Thursday, June 1, 2017

Help! Card storage in a hot attic

Welcome to June.

While it's presently fairly chilly in the northeast for this time of year, something happened in mid-May that concerned me about the well-being of my cards.

The temperature went up.

We had a mini heat wave, with temps in high 80s and touching 90, which was unusual for that time of year. I went up to the attic in my house to look for something, and the heat was already fairly sweltering up there. You know that stifling, heavy heat in your grandma's attic? That's what this felt like.

Big deal, right? It's an attic. It's supposed to be hot in the summer and cold in the winter, especially when you live in a 103-year-old center hall colonial.

Here is the problem: my cards are in the attic.

I have a few shelves up there where I store my cards, literally because I have no other space to call my own. The portion of the attic that holds my cards is finished. It's technically a bedroom. It's got painted walls and an ugly orange carpet that is at least 30 years old. There's a bathroom and coat closet, and across the mini hall is the unfinished, more traditional storage portion of the attic. Someday we'll redo it all and make it nice, but that's way down on the priority list.

It serves its purpose now as a guest room (although no one has slept in it), storage, and more specifically, card storage.

So my question is: what the heck do I do? Is it ok for my cards to be in the upcoming sweltering heat? Are there any measure I can take to preserve them a little better? Central air is not an option, by the way.

Maybe it won't make a difference and my cards will be fine. Does anyone know? Has anyone had to deal with similar conditions?

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13 comments:

  1. I keep mine in plastic totes in the attic. Haven't had any issues. But, I also have an attic fan that kicks in around 80 degrees. Keeps it tolerable. A think it shouldn't be much of an issue with older (cardboard, non-uv) cards. The new stuff, not so sure.

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  2. This is why I send cards to you, Drew and others.

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  3. I keep most of my cards in individual sleeves. In the past I let some 90s glossy cards stay in a box for a long time and they came out stuck together. But, here we routinely hit 90%+ humidity for most of the summer. I'd agree the older cardboard cards should be ok.

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  4. That SUPER huge deal I got last May (2016) Had been stored in an attic in central FL. old and new alike. The only damages I seen from the heat was only in a few of the binders, and that was mainly the pages. Very few cards were affected by the FL humidity and heat outside of binders (in a box). And those were mainly glossy cards sticking to to each other.

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  5. Move kids to attic....kids room becomes card room. Boom!

    In all seriousness if the high end cards are sleeved I think you will be ok.

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  6. I hate to disagree with some of the previous comments, but as one who has seen what heat and humidity is capable of doing to cards (and other cardboard/paper items), I really think you have a problem that needs to be acted on. Depending on your financial situation, you might want to look in to getting an attic fan put in on the unfinished side, the ones that come on when it reaches a preset temperature, work really well. And you said the were in a bedroom, if it's a bedroom with a door, I would at the very least get a dehumidifier. I have three, from a company called ivation (you can find them on Amazon), that work like a wonder. And as an added benefit, these particular models expel cooler air as part of the dehumidifying process.

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    1. Yeah. I guess I just don't like my cards enough to make improvements to the house just to suit them. The dehumidifier is a good idea. We have one in the basement, but attic is a good call too.

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  7. Heat's a problem, no doubt about it. Unprotected binders will get the worst of it--discoloration, sticking to the pages where removing the cards will leave some paper behind from time to time, and that foil they like to use on cards...say goodbye to that (especially on the food issues). The color on the early chrome cards all kinda melts away (but, honestly, those early chrome cards do that in climate controlled conditions too). Vintage cards generally hold up just fine. The newer card stocks (Fleer, Donruss, Score, Upper Deck, and post-90 Topps) suck and there are lots of climate conditions that will badly discolor these, but heat will do it more quickly.

    I just have too many cards to care much about this, frankly. I know the vintage will hold up OK and I consider pretty much everything else to be junk wax (if it was made after '85, it's junk wax to me...even if it isn't). So I have craploads of early Upper Deck (for example) up in the attic that's going to hell--been up there for 15 years or more--and I really don't care. I probably should, but I don't. One of these days soon, I'll probably dump them on ebay and get crap money if anything and I still don't care.

    Like anything else, it sort of sorts itself out. Your investment cards, your valuable vintage, the sets you love, the players or teams you love...you're keeping those things close. Those things are never going to end up in a sweltering attic. Boxes of modern dupes or my Seattle Mariners cards? Eh. If she dies, she dies, ya know? (I really don't like the Mariners. Never have.) So the long and short of it is this: is the attic heat bad for your cards? Absolutely. The question is how much do you care and what are you going to do about it.

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    1. Well that's scary! The vast majority of stuff is run of the mill commons, and while of my team, aren't anything I'm fretting too much over. Thanks for your thoughts.

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  8. Is there a window? Another alternative (assuming there is a window) is a window unit AC. You don't have to keep it cold (set it to maintain a room temp of 80-85) and newer tech is making these things cheaper and cheaper. Just a thought. Good luck!

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    1. Indeed, there is a window. Just don't really want to run it all the time for the sake of baseball cards. It would be nice to have up there for when I want to spend some time up there organizing and whatnot.

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  9. thanks for the plug! i had a box in my attic back in Dallas with a few sets. We are talking about summer outdoor temps of 100+ sometimes, 2 weeks straight. One was 93 SP WITH the Jeter rc. They were fine. He is now indoors, in the safe. I had no issues. Perhaps I was lucky. Hope your collection fares well!!

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  10. A huge part of my collection sits in my parent's garage in Las Vegas (high heat/low humidity). I was originally worried about my top loaders warping, since that's happened to me here in California... but for some reason I haven't seen any issues. Although... I have a strong suspicion that any sets with high gloss have probably fused themselves together by now.

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