A bowling ball can make or break your game – literally. That’s why apart from cleaning it well, you need to store it properly. And unless you have a ball rack right at home, your first tendency may be to keep your balls in the garage.
You can definitely store your bowling balls in your garage, but fluctuating temperatures and humidity can damage the integrity of your balls. And with bad balls, of course, comes a bad bowl.
Thankfully, there’s something you can do about it. Here, you’ll learn more about the garage factors that affect your balls – and what you can do to avoid them.
Why the Garage Is Not Always the Best Place to Store Bowling Balls
Although the garage provides the space you need for your bowling balls, it does expose them to several enemies. One is fluctuating temperatures, as some garages are extremely cold during the winter (even spring in northern areas). Come summer, they can get scorching hot.
Another factor is humidity, wherein too much or too little is not a good thing.
How Cold Temperatures Affect Bowling Balls
Cold temperatures, which are below 8°C or 46 °F, can damage your ball by contracting or shrinking it. It also makes the ball harder, which can make it skid or slide more when you throw it.
Appearance-wise, cold weather can end up discoloring your ball. It can take the form of subtle white spots, to more obvious swirls. Sometimes, this can lead to an all-around discoloration.
It is possible to get the normal color back once you warm the ball. However, in some cases, the discoloration can be permanent. Should this happen, you will need to have the ball resurfaced at a pro shop.
How Hot Temperatures Affect Bowling Balls
Just like cold temperatures, hot temperatures (25°C/75 °F or higher) can be bad for your bowling balls.
Heat can expand and soften them, which can result in you throwing a hook.
Immense heat can also make the balls sweat, which can then make the oils and dirt leak out. More than just giving you a dirty ball, this leakage can contribute to a poor bowl as well.
How Fluctuating Temperatures Damage Bowling Balls
While heat or cold direly affect your bowling balls, the real enemy here is the temperature fluctuation. These changes can do a number on the balls due to their construction.
The core of the bowling ball is usually made with dense material. Most spheres contain bismuth graphite or barium in either urethane, polyester, or resin – materials that allow the ball to easily absorb impact.
There are some balls, however, that have a ceramic core. While they don’t absorb the impact well – they can hit the pins really hard.
The coverstock or outer layer, on the other hand, contains porous polyester or urethane that can absorb oil and dirt.
Given the difference in materials, the core and coverstock can shrink and expand at varying rates, depending on the temperature.
To illustrate: the ball core usually expands faster than the coverstock, which means the pressure inside must go somewhere. As a result, this can lead to cracks in the fingerhole area, as this portion bears less dense coverstock material.
While small cracks are still repairable, they can worsen with continued exposure to temperature fluctuations. In time, these minute cracks will eventually creep through the circumference of the ball.
Although the damage may only affect the exterior at first, this is actually a sign that the ball integrity is already compromised. Should you use your damaged ball to bowl, you can expect the coverstock to separate from the core – right at the middle of the lane.
Just like extreme temperatures, the humidity in your garage can damage the ball too.
Little moisture can dry out the ball – which can then lead to cracks. Excessive moisture, on the other hand, can expand the ball and damage the core. While moisture results in little cracks at first, such issues can lead to irreparable damage in the future.
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How to Properly Store a Bowling Ball in the Garage
Here’s how you should store your balls in the garage to avoid the damaging effects of fluctuating temperatures and humidity:
- Keep the garage temperature-controlled, if possible. Maintain it at about 70 °F.
- Install a garage air conditioner or humidifier. Use any of these to maintain the humidity well within 40 to 50%.
- Open some of the garage windows during the hot days. This will help decrease the humidity in the garage.
- If your garage doesn’t have windows, install an exhaust vent. This will help lower the humidity levels during summer.
- Keep your ball away from direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure from such can damage the coverstock.
- Store the ball in its original bag or box, if you haven’t thrown it away. If not, the next best alternative is to keep it in a ziplock bag or tightly cover it with plastic wrap/bag. This will help insulate the ball. At the same time, it can protect the ball from the outside air that may ‘cure’ and crack it.
- Avoid placing your ball on carpets or other upholstery. The chemicals in these materials may end up destroying the coverstock.
- Rotate the ball. Doing a quarter turn every few weeks should help minimize the cracking that may result from pressure build-up.
- Don’t let the ball ‘rest’ on the weaker areas such as the finger holes. It will also help to use a foam rubber as a ball stand.
Other Good Places to Store Your Bowling Ball
As mentioned, storing your balls in the garage can be a problem if you live in an area with sub-zero winters and scorching summers.
Unless you can get your garage temperature- and moisture-controlled, the best place to keep your ball is in a closet in your home. Generally speaking, a place where you feel comfortable (in terms of temperature) is good for your ball.
Another good place to store your ball is the alley. Just like your house, the alley has the right temperature and humidity.
Despite the alley being an ideal storage place, you should still follow the storage tips above. Little things such as packing your ball properly and rotating it regularly will go a long way.
What to Do with a Frozen Bowling Ball
Should your bowling ball freeze up even with careful placement, it’s vital to warm them up before use. Here are some useful tips to follow:
- Bring your bowling ball inside the house to help it ‘acclimatize’.
- Rub the ball and cradle it with a warm towel.
- Submerse the ball in tepid water and warm it up gradually.
- Place the ball on the ball polisher at your neighborhood lane.
- Heat the ball with the use of a bowling ball revivor.
While it’s okay to store your bowling ball in the garage, you should be wary of the temperature and humidity as fluctuations in both can lead to damage.
To prevent this from happening, keep your garage at a nippy temperature of 70 °F – with a humidity of 40-50%. If these are not possible, it’s better to keep your ball in your home – or the bowling alley.
Avoiding direct sunlight, tightly packing your ball, and rotating it should help maintain its integrity as well.