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Understanding & Preventing Moisture In A Safe

Have you ever opened your safe and wondered why it smells like mold inside the safe? Moisture can get trapped inside the safe when the door to the safe is not opened frequently. Because the safe is designed to keep fire out, it also keeps all fresh air out, causing the moisture inside the safe to build up. This moisture can cause mold and mildew to occur inside the safe. Some safes and environments are more prone to having moisture inside of the safe.

We recommend that you place delicate items such as pictures or intricate jewelry into an air-tight container before storing them in your safe.  Avoid placing your safe in areas of high humidity.  For optimum performance, the safe should be opened and aired out for at least 20 minutes every two weeks.

If you live in a humid area or have extremes in temperature where the safe is kept, use of desiccant packs/ bags or a dehumidifier (such as Eva Dry or Goldenrod) is recommended inside the safe. 

Mildew can grow anywhere if you do not take precautions to prevent it. Mildew will show up even inside something as secure as a safe. All this blotchy pest needs to flourish are a few basic conditions of temperature and humidity.

Moisture Reduction

Check the seal around the opening of your safe. If you notice any imperfections, such as small tears, cracks, or wrinkles, these may be the means by which the moisture is finding its way inside. Replacing this strip may solve this problem. If your safe does not have an air tight seal, moisture can easily find its way inside. Check the weather stripping around any windows in the room where you keep your safe. Bad weather stripping is another way moisture may make its way into a room.

Follow Your Nose

You can usually smell mildew growing before it becomes visible. If you notice a musty, stale smell that is indicative of mildew, it may be time to open the safe and clean the inside. If you clean inside the safe, make sure that it is left to dry for several hours before replacing any items. Any leftover moisture from the cleaning may trigger more mildew.

Check On Your Stuff

It takes time for the dark spots to show up and periodically checking on anything you have stored will provide evidence of mildew before it can ruin anything. Don't neglect your important possessions. Just because they are in a safe, they need to be dusted and cleaned. Always dry thoroughly after any cleaning.

Seasonal Installation Recommendation

Shipping insulated fire safes during the extreme temperature seasons can cause moisture condensation as the insulation materials are slower than the steel exterior surfaces to equalize to room temperature. Before loading the safe with belongings, it is recommended that the door be opened so the interior can be exposed to room temperatures for approximately 24 hours.

How to Remove Musty Smells from a Safe

If moisture is entering your safe, it first needs to be checked by a professional for any damage. Once you are sure there are no leaks or areas of weakness, you can tackle the moisture and odors inside. There are products designed to absorb moisture in sealed spaces, such as a safe. There are also a variety of things that can be used to absorb and remove the odors.

Removing the Moisture:

If the source of the moisture is not cannot be found, you try to absorb it. There are several options available. The easiest is a can of silica gel (This is the same product that is found in the small packets used to keep moisture out of boxes and purses/bags.) There are a variety of merchants who sell desiccant or silica gel. Ensure that you have a large enough canister for the space you are trying to protect. Desiccant can be purchased online or from many craft stores.

Many of them come with indicators that change color as the product absorbs moisture. Once the color has changed, simply place it in a low-heat oven for a couple of hours to dry it out again. It can be reused again and again. Another option is DampRid. There are a variety of products in this line as well. Find the one best suited for your situation. DampRid can be purchased online or at hardware and home improvement stores.

Removing the Musty Smell:

First, remove the moisture with one of the steps in the previous section, then you can effectively remove the odor without it returning.

Fill a small bowl with fresh coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are excellent at removing odors.

Place it in the safe and close the door.

Keep it there until the odors are removed, longer if desired.

Replace the coffee grounds as necessary.

Other odor removers include vinegar, baking soda and oranges. Again, place them in a small dish (baking soda can be left in the box, opened) and set it in the safe. Remove and replace as needed.

Additional Tips and Advice

If papers are damp or show any signs of mildew, place them in direct sunlight for several hours until they are dry again. Do not leave them in the sun once they are dry or the print may fade.

Air purifiers that put out ozone are also helpful in removing odors. Treating the papers with ozone is an effective way to remove odors as well.

If the moisture is not removed from the safe, the smell will persist, no matter how many odor absorbers are present. It is important to treat the source of the problem first.

Musty safes are not uncommon and moisture is not a definite sign of a problem with the safe. However, if excessive moisture is accumulating, it should be checked out by a professional.

A common mistake is using too little of a moisture absorbing product which does not allow it to effectively remove the moisture. Ensure the size of the product is adequate for the size of your safe.


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