Cleaning out your shed is an important and common springtime activity. A clean and organized shed makes all of your garden and summertime yard tasks easier. There are also some hidden dangers and hazards that could lurk in your old shed. It is important to be mindful of these hazards. Be sure you deal with them before they can harm you or whatever is stored in your shed.
Toxic Cleaning and Pest Control Products
If you have an older shed or you haven’t given it a thorough cleaning in a number of years, you should be careful about the toxic chemicals and compounds that could be lurking back there. Many older cleaning products or pesticides have been labeled as very harmful to humans and the environment within the last few years. Some have been completely banned and made illegal to buy or use. Certain chemical products may also degrade as they age, becoming either more toxic than they were already or becoming ineffective.
It is important to do a thorough sort of any chemicals, pesticides or cleaning products you may find in the shed. If they are more than a few years old, it is a good idea to dispose of them. It is vital that you dispose of them properly. Don’t simply dump them out in the street or flush them down the drain. This is very harmful to the environment and water supply. It is also likely to be illegal and come with stiff fines if you are reported. Instead, contact your local waste disposal service. They can give you details about how to dispose of the chemicals and proper disposal sites or options.
For your own safely be sure you are wearing a mask such as a surgical mask and wearing heavy duty rubber gloves when cleaning out chemicals in storage. The fumes from these chemicals can burn your eyes, skin and throat if you are not careful.
Ants and Termites
Ants and termites love old sheds for a number of reasons. They provide a safe and dry place to make a nest or gather food. Many types of ants, and of course termites, also eat the wood and use it as building material for their nests.
These insects can case all sorts of problems in your shed. If they are eating the wood or burrowing through it to make their nests, they could compromise the integrity of the whole structure. Sever damage by termites or red ants could even cause the shed to become unstable or collapse. They also damage wooding shelving and degrade roof material leading to leaks or breakage. Anything you store in the shed also becomes a target for infestation. The ants may use it for food or to expand their colony.
Ant problems do not go away on their own. There are many things you can do to combat ants. The most immediately effective is to spray a long-lasting insecticide in the area. This may not always kill the colony, however. A complete solution is to use ant baits or similar insecticide baits guaranteed to kill the whole colony, or to contact a specialist at a company like Allrid.
Old sheds, especially if they are not fully water proof or you live in a damp climate, are prone to mold. Mold can be a serious health hazards because it releases toxic spores into the air. These spores can cause allergic reactions or exacerbate breathing conditions like asthma. Long-term exposure to mold may also harm the immune system or cause other chronic health problems.
You can use soap, water and baking soda to kill mold. Be sure you wear a face mask and gloves when cleaning the mold and monitor your shed to see if the mold returns. Large amounts of mold usually indicate a leak or moisture problem in the shed that you should also fix.
Most people expect to see bats, rats or mice hiding out in an old shed, but they are also a great place for spiders. What makes spiders a tricky pest is that most spiders inhabit one of two extremes when it comes to the danger they pose. Either they are almost entirely harmless or they are very deadly.
The good news is that the vast majority of spiders in the United States are harmless and actually very beneficial. If they do bite, which many actually won’t, then their venom is not toxic to humans. That said, there are a few species with bites that can be very dangerous or deadly. It is a good idea to be able to identify these species. The most likely candidates you will find in an old shed include the black widow, brown recluse and wolf spider. If you are bitten or think you have been bitten by any of these species, you should see a doctor. While death from spider bites is exceedingly rare in healthy adults, they can cause serious illness or complications.
Cleaning out your old shed can be a wonderful and refreshing experience. Just be sure you are aware of the dangers that could be lurking in those dark and dusty crannies. If you take appropriate precautions and have the right tools ready to deal with any problems, your shed cleanout can be done with no risk to you.