If you are going to be storing possessions in a storage unit, then you should be aware that they can be damp or humid, and that can cause permanent damage to your items. There are several ways to get around this problem, however, and a few simple steps can help to ensure that your stuff stays dry and protected. Here’s what you need to know:
- Never rent a storage unit without visiting the site first, if you can help it. While you might not be able to see every potential problem, you should be able to tell if a storage facility is well maintained. Pay attention to the roofs and gutter systems of the units.
- If possible, particularly if you live in a particularly wet or cold area, consider opting for a climate controlled self-storage unit. Heating and cooling will help to control dampness in the unit and protect your belongings.
- Laying plastic or construction moisture barriers on the floor before you start packing the unit can help to prevent rising damp in the unit.
- Use plastic shelving or pallets to elevate boxes and furniture off the floor. Damp tends to rise, and if there is minor flooding in the unit, of a few inches or less, having your stuff off the floor and on non-porous plastic will help to keep it dry.
- Try not to pack anything right up against the walls. If there is a leak, chances are the water will find its way to a wall, and if your items are touching the wall, they’ll get wet too.
- If you are going to be storing metal items (like bicycles) for some time, consider wiping the exposed metal parts with oil to prevent rusting.
- Stack boxes packed with porous items like books and clothing on top of furniture, to keep it off the floor surface, and cover everything with a tarp or plastic.
- Make sure that appliances and other items that may contain water are carefully dried before storage. Heat in storage units can cause moisture to evaporate, and since it’s got nowhere to go, that can lead to moisture and mold.
- Invest in products that prevent mold growth, and treat items like mattresses and sofas before moving them into storage. Even a little moisture in a storage unit, with nowhere to go, can damage fabrics, leather and other items.
- Do not cover fabric items in tight fitting plastic before storing them (including hanging clothing in garment bags.) The plastic will prevent the items from breathing and will almost certainly result in mold.
- Invest in products that are placed in the room to draw moisture out of the air. These products, which may be similar to kitty litter, are designed to absorb atmospheric moisture in, so that it doesn’t soak into your belongings.
- Look into insuring the items that are stored in your self-storage unit, and make sure that you don’t store anything that is irreplaceable.
- Finally, if you live near your self-storage unit (or know someone who does) visit the unit from time to time to check on your belongings. Opening the door and circulating the air can also help to prevent that musty, dusty smell on your stuff.
There is always an element of risk to storing goods, whether it’s in an attic or basement in your own home or in a self-storage unit. However, with a little forethought and planning, you can help to ensure that your stuff stays dry and safe while it is in storage. Try to limit the time as much as you can, and choose a well maintained and well managed storage unit, and you should find that most of your belongings survive unscathed.