This is part two of a two part series that my friend Russel Ray, a prominent San Diego CA Home Inspector and Active Rain Blogger recently posted on the storage of caustic chemicals. It has been my experience that many homeowners store their chemicals under the sink, be it the kitchen, the bathroom, or the laundry. Read Russel's post to find out why this is not a good idea and where you should be storing them...
Is it bad to store chemicals in sink cabinets?
The unequivocal answer is a resounding YES, which we discovered in part one.
If you're a responsible home owner — and who amongst us will admit to anything else? — you take care of your house, which means you do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, seasonal, and annual maintenance. That should prevent you from having any water problems — roof leaks, plumbing leaks — unless you have a flood, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, etc.
Part of what I call "regular homeowner monitoring and maintenance" is regularly checking water supply lines and sewer pipes, and the ones in your sink cabinets are the ones that will prove most problematic because of where they are located, what else you keep in the sink cabinet, and how careful you are in putting things in and taking things out.
Here's how to monitor that sink cabinet plumbing on a daily basis with little effort on your part:
Store dry materials (towels, bathroom tissue, boxes, etc.) in sink cabinets, like this:
Notice that the chemicals that have been stored there have not yet been opened, and that's okay because the factory seal has not been broken, so those little, corrosive atoms won't be able to attach themselves to your plumbing pipes, the underside of your sink, or the disposal. Corrosive atoms really like metal best!
If those normally dry materials are wet when you remove them, you know you've got a leak of some type somewhere, so check for leaks in the water pipes and sewer pipes, and check for deteriorated caulking/grouting around the sink and countertop. Have a licensed plumber repair or replace any plumbing components, and have the deteriorated caulking/grouting repaired.
So where should you store common household cleaning chemicals that have been opened? A cabinet out of the reach of young children in the garage or at an exterior location is great, but if you must keep them inside, an upper hallway closet, the cabinet above the microwave oven, or the cabinet above the refrigerator make good interior locations. If it means that you have to go buy a step ladder to get the chemicals each time you need them, I think that small inconvenience is far better than the "inconvenience" of going to a funeral for a dead child or visiting an injured child in the hospital for several days. I hope you agree.
Regardless of where you store the chemicals, make sure the covers of the bottles are tightly closed and secured so that the chemicals don't spill if you accidentally knock the bottle over or drop it.
If you do have to keep chemicals in lower cabinets or drawers — and you shouldn't — again, make sure those cabinets and drawers have child-proof latches on them if you have young children in or visiting the house, and that includes the neighbors' children, your grandchildren, etc.
- Store chemicals in upper cabinets, in locked cabinets, and/or in exterior cabinets.
- Store dry materials such as towels, boxes, and tissue in sink cabinets to facilitate daily monitoring of the water supply lines and sewer pipes.
- Childproof all lower cabinets and drawers.
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Chris Smith CSSBB
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