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Long-Term Self-Storage Tips: How to Store Your Belongings Safely and Securely

Updated: May 31

Picture this: you've finally landed that dream job overseas, and it's time to pack up your life and move.

Happy airplane passenger

Or you're downsizing your home yet still clinging to those treasured items with sentimental value.

In instances like these, long-term self-storage is an excellent solution. But how do you ensure that your possessions remain pristine during extended storage?

This blog post will share essential long-term self-storage tips to protect and preserve your belongings like a seasoned pro — keeping them safe and secure until the day you're reunited. Trust us; your future self will thank you.

Choosing a climate-controlled unit to protect your items from extreme temperatures and humidity is essential for long-term self-storage.

Clean and dry all items before storing them to prevent attracting pests, use sturdy bins instead of plastic bags, label boxes clearly, and create an inventory list for easy access to specific items.

Regularly check up on the storage unit to address any potential problems. Finally, prioritize your belongings so that you can donate or sell ones you no longer need, thereby reducing the storage space required.

Preparing Your Items for Long-Term Storage

When preparing your items for long-term storage, there are several things to consider.

First, before packing anything, it's best to assess everything you need to store and consider selling, donating, or throwing away some items to reduce the required storage. This makes organizing more manageable and saves you valuable space in your storage unit.

One crucial factor to remember when storing items over an extended period is to clean and dry them before storing them. Any dirt or moisture left on your belongings could attract pests or cause damage over time. Ensuring all items are free from dust, mold, mildew, or other harmful substances that may lead to deterioration is essential.

Think of it like storing food in a pantry; you wouldn't place food with crumbs or spills on the shelves as it would attract pests and create a health hazard. In the same vein, keeping your items clean and tidy will ensure they remain intact and in their best condition throughout their time in storage.

Another thing worth noting is avoiding plastic bags as they trap moisture around stored items, leading to possible damage. Instead, opt for sturdy bin containers of durable materials such as cardboard or plastic.

Men's Clothing in Clear Plastic Container

These bins protect your belongings from unwanted moisture buildup and protect against impacts or scratches during transportation.

Using plastic bags is more convenient than purchasing storage bins and crates. However, the long-term damages caused by moisture will cost more money than buying suitable containers that guarantee safe and secure storage.

Now that we've highlighted the importance of prepping your items before storing them, let's discuss how best to pack and seal them properly.

Packing and Sealing Your Items

Labeling the outside of boxes and creating an inventory list makes it easier to find specific items when needed.

Box labels should be descriptive enough to know the contents inside but not too detailed to avoid attracting unwanted attention. With a labeled box system, you won't have to waste time rummaging through piles of boxes or opening several containers before finding what you're looking for.

When packing, remember to avoid overfilling boxes, making them excessively heavy, or leaving empty spaces in the bins. The more evenly packed your items are, the safer they'll be during transport or storage. It's also advisable to use bubble wrap or packing paper around delicate items like china or glassware to protect against potential damages.

A friend once stored his belongings together in one unit, and he mistakenly over-packed some boxes while under-packing others.

Unfortunately, some items sustained damage due to shifting around during transportation. That experience taught him the importance of evenly distributed item placement for safer storage.

Sealing all boxes appropriately and securely with durable tape is crucial to prevent dirt and dust from getting inside. You can also invest in moisture-resistant barriers like silica gel packets or plastic sheeting and cover furniture with a sheet to prevent dust from settling on them.

Plastic bags are a cost-effective solution for sealing boxes instead of purchasing tape. However, plastic bags are less secure than tape and can easily tear during storage or transportation, exposing valuables.

With these guidelines in mind, let's move on to the next section, discussing climate-controlled storage units and their benefits for long-term storage needs.

  • Proper labeling, even packing, and secure sealing of boxes are essential for safe storage.

  • Using bubble wrap or packing paper around delicate items is also advisable. Distributing items evenly in the boxes is crucial to prevent damage during transportation.

  • Sealing boxes securely with durable tape and investing in moisture-resistant barriers will protect your valuables during storage.

  • Avoid using plastic bags as a cost-effective solution for sealing boxes as they tear easily and put your valuables at risk.

