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Some of us here in Olathe have finished basements that look—and are used and treated—like any other room in the house. That means they’re carpeted or have hardwood or laminate flooring, and we keep them clean, maintained, and orderly just like the family room, rec room, or additional bedroom that they are.

Often, these finished basements have a little room tucked away in a corner somewhere that’s called a “mechanical room.” That’s where the heating systems live. And most of what we’re going to say here certainly applies to those small furnace rooms, too. But while some of us have finished basements, a lot of houses in Olathe have a basement that is unfinished and is often used as storage for anything and everything that doesn’t fit in the rest of the house.

These unfinished basements are also usually home to the furnace and heating system for the rest of the house. Here’s the thing, though: While these unfinished basements are great for overflow storage, you shouldn’t actually store just anything so close to your furnace, and there are some things that may be damaged if you store them in the basement.

Here are the things that you shouldn’t store in your unfinished Olathe basement—and why:

Chemicals and Anything Flammable – Chemicals should always be stored with care, no matter what kinds of chemicals they are, from household cleaners to pool chemicals to extra cans of house paint. Anything chemical has special conditions under which it should be stored. These are usually listed on the side of the container. Whatever it says, though, if your basement is also home to your furnace, then it’s not the right place for anything flammable. In fact, don’t keep anything flammable near any of your appliances, including water heaters. The slightest electrical spark can cause a fire that you may not notice until it’s too late. Plus, storing volatile chemicals in an enclosed indoor space like the basement probably isn’t a great idea, anyway.

Firewood – Speaking of flammable, we’ve never seen this one ourselves, but evidently some folks keep the extra wood for their fireplaces in the basement. That’s a bad idea. Not only is firewood obviously flammable, but it can also attract pests or bring them in from outside. What’s more, your basement is likely to be more humid than the rest of your house, which can dampen your firewood and make it less likely to burn when you need it to.

Antiques – Just like your firewood, antique wood furniture is a magnet for humidity and can be ruined by mildew. Also, it’s a fact of life that sometimes basements in Olathe flood. Even if yours never has, you never know when an unprecedented rainstorm is going to hit. Even if there’s not any rain, a burst pipe can always flood any basement. If you have valuable antiques, the basement isn’t the right place for them.

Food – Okay, some food is fine in the basement. You may remember your grandma putting up pickled vegetables in the cellar when you were a kid, and canned goods can still find a great home in your basement. Perishable foods, on the other hand, are a whole other story. Not only can non-canned food items attract insects and other pests, the changes in heat and humidity in your basement won’t do them any favors. Food kept in the basement may spoil faster than it otherwise would, and unless you have a wine cellar that was built just for the purpose, the basement isn’t the best place to keep your wine, either. Even pet food shouldn’t be kept down there, as mice and other pests can easily get into the bags.

Old Clothes and Bedding – Pests can eat your linens, and temperature fluctuations or water damage can all lead to mold and mildew that will ruin clothes or other textiles. Whether you’re storing out-of-season clothing, your wedding dress, extra shoes, or things that are waiting to go to the thrift store, you should keep them sealed in plastic bags or bins and out of the basement.

Important Papers and Documents – As easy as it is for moisture to ruin clothes and wood furniture, imagine how delicate paper would fare down there! Those medical records, tax documents, birth certificates, and family photos are highly susceptible to the perils of your damp basement. Some documents should be kept in a fireproof safe, while others should simply be stored somewhere other than the basement.

Cat Boxes – Believe it or not, cat litter boxes should be kept well away from appliances. Cat urine contains ammonia, and the fumes from even that small amount of ammonia can corrode the heat exchange in your furnace.

Creepy Antique Doll Collection – Have you never seen Dead Silence or any of the Annabelle movies? Having a collection of creepy antique dolls, marionettes, or puppets in your dimly-lit basement is just asking for trouble! For starters, if they’re made of wood or dressed in fabric (or coated in certain kinds of paint) they can be a fire hazard. What’s more, the same moisture and temperature fluctuations that endanger your antiques, linens, and documents will wreak havoc with even the creepiest doll. More than that, though, they’re just spooky, and any visitors to your basement—including HVAC service professionals, other workers, or even yourself if you need to check the breakers on stormy night—may get a serious case of the creeps when they’re down there to service the furnace or water heater.

Too Much of Anything Else – Your furnace, HVAC system, and hot water heater all require space to function efficiently and safely. Packing things too close to them not only puts you at risk, but it pretty much guarantees that your utility bills will be higher than they need to be, and the lifespan of your furnace may be shorter, too.

Because they’re out of the way, we may not think about our basements as often as we do the rest of the house. But the basement is an important room in the home, and it deserves to be kept clean just as much as the bedroom or den. What’s more, keeping your basement clean may just help keep your utility bills down.

Having trouble with your furnace or water heater at home? There’s no need to fret! Davenport Service Company has been providing “Customer First” HVAC service in Olathe for more than thirty years! If your furnace or water heater is giving you problems, we can put it right—even if your basement is full of creepy dolls. Just call Davenport Service Company at 913-441-2222 today!

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