Converting Your Garage Into A Food Storage Facility

Whether you buy in bulk to save money on your grocery bill or you're a survivalist planning for the eventual zombie apocalypse, long-term food storage is likely a top-of-mind issue. To maximize the shelf life of dry goods, it's best to store them in a cool space like a basement. However, if your home doesn't have a basement and you don't have enough space inside your house, you can convert your garage into a viable food storage facility. Here's what you need to know about making this happen.

Basic Food Storage Requirements

There are three things you must account for if you want to use your garage to store foodstuffs: temperature, rodents, and theft. Of the three, maintaining a constant temperature will be the most challenging since the majority of garages are built to store vehicles, utility controls, and other machinery that aren't as affected by fluctuations in temperature as food is.

The optimal temperature for storing food is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and the closer you can maintain the temperature at the lower end the better. The coolness helps retard water loss and decay as well as minimizes the production of the ripening agent ethylene in some fruits and vegetables, so your foods will stay good longer. Temperatures above 70 degrees will cause food to spoil faster while anything below 50 degrees may result in poor quality food due to freezing.

Another thing that can affect the life span and quality of foodstuffs stored in the garage is the humidity, particularly if you live humid areas such as Florida and Louisiana. The humidity in your garage should be 15 percent or less; anything higher may cause spoilage.

Rodents and insects will also be a concern, especially if you still plan on using the garage to store a vehicle (thus opening and closing the garage door frequently). While judicious use of airtight containers and shelving can help minimize any damage pests may do, vermin-proofing your garage will also help protect your investment.

Tricking Out Your Garage

The first thing you should do is insulate your garage. The insulation will provide some protection from fluctuations in exterior temperatures while also holding in air treated by your heating and cooling system. Don't forget to also install insulated garage doors to prevent exterior heat and coldness from getting in and treated interior air from bleeding out. When choosing a new garage door, avoid getting one with a lot of windows (or get one with frosted windows) as direct sunlight can also destroy your food stores. You'll also want to make sure it's rodent and insect proof to help keep the vermin out.

To regulate temperature and humidity, you'll need to install a way to heat and cool the air. If you have central air, you can hire a contractor to extend the system to your attached garage. Another option is to install a separate ductless HVAC system. No matter which option you choose, you need to be sure to install a thermostat so you can keep an eye on the temperature. You'll also need to build in adequate ventilation, particularly if you want to store fruits and vegetables in the space.

Racks and cupboards provide an excellent way to organize your food supplies and protect them from environmental elements. Open racks tend to be cheaper and allow for maximum air flow around your supplies. However, lockable cupboards provide a good defense against pests and potential thieves. Whichever you decide to get, food should be stored a minimum of four to six inches from the ground. Setting the racks on cement blocks or palates is a good way to achieve this without losing the use of lower rungs.

To help protect your stash from outsiders who may want to dip into your supply, talk to a contractor about the type of security features available for residential garage doors. Strong, sturdy doors made from steel or solid-core wood can resist brute efforts by most intruders. Doors with manual locks can also provide some protection.

For more information on choosing the right garage door to complete the conversion of your garage into a food storage facility, contact a garage door contractor in your area.