint: there’s a reason why horror movies always have a basement scene).
Protect the Things That Matter
If you have a basement, it only makes sense you use it. But before you use it as your storage catch-all, talk to your local ERIE agent first.