Pre-Season Adjustments

Preparing your items for long-term storage is more than just packing and sealing them properly. Making a few pre-season adjustments before storing your belongings would be best.

These adjustments depend on the type of item you're storing, the length of storage, and the storage unit environment. In this section, we'll guide you through these necessary pre-season adjustments.

For clothing items, washing and ironing them before storing them in a storage unit is essential. Also, ensure the clothing is clean and dry; otherwise, it could attract pests or mold. If you're storing leather items like jackets or boots, make sure they're well-oiled before placing them in the storage unit to prevent cracking over time.

Similarly, use a mattress protector before storing it to protect it against dust mites and other allergens. Additionally, consider standing the mattress upright rather than lying flat if you're storing it for an extended period. This method can help prevent sagging and maintain the structure of the mattress.

Some may argue that prepping furniture items like tables or chairs is optional since they're sturdy. However, it's imperative to polish and wax wooden furniture surfaces before storing them, as this helps reduce moisture absorption, which can lead to warping or damage from humidity.

Consider preparing your items for long-term storage, like getting ready for hibernation during winter — ensuring everything is secure and wrapped up properly to survive harsh living conditions during extended rest.

Now that we've covered pre-season adjustments, let's shift our focus toward climate-controlled storage units.

Climate-Controlled Storage Units

Humidity levels and temperature fluctuations can cause considerable damage to certain materials such as wood products, metals, electronics, artwork, and musical instruments.

Therefore, when storing your belongings for an extended period, it's essential to consider the environment of the storage unit because high heat levels, humidity, and moisture damage can lead to warping, cracking, corrosion, rusting, mold growth, and insect infestations.

Providers of climate-controlled units calibrate them to maintain a consistent temperature range and lower humidity levels by circulating filtered air throughout the facility.

Long-Term Self-Storage Units

By doing so, climate-controlled units significantly reduce the likelihood of damage from environmental factors such as humidity and temperature changes.

For example, if you live in an area with high summer temperatures like inland California, choosing a climate-controlled storage unit could ensure your prized possessions don't suffer any damage over time.

Some may argue that climate-controlled units are more expensive than regular storage units. However, it's often best to choose this option when you weigh the cost of potentially damaged items that would otherwise be fine when stored in a climate-controlled facility.

Think about climate-controlled storage units like a spa service that provides optimal conditions to maintain premium quality for your possessions.

Now that we've established why using a climate-controlled storage unit can be beneficial let's move forward into how utilizing security features can help keep your items safe and secure.

Benefits of Climate Control for Long-Term Storage

Climate-controlled storage units have become the go-to solution for long-term self-storage needs. But why are they so highly recommended? There are several key benefits to using climate control, including:

Protection Against Extreme Temperatures

One significant benefit of climate-controlled units is that you can store your items without worrying about extreme temperatures. In a standard storage unit, items can be exposed to sweltering heat or cold, which can cause damage over time.

With a climate-controlled unit, the temperature is regulated to remain within a safe range, protecting your items from any potential harm caused by weather fluctuations.

Preservation of Items

Another significant benefit of climate control is that it helps preserve your belongings' condition in the long term. Without proper temperature and humidity control, items like antiques, artwork, and vintage clothes can deteriorate quickly.

This type of damage may not be immediately visible, but it can cause irreparable harm over time. Regulating the temperature and humidity in a unit slows down these processes by minimizing exposure to natural elements such as moisture.

Like Storing Items in Your Home

Think of climate-controlled units as similar to storing items in your home. You wouldn't expose your belongings to extreme temperature changes otherwise, nor would you want them to develop mold from humidity or attract pests due to lack of maintenance.

Climate control provides peace of mind generally associated with home storage and ensures equal, if not greater, protection while it's out of sight.

Are they Worth the Extra Cost?

While climate-controlled units are undeniably more expensive than standard ones, their benefits make them worth considering if you plan on storing your belongings for an extended period.

They provide an extra layer of protection against adverse weather and pests that a standard unit can't provide. On the other hand, opting for a standard unit may be more economical if you don't have any sensitive items that require climate control.

