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  1. #1

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    deep freeze darkroom

    I'm thinking of letting my house freeze this winter, and am curious if this will damage anything. My understanding is that most older electronic equipment can stand freezing, as long as you warm them up slowly and don't operate them when cold. I doubt if anything in my darkroom is less than 25-35 years old. A dry mount press. A super chromega head. An old Beseler timer. I'll probably leave a camera or two behind and some lenses. It will likely get down to 20-30F below zero at times. But I'm thinking they will all probably be fine if the house is warmed up gradually. What do you think?

  2. #2
    hdeyong's Avatar
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    The only problem I see is temperature cycling, getting warmer and colder. On sunny days, (and those warm spells you get from time to time), the place is going to warm up somewhat, then drop again at night. If the place is really sealed up and there's moisture in the air, it may condense on everything a number of times. And that can't be good.
    Last edited by hdeyong; 12-02-2013 at 10:23 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: addition

  3. #3

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    Biggest issue with a large temperature change is the changing size of every material as it cools and warms. Most materials will not have matching coefficients of expansion. If it is delicate and precise (lenses) take them elsewhere. Depending on climate the day night heat and cool cycle will cause a house with no heat to collect moisture as the coldnight air is pulled in as the house cools and there is insufficient heat to drive the moisture out the next day. That probably is a phenomena of temperate climates. In the Midwest US we call it 'Barn Behavior' where the internal humidity skyrockets at night. A sign that the outer envelope of a building is not very air tight when the inside matches the outside humidity around the clock.

  4. #4
    Truzi's Avatar
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    Umm... I take it you will have the house "winterized" so the pipes don't have water freeze in them?
    Truzi

  5. #5
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Do you have any thermometers in your darkroom that would be damaged by the cold?

    What about chemicals?
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  6. #6

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    My lower level has good solar exposure and may cycle a bit but my darkroom is upstairs on the north side of the house (which will be covered in snow) with only one small window so I don't think it will cycle much. There may be a few weeks toward spring where there is some moister air, but I'll be back in spring. The winter air will be pretty dry if we have a real winter.

  7. #7
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    If there's film or paper in there, you run the risk of condensation forming on it, which will ruin it. If you let your chemistry freeze, you can ruin it depending on what it is - some will precipitate out, some will (reportedly) be destroyed despite no change in appearance. And freezing chemistry (water-based) will expand, which might crack bottles.

    Equipment I wouldn't worry about, though bagging delicate stuff (lenses?) to reduce the chance of internal condensation might be useful.

  8. #8
    AgX
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    Why would the condensation just take place on the film and paper? And not on the coldest part of that house?

  9. #9
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    Condensation will take place on anything that is colder than the dew-point of the air surrounding it. Presuming the house is closed up while warm, the air will become supersaturated as it cools and you will get condensation basically everywhere. This is particularly true if rooms are closed because moist air will be trapped in them. Even if the doors are open, there will be moist air trapped in (opened) film and paper boxes, which will then condense.

    It only takes one little droplet to ruin an image!

    Film sealed in its original foil packets should be OK though, same as it is in a freezer.

  10. #10

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    Film and paper stored in ziploc bags will condense on the outside of the bag, especially if they're sealed in with a little rice in a pouch to suck up humidity inside.

    Chemicals aren't going to carry through a freezing reliably, as has been said.

    A thought is that you might want to plastic wrap electronics and large components so condensation or frost doesn't get to them as readily (especially lenses), again with a cloth bag of rice inside to suck up humidity.

    Just random ideas.

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