By Martha Smith, Certified Self Storage Manager
There a few things you need to know when it comes to safely storing sensitive items like your priceless vinyl record collection, precious photographs and your expensive electronics. We will review the steps you can take to help prevent damage and keep your valuables in tip top shape while in your self storage unit.
First rule of thumb in keeping those old favorite records safe and free from scratches is proper packaging. Ideally the original album cover is best. However, if you don’t have it, any album sleeve will do. If you’re missing some album covers, you can make your own by using heavy poster board or thin cardboard. Simply use one of your existing album covers for the size, and fashion your new one(s) to the same shape and size. You can cut one large piece and fold it in half, then tape the sides. Or, you can cut two pieces, stack them together and tape the two sides and the bottom. Both methods work and create a safe pocket for your record to sit in. You want to make sure each album has its own cover. If albums are kept together with nothing in between, they will likely scratch over time due to shifting inside the sleeve when handling.
Next item to know is how to store them. Be sure you stand them upright like books to prevent them from warping. Never stack them on top of each other. You can store them inside storage totes or boxes for added protection, but remember to keep them upright.
Also, most importantly, consider humidity. Heat and moisture are the enemies of your vinyl collection. Do not store them in your attic because the heat rises and will surely warp your favorite 80s tunes. Your garage? Also not a good choice. Temperature changes from hot to cold are not good for retaining the shape and preventing warping or even molding. The best place to store your precious collection would be in a temperature control storage unit. The smallest unit, typically a 5×5, is probably all you need if you are only storing your record collection. This small storage unit size is usually available to rent for minimal cost. Another benefit if keeping your collection in your storage unit is keeping them safe and way from the kiddos. We all know that young children get into everything! Their sticky fingers and tendency to break things is not something you want for your priceless records. Your storage unit will keep that collection protected until you want to break them out and take a trip down memory lane.
Now, on to storing and preserving those special hard copy photos. Avoid heat and humidity for these also, as they will wreak havoc on photo paper. Any type of paper will eventually fade and crinkle with age if not stored properly. Most people now store photos digitally on their phones, tablets or laptops and in the cloud. But those memorable wedding albums and old family photographs you have displayed in your home will be stored away at some point. You should look for archival quality albums and boxes for the best storing result.
You should also scan each old photograph and save to your hard drive, just in case the original gets damaged. Your favorite photos could be lost forever if you do not back them up in some form. If you are not able to do this yourself, there are many businesses out there than can do it for you. Check with your local camera shop and art stores. If they do not offer the service, chances are they know someone who does. There are also online vendors who offer archiving your paper photos into digital format. However, this requires you to ship what is likely your only copies to them to begin. It is unlikely something will happen during this process. But, if they get lost in the mail or damaged during shipping, there is nothing you can do to get them back. So use caution when deciding on how to accomplish this step. You may be better off spending the $150-200 for a high quality scanner and take on the project yourself, if only for the peace of mind to know your photos are safe with you.
Temperature control storage units are your best option. Again, your garage and or attic should not be used to store these priceless memories. Moisture and humidity will also cause loose photos to stick together and dry conditions will make your photos brittle. A damp basement should also not be used to store hard copy photos, as doing so may cause mold and even insect infestation. The lower the temperature and the darker the room, the better for preservation.
Another thing to remember when handling photos or negatives, is to make sure your hands are clean and lotion free. Take extra precautions by only handling the edges, as any oils from your skin can leave marks. Don’t store photos in envelopes, wrap with rubber bands or hold together with paper clips. And you don’t want to glue or tape photos into albums or scrapbooks, either.
Following all these little, but very important, tips will aid in the preservation of your memories and allow you to enjoy your old photos for many years to come.
How you store your electronics when not in use is essential to the operation and performance of the device. Most electronic equipment will be damaged by extremely cold or hot temperatures, and humidity above 80% can be problematic as well. So, if you need to store your electronics for a long period of time, or during the extreme winter or hottest part of the summer, you will want to makes sure the environment where they are stored is dry and at an ideal temperature. For the most part your devices may be okay when stored in your garage, provided they don’t get wet and temperatures are above 0 degrees Fahrenheit. But for certainty, you could rent a small, temperature control storage unit, especially if you plan to store them for months on end.
If you have any questions about storing your sensitive items, you can contact us or reach out to any of our knowledgeable property managers. And, if you are ready to start using self storage to keep that priceless vinyl collection like new, you can rent a storage unit online 24/7.