Utilizing Security Features for Safe Storage

Regarding long-term storage, one of the critical concerns is ensuring your items are always safe and secure. This is where security features come into play, such as:

Gated Access and Security Cameras Deter Intruders

Self-storage facilities often use gated access and security cameras as deterrents for uninvited guests. This facility ensures that only renters with valid credentials enter the premises.

Furthermore, around-the-clock monitoring enables staff-related issues to be caught early, increasing the response rate in case suspicious behavior arises. A camera system can even help reassure clients concerned about their property and serve as evidence gathering during incidents.

Insurance Policies Cover Loss or Damage

Another feature most self-storage facilities offer is insurance policies to ease financial loss in the event of theft or damage.

While coverage may differ between companies, you can choose what you're insured against, how much coverage you receive, and whether there's an excess claim fee. Having this backup and any personal or car insurance can mitigate risks should anything negative occur.

Securing Your Belongings Like Your Home

When considering storage options, consider your belongings within a secondary household space.

For example, you'd not want intruders coming into your home without permission and stealing from you; likewise, you wouldn't want someone breaking into your storage unit and stealing those items you may not see frequently but are just as valuable (emotionally or financially).

DIY Security vs. Professional Facilities

While some people might opt to purchase locks or set up alarms themselves, utilizing professional facilities for storage is the most secure option.

Self-storage facilities implement multiple measures to ensure that your items stay safe, such as pest and fire control, to ensure tracking devices are displayed on your unit listings for law enforcement should an incident occur. But if you manage or rent a storage facility outside a professional establishment, you must educate yourself on proper security measures.

Tips for Outdoor Storage Units and Weather Protection

While climate-controlled units are ideal for long-term storage, they may not be necessary or available in every situation. In cases where outdoor storage units are the only option, it is crucial to take preventative measures to protect your belongings from weather damage.

One of the most significant risks of storing items in outdoor units is exposure to moisture. Whether it's rain, snow, or humidity, moisture can cause irreparable damage to your belongings.

To prevent this, consider using waterproof lids for your bins and containers, covering any furniture with tarps or plastic sheets, and placing all items at least a few inches off the ground to avoid contact with any accumulated water.

Another important consideration is temperature control. Extreme heat or cold can cause significant damage to certain delicate items, such as electronics or musical instruments.

While you may not be able to control outdoor temperatures completely, there are some things you can do to regulate the environment within your storage unit. For example, consider using insulation materials such as blankets or foam sheets around your items for added protection.

Some argue that outdoor storage units are too risky and should be avoided altogether. However, this may not be a practical solution for everyone. Instead, weighing the options and making informed decisions based on individual circumstances is recommended.

If choosing an outdoor unit, research and compare different facilities for their security features and reputation for weather protection.

Think of outdoor storage units like camping — prepare for the elements in advance! Just as you wouldn't set up a tent without proper gear and planning for the weather, you shouldn't store your belongings in an outdoor unit without taking precautions against potential climate hazards.

Considering these tips when utilizing outdoor storage units, you can rest easy knowing that your belongings are protected as best as possible from environmental damage. Remember, prevention is critical for long-term storage, and a little extra effort upfront can save you from costly damage in the long run.

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions

How can you ensure your belongings won't be damaged while in long-term storage?

There are a few crucial steps to ensure your belongings won't be damaged while in long-term storage. Firstly, choose a reputable facility that specializes in long-term self-storage. In addition, a facility should offer climate-controlled units, proper ventilation, and security measures such as surveillance cameras, gated access, and onsite personnel.

Another critical step is to prepare your items for storage properly. This includes cleaning and drying them thoroughly, wrapping fragile items in bubble wrap or packing paper, and using sturdy boxes or containers that can withstand pressure and stacking.

Improper storage techniques can damage items such as furniture and electronics. The organic material on furniture can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

By preparing your items appropriately and choosing a reputable facility, you can significantly reduce the risk of damage to your belongings while they are in long-term storage.

Are there specific items that should not be stored in a long-term storage unit?

Yes, certain items should not be stored in a long-term storage unit. These include perishable items such as food and plants, hazardous materials such as chemicals and explosives, and valuable items such as jewelry and cash.

Perishable items can attract rodents and insects, causing damage to other items stored in the unit. According to the National Pest Management Association, rodents cause an estimated $20 billion worth of property damage each year in the United States.

