Julie Maxey-Allison | 10th Street
Our coastal clime is good for people. Sea shanties sing of the Sirens’ call, the ocean’s charms. Sailers and surfers glide on it, swimmers swim in it, beach combers amble along it. As long as we are self-screened from too much sun, just living next to the ocean brings us clean air, clean lungs, the antibacterial work of salt water, our extra dose of Vitamin D, the ease of exercise, swimming and walking, the meditating music of the waves, the beauty of it all.
However, lovely as it is, this same combination of sun and salt air, also destroys. Our neighbor, The Salk Institute, 1960, designed by Louis Kahn, perched atop the Pacific Ocean, is in the process of renovating portions of the original building’s concrete.The cause is salt, one letter away from the institute’s name. Salt air has eaten away the structural rebar core, destabilizing the concrete.
That one dramatic example exposes the dark power of salt air. Know that many of our belongings are also at risk, including our houses. The risk is rust and corrosion. And, by adding fog-laden moisture, mold—slimy black spots, fuzzy white patches, slick orange film—and wood rot.
Plastic seems immune. Your art, antiques, books, leather goods, fabrics are not. Depending on the materials used during construction, neither is your house. The list goes on. Add outdoor furniture, gardening equipment, tools, seasonal decorations and vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, and some boats.
Its time to take notice, with winter’s possible periods of wet weather and fog droplets on the way, and catch problems to protect what you have before they grow into real troubles.
Since even the strongest metals can gradually deteriorate, when building or replacing home components look to materials that resist the devastating effects of ocean air: stainless steel, stucco, vinyl, fiberglass, treated lumber, galvanized locks, door handles, fasteners, and the like.
To mitigate risk indoors, circulate air with fans, control humidity levels with dehumidifiers, and choose anti-fungal cleaners to fend off mildew and mold. Wax or coat metal-front appliances to repel water and rust damage.
Outdoors, protect patio furniture and other items with stains and waxes and covers. Rinse them often to clear off any mineral buildup. Note: dry off any wet item before covering or storing. Coat bikes, vehicles, and boats with salt neutralizers. Remember, too, to sheild your fuse box and other outdoor metal exteriors with WD-40 or silicone spray to slow corrosion and pitting.