We’ve been experiencing another wet spring and early summer here in Pennsylvania. Warm temperatures in the 80s have only lasted for a few days at a time, and rain and overcast skies have dominated most weeks. Many of my elders have yet to turn on their air conditioning units, and my bedroom window is void of its usual fan. For the first time this year, I plugged in my dehumidifier this weekend.
High humidity is not uncommon in western Pennsylvania even during a normal year. I remember many summers at camp where I would need to take three or four towels to get through a single week. Between showers and pool time, it only took a day or two for towels to get musty out in the woods. Mildew was a common problem, and spare clothing that had not been worn during the week would still need to be washed when I returned home. Humidity permeated everything in the woods.
The high humidity makes woodworking or home improvement projects difficult. It can take several days for paint or wood stain to dry when the weather is not cooperating. Larger projects that can’t fit in a small space with the dehumidifier often require relinquishing large work areas for several days while they set up. Art projects often remain tacky and require longer waiting periods between work sessions.
After projects are done, I find myself needing to provide extra care for some items. Photo prints need air to avoid trapping moisture and developing wrinkles, even if they’re stored with silicon packets. The dehumidifier helps, but binders and boxes still require regular rotations and checks to ensure all is well. Natural insect and pest repellants, such as cedar chips, cinnamon powder, or mint oil in cloth sachets, help to drive away unwanted critters drawn to damp, dark corners in cupboards or under heavy furniture. Extra dusting can help remove particles that can draw moisture.
Excessive rain may make it difficult to enjoy outdoor activities during the summer, but don’t forget to check on your stock and projects while stuck indoors. Even if high humidity is not a regular occurrence in your part of the world, giving your art, books, and other paper-based belongings a breath of air after a heavy rain can help ensure their quality lasts. And remember to watch out for buggy pests driven inside by adverse weather. Even if they have no interest in papers or art supplies, they can still be an unpleasant surprise if you find them nesting in the dark corners of your storage areas.