By Tyranni Rineer, Certified Self Storage Manager
When you realize the best and most convenient route to go is to get a storage unit, there are some common mistakes to think about so you can avoid them. This list of items will help inform you and ensure you avoid creating issues that you may not have considered when using self storage.
Initial Packing of Belongings
First thing you will do is pack up your belongings. While it may be easy and cheap to head to the local store for boxes; be weary of those. These boxes are usually made for one-time use. You also never know what may be lingering in the corrugation, as they likely held food items during shipping. Lots of unwanted insects love to lay eggs inside boxes like these. Ensure that you are using new and clean boxes for your belongings. Free isn’t always better, especially in this case.
Make sure you are also giving yourself enough time to pack everything. Don’t wait until the last minute. This can lead to a hurried “throw it in a box” syndrome and be a very regretted headache later. Take time weeks and even months before your move day, and make a plan to tackle one room a week until you get through it all over time.
Ensure that you are covering your furniture. Most likely it is going to be sitting in the unit untouched for quite a while. Covering your furniture with specialty bags can help prevent dust, moisture, scratches, rips and tears from transport and while in your self storage unit for months.
Do not use newsprint to pack your items. While this may seem like the easiest route to go, it can also be one of the worst decisions to make. If the newsprint gets damp at all, it may easily transfer the ink onto your belongings. Make sure you are using either white paper and/or bubble wrap instead. We offer both packing paper and bubble wrap for sale in our retail stores inside the rental offices.
When the box is packed, make sure to label it correctly. This can be done by room, by person, and for clothes even by season. You may want to know which box your warm winter jacket is come a snow storm, or maybe where a pair of flip flops are in the summer. This makes it easier not only if you need to access anything while it is in storage, but also when you go to unpack in your new home.
Placement of Items in Self Storage Unit
Always make sure that the heavier boxes are at the bottom of the storage unit and stack lighter as you go up. Boxes can easily get smashed because a heavy box of books was placed on top of something much lighter. When the boxes start to crush due to weight, it warps the structure and can also cause the piles to fall creating more damage. And, those piles could fall on you when you are trying to get to your items, which is potentially dangerous.
Along with paying attention to heavy on bottom and lighter on top; make sure the stacks aren’t too high. It may be very tempting to stack the entire way to ceiling to maximize the space. This may cause the pile to become unstable and fall easier as well – not a good idea. Remember when playing with blocks as a child? You could only go so high until the blocks came crashing down. Use this same logic and ensure the boxes are sturdy when stacked and will not easily topple. Instead, take advantage of the storage unit height for cabinets and furniture and large items like that.
Are you going to need access to the storage unit often? If so, make sure to place anything you don’t need toward the back of the unit, and anything you may or will need soon or often closer to the front. You don’t want to dig out half your storage unit just to get the item in the very back. It’s also a good idea to ensure you have enough space to create mini walkways or access points to your items to make it easier to get something that is needed, no matter where it is located in the unit. We suggest placing items along the side walls and back, then doing a stack in the front center. That allows a U shape for you to walk into your storage unit and easily see and access all or most of your items. The larger the storage unit, the more “aisles” you should create.
Solely Thinking of Price
We understand everyone has different budgeting needs. However, be careful of using the price to dictate what you need. This can cause issues later on. Sacrificing size for cost can mean you won’t have enough room to store everything you need to or want to. It may also mean you need a second storage unit to have enough space to hold it. While no one wants to pay for more space than they need, too small of a unit can create a lot of issues. With less space, you will end up packing in boxes and other items way too tightly, creating a higher risk for boxes to crush or warp under the weight, items toppling over or items being damaged or broken. Not only is it risky, if your storage unit is too small it is going to be next to impossible to organize it correctly and find something you need.
Deciding not to get a temperature control unit because it’s not long term can also be a concern. If you are storing items that are temperature sensitive, such as electronics and antique furniture, damage can occur in a standard storage unit. A very common misconception is that you are only going to keep your storage unit for a short period of time. Keep in mind if an item isn’t supposed to go over a certain temperature or humidity, that any time in that atmosphere could cause major damage and potentially ruin the item. Something I like to tell anyone looking for a unit, is that if you would trust the items sitting in your car on a very hot summer day or in the car when its below freezing in the winter, then you can use a standard drive up unit. Drive up storage units have the potential to get very hot inside as the sun beats down on the metal door and walls, very similarly to how hot your car interior feels inside sitting in the sun. And in the bitter winter months, it can easily get below freezing inside a drive up storage unit when it is below freezing outside. If you have any concerns about extreme highs and lows for your items, opt for a temperature control storage unit to be safe.
When looking into prices for different storage locations, keep in mind the prices may also be in part dependent on the security of the property. Does the facility have a gate? Does is have a fence? Is it fully lighted? What about security cameras? Ensure the storage location you are going to store with has the security features in place that will make you feel safe about your items being there for a prolonged time. Don’t sacrifice security for a lower price.
Not Insuring Your Belongings
We always say that if your belongings mean enough to you to store, then they mean enough to you to insure! Having a valid insurance policy of your belongings is crucial, and it is a requirement of our rental agreement that you sign when moving in. While we never expect anything to happen, we can never promise that nothing will. This is why we offer third-party tenant insurance to our customers. Tenant insurance is designed to cover potential issues that could happen at a storage facility, and tend to cover things that most homeowner’s and renter’s policies do not cover. You are always more than welcome to use your own policy, but ensure that your insurance policy covers a storage unit away from your home and property. Not all policies cover items off site; some cover only a portion (sometimes only 10%); and check that your deductibles are not higher than the value of what you are storing or that they will go up if you file a claim.
No Food at Any Time in Your Storage Unit
One of the biggest issues is that you are not permitted to store any kind of food or other perishables inside your storage unit or on the property at any time. Doing so opens the flood gates to many issues; not just for your storage unit, but for others around you and the entire property. It doesn’t matter if they are dry goods, canned, jars, etc. – at no time should food ever be stored in the unit. Pests will sniff it out and come looking for a meal. If they find it, and even if they don’t, they will cause all sorts of damage to your other belongings. Just one food item can create an infestation, and nobody wants that to happen.
If you take all these precautions when using self storage, it will help you feel safe and secure that you did everything in your power to create a worry-free stay. Avoiding these common mistakes will prevent potentially dangerous issues from arising, and ensure the protection of your valued belongings while they are inside your self storage unit. If you have any questions at all please, feel free to contact us or talk to any of our knowledgeable property managers. And if you are ready to start storing, you can rent a storage unit 24/7 now and get moving!