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My collection is primarily on display in two showroom in my finished area of the basement. I have noticed that there are some small mold spots on some surfaces. What is the recommended humidity level for an area like this? I bought a dehumidifier and if the container was full overnight.
Any advice would be appreciated.

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I stumbled across this interesting paper on ideal storage conditions for various media including wax cylinders and 78s when trying to figure out optimal conditions for my wax cylinders.  I saved the link which unfortunately no longer works for me but you can try it.

http://www.keene.edu/library/OrangAsli/sound.pdf

In summary, even wax cylinders are more tolerant than I expected although ideal conditions are temperature between ~52 and 68F and humidity of 45percent. If humidity goes above 65 percent you may start having trouble.

 

For wood items it's close to the same.  temperatures between 55 - 85 °F are ideal for storing wood items. Humidity levels should be between 30 - 50% to prevent the growth of mold and wood rot.

 

Even if you have ideal humidity you need to make sure there's adequate air flow, no machines right against an outer wall or in a corner.   Condensation or wicking of water through cement can be a problem on a floor, (even carpeted) too so I would be careful about laying metal horns and such directly on the floor.

 

I'm surprised that you are having trouble with humidity.  I've seen your wonderful display and never noticed any damp or mold smell or anything like that.  It all looked well and safely displayed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the information.  I don't know what has changed.  My collection  has been in the same area for over 25 years. 

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I stumbled across this interesting paper on ideal storage conditions for various media including wax cylinders and 78s when trying to figure out optimal conditions for my wax cylinders.  I saved the link which unfortunately no longer works for me but you can try it.

http://www.keene.edu/library/OrangAsli/sound.pdf

In summary, even wax cylinders are more tolerant than I expected although ideal conditions are temperature between ~52 and 68F and humidity of 45percent. If humidity goes above 65 percent you may start having trouble.

 

For wood items it's close to the same.  temperatures between 55 - 85 °F are ideal for storing wood items. Humidity levels should be between 30 - 50% to prevent the growth of mold and wood rot.

 

Even if you have ideal humidity you need to make sure there's adequate air flow, no machines right against an outer wall or in a corner.   Condensation or wicking of water through cement can be a problem on a floor, (even carpeted) too so I would be careful about laying metal horns and such directly on the floor.

 

I'm surprised that you are having trouble with humidity.  I've seen your wonderful display and never noticed any damp or mold smell or anything like that.  It all looked well and safely displayed.

 

 

 

 

The better dehumidifiers are so good now.  Ours here is set to 45% and I can control it with my phone via wifi.  A little air movement is key.  That should be all you need.  Maybe you need to add a fan but that should do it.

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Bruce,

Thanks for the post.  I need to use a hose on the dehumidifier.  It gets full overnight.  I just don't know what changed.  I have had the collection in the same location for over 25 years without this issue.  I will add a fan also to keep the air moving. 

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Ken, you might want to check the rain gutters & downspouts on your house.  Be sure no water is entering through a new access point.

 

Presumably, you'd know if you had a water pipe/drain leak, but how about air conditioning?  The condensation produced by a central air unit, or even a window unit, can be significant.  Be sure a window unit is not dripping down the foundation of your house, and if you have central air, be sure your drain line is clear.

 

George P.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I wish I didn't know as much about this as I do.  Living here in Los Angeles (without AC), I thought brown wax cylinder storage would never be a challenge given our typically low humidity.  But to be sure, about 7 years ago, I bought a bunch of  hygrometers and scattered them on all floors to monitor what was going on.  (Hygrometers are cheap and essential to understand humidity in your house.  Do not trust the ones on dehumidifiers.)

 

At first, I was pleased to see that indoor RH was rarely above 53% which is really the top limit for wax cylinders.  I don't know who thinks 65% is okay, but it's not.  Also, the temperature range the paper cites is too narrow.  Wax cylinders can get much colder and much warmer (up to about 80) without harm (remember the non-AC world they have lived in).  Sustained high temperature leads to heat scorching and excessive cold can lead to cracking.

 

Re finished wood, since your collection is in a basement, my guess is it's seeing humidity over 60% a lot of the time, which explains the mold.  

 

After I got hygrometers here, I noticed RH starting to creep up.  This is climate change in action and might be what you are experiencing too.  Now, in our wet months (winter), RH in my house is often over 60%. 

 

I've made a lot of changes, including dedicated rooms for brown wax with dehumidifiers fitted with condensate pumps.  Now, my records are always between 45 - 47% RH and I sleep better because of it. 

 

The right dehumidifier is a topic in itself.  Manual emptying (as you have already learned) is ultimately self-defeating.  The dehumidifiers with built in condensate pumps were all junk for a while (with about a 10% DOA rate!).  But I just got a new Frigidaire that seems decent.  (In my experience, Honeywell has the best service but their units are average; Frigidaires are better but their service will drive you crazy.)

 

Hope this helps. 

 

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