Hazardous materials can harm the items stored in the unit and others who may come into contact with them. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency states that improper disposal of hazardous waste can severely affect human health and the environment.

Valuable items, such as jewelry and cash, are susceptible to theft. A study by the FBI found an estimated 6.9 million property crimes in the United States in 2019, resulting in approximately $15.8 billion in losses.

It is essential to carefully consider what items you store in a long-term storage unit to ensure they remain safe and secure. Avoid storing perishable, hazardous, or valuable items for peace of mind and protection against potential damages or theft.

What steps can you take to prevent moisture and humidity from affecting your stored items over time?

Preventing moisture and humidity from damaging your stored items is essential to maintain their quality and extend their longevity. To achieve this, here are some steps you can take:

1. Choose the proper storage unit: Look for a unit with climate control that regulates temperature and humidity levels. According to a survey conducted by SpareFoot, about 30% of self-storage units in the US offer climate control options.

2. Use desiccants: These are substances like silica gel packets that absorb moisture in the air. Place them inside boxes or containers with your items to prevent water from building up. One recommendation is to use 1 gram of desiccant for every 31 cubic inches of storage space (American Collectors Insurance).

3. Wrap items in plastic: Using plastic wrap or bags around electronics, books, and fabrics helps create a barrier against moisture.

4. Elevate your belongings: Keeping items off the ground can help avoid water buildup due to humidity or flooding risks.

By following these steps, you can minimize the effects of moisture and humidity on your stored belongings. In addition, preventive measures will ensure they remain pristine for when you need them again.

According to the National Association of Homebuilders, excess humidity levels indoors cause mold growth, allergens, and respiratory problems for people with allergies or asthma (NAHB Research Center). Therefore, it's crucial to safeguard all stored objects from such exposure while being cautious of any possible impact on human health.

What security measures should you look for when selecting a long-term storage facility?

Regarding choosing a long-term storage facility, security should be your top priority. After all, you want to ensure your belongings are safe and secure under lock and key. So what security measures should you consider when selecting a long-term storage facility?

First and foremost, look for a storage facility with strong perimeter security. This could include high fences, gates with access codes or keycards, and security cameras that monitor the property 24/7. A study by the Self Storage Association found that 70% of storage facilities have security cameras on their premises.

Next, consider the quality of the unit locks. For example, ensure the facility provides strong padlocks or disc locks that can't be cut easily or duplicated. According to FBI crime statistics, the intruder gains entry in over 85 percent of reported burglaries in a year because of insufficient or missing security features.

Another essential factor is fire protection. Check if the facility has installed smoke detectors and fire suppression systems throughout the property. This is crucial because it reduces any chance of fire damage to your stored items.

Finally, it's worth considering insurance options when choosing a long-term storage facility. Most reputable providers offer insurance coverage against thefts, fires, floods, and other potential risks during storage.

In conclusion, when selecting a long-term storage facility, take into account perimeter security, including fences and surveillance devices; whether locks on units are sturdy enough to resist break-ins; if fire safety systems are in place throughout the premises; and whether they offer insurance policies to protect your belongings from risk factors. Feel free to ask questions regarding these factors before leaving your belongings there for an extended period.

How often should you check on your belongings in long-term storage?

How frequently you should check on your belongings in long-term storage depends on several factors. The first and foremost factor is the type of items you have stored. If you have stored perishable items such as food or plants, you should check them more frequently than other non-perishable items.

It is generally recommended to visit your storage unit once every month or two — or have someone check for you. But, some people may only check their items every six months or once a year. However, inspecting your stored belongings regularly is always recommended to ensure their safety and security.

Additionally, unexpected circumstances, such as natural disasters or theft, can occur anytime. A study by the National Climate Assessment revealed that climate change has caused an increase in extreme weather conditions, such as floods and wildfires across the United States. Therefore, checking on your stored items more frequently during periods of severe weather is highly recommended.

How frequently you should check on your belongings while they are in long-term storage largely depends on the type of items you have stored, as well as unexpected circumstances such as natural disasters.

It is always better to err on the side of caution and to inspect your stored belongings regularly to ensure peace of mind and security.

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