Storing in the Wrong Place: Consequences of a Packrat

CJ Moore | Jun 21, 2010 @ 10:21 AM

Visited my family’s lake house this weekend, and when my friends and I arrived, we were greeted by the same mildewy scent that has invaded the house the last five or so years.

After airing out the house and unloading half a bottle of Febreze, the smell usually dissipates – or we just get used to it. Getting rid of the culprit of the smell is going to be a lot more difficult. My dad figured out awhile back that the basement was the root of the problem and he’s since learned that in order to get rid of the smell, we need to go through a complicated cleaning process that begins with throwing everything away.

My grandpa will be unto pleased when he finds out about this. Grandpa lived through the Depression, and like many from that era, he saves everything and wastes nothing. Grandpa will freeze homemade ice cream at the lake, come back the next summer, get it out of the freezer and chow down. If you’re looking for a throwback hippie-era outfit, you can go to his house and find plenty to choose from in closets that haven’t been opened for years.

Grandpa has sheds, basements, closets and every corner of his house loaded with stuff – most would call this “stuff” junk. It’s a habit that I understand and even sentimentally appreciate. I kind of like looking through some of the old stuff Grandpa has saved, but, and this is one unpleasantly-scented but… Grandpa’s insistence on keeping everything and throwing nothing away has led to our smelly house. The moisture in the basement has ruined some of the stored items and produced a stench that has seeped into the carpet on the floor above. Not only do we have to throw everything away, we also have to get new carpet.

I don’t blame Grandpa’s packrat ways for this problem. What’s to blame is the location of the stored items. Years ago we should have evaluated what was being stored and the chance that it would be ruined by the location – and also end up ruining the location. Some might believe that storage units for the purposes of storing sentimental junk are a waste of money, but for those like my Grandpa who see the value in saving stuff, a storage unit can pay off in the long run.

Most storage units are climate-controlled and will help preserve family treasures. Unfortunately, our lake basement was not, and now we’ll have to part ways with some of Grandpa’s prized possessions.