STORAGE BASICS OVERVIEW
Finding a storage unit can be an overwhelming task, especially if you aren’t familiar with all of the options and features available. It’s best to assess all of your storage needs before you even search for a local storage facility.
Consider how long you might need the storage unit. Many storage facilities offer discounts for long-term storage, but some storage facilities may also have specials for temporary storage rentals.
Estimate how much space you will require when considering a storage unit. Save money by only renting the storage unit you’ll need. Feel free to use the self storage calculator to help you. Many storage facilities will store larger items including cars, campers, and other motorized vehicles.
How often will you need to access the storage unit? Some storage facilities are accessible 24/7 and may even have drive-up access. Hours of operations range from storage facility to storage facility and should be taken into consideration depending on your storage needs.
Are any of the items you plan to store sensitive to temperature or humidity? If so, you will most likely need a climate-controlled storage unit. Typically, the following items need to be stored in a climate-controlled storage unit: leathers, furs, clothing, paintings, film, photographs, furniture, antiques, musical instruments, wine, paper, software, DVDs, CDs, and electronics.
All storage facilities should have secure storage units, but if you require additional security for your possessions, ask the storage facility if they have any of the following: fencing, surveillance cameras, motion lights, alarms, guards, or a police presence.
You may also want to consider mobile storage for your items. If you decide to use mobile storage, a storage unit will be brought to you and removed after you have packed it. The storage unit will be stored at the storage facility or can be shipped to another location. The cost and features of mobile storage are comparable to self-storage, but if you require regular access to your belongings, mobile storage may not be the best storage option for your needs.
Check out more detailed storage tips on the left hand side of this page. There’s a storage solution for every situation.
Renting a self storage unit can be a great way to reduce clutter and free up needed space at the home or office. A storage unit is a smart place to keep a few boxes, old appliances, memorabilia, heirlooms and old toys.
Often self storage units offer more security than homes. Self storage facilities provide security features not normally found on homes. In addition to a lock, storage facilities are often protected by a security fence, surveillance cameras, a gated entry, limited entry after hours, exterior lighting and possibly security guards or onsite management. You may choose to purchase an in-home security system for your home. While this may protect the items stored in your home, will it protect items left in your yard? What about that backyard storage shed? Self storage units give you the benefits of both extra storage space and added security.
Some items pose potential hazards at home and need to be placed in a secure storage area to ensure the safety of your family. You may be handy around the house and enjoy renovation projects, but between jobs a self storage unit can keep those power tools, ladders, saws and drills away from curious children and, thereby, reduce the risk of possible accidents around the house.
Homes often do not have the storage space to hold large items. For instance, if you have ski boats, canoes or vintage cars, you may not have room for them in your garage or driveway. A self storage unit could give you a place to store such items that provides protection from the weather and some added security. If your garage has slowly filled with things like your exercise equipment and camping supplies and you want to reclaim it for your car, a self storage unit may be a perfect solution.
When renting a storage unit you may be required or at least offered storage insurance. Storage insurance will replace your valuables if they are stolen or damaged while in storage. Self storage insurance may be cheaper than homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.
If moving, do you want to pack and store items yourself or hire someone to do it for you?
If you value ease and saving time over saving money, you may want to hire professional movers who will come and pack up your belongings, move your items to their company-run storage site and then pack them up again and move them to your new destination. Make sure that you do your homework before hiring a mover. You’ll want to know that the company you hire is a reputable one before you entrust them with your valuables. Another thing to consider is that if you pack and store the items yourself you will have to pay for insurance, which can be costly. When hiring someone to do the work for you, insurance is often included in the cost of their services.
Do you need more time to pack, or want closer proximity to stored items?
You also may opt to rent a mobile storage unit. The mobile storage company will bring the storage unit to your house where you can pack it at your own pace. Then, they will move it to your new destination where you can unpack at your own pace. Some mobile storage companies also offer to help with the packing for an added fee.
Are the items you wish to store sensitive to cold, heat, moisture or dust?
If you are storing valuable items such as documents, furs, electronics, computer equipment, stereos or television sets you may want to opt for a climate-controlled storage unit. Many storage facilities also offer dust-free storage for your sensitive electronics.
Will want to switch out the storage contents seasonally?
Often you will want to store your summer wardrobe or seasonal household items such as swimming pool equipment or patio furniture during the winter months. During the summer you may want to store your family’s skis, snowmobile, snow blower and shovels. Storage space may vary for these items and perhaps even the need for climate-controlled storage or dust control. Make sure that you consider all your possible storage needs before renting your storage unit.
Do you need 24 hour tenant access?
Be aware that not all storage facilities will allow you access to your self storage unit during any given time of the day or night. Rules vary from one storage facility to the next. While some storage units are accessible 24 hours a day, other storage facilities have limited hours of operation that limit access to your belongings. Check the rules before signing a storage unit contract if round-the-clock access is important to you
Do you need to store large items such as cars, campers or other motorized vehicles?
Self storage can be a great option for storing vehicles. If needed, you can rent a climate-controlled storage unit to help preserve these items. You will want to be sure that you rent from a storage company with an established reputation. Safety is another factor to consider. You will rest easier knowing that your valuables are properly secured.
Is the storage facility you chose secure?
Compare the safety and security features of storage facilities before renting. Ask if there are security cameras on the premises. Is the storage facility equipped with motion lights or otherwise well lit? Some storage facilities offer security alarms and security fences. Still other storage locations have an onsite manager living on the premises who will keep an eye on whose coming and going. They will alert the police of any suspicious activity.
Whether you need to pack a few items to put in the attic, send some boxes to a self storage unit to clear the house of clutter, or pack everything you own in order to move, you want to do it right. This means packing carefully and thinking ahead, including thinking about your storage needs. You can take a few precautions to help prevent damage when packing your moving truck and make it easier to find things later. When summer rolls around, you want to be able to find the other half of your wardrobe without having to open and move stacks of moving boxes that weren’t clearly labeled.
Guidelines to keep in mind as you pack:
- To aid in stacking, use same-size moving boxes when possible.
- Avoid storing items in plastic bags as they are less sturdy and could trap moisture.
- Fill each moving box completely to prevent the top or sides from crushing. If your box is filled with odd-shaped or loose items like glassware or toys, fill the open spaces with crumpled paper, bubble wrap or other packing material.
- Don’t fill moving boxes too full. This may cause them to burst.
- Don’t make moving boxes too heavy to move. Use larger boxes for things that don’t weigh much and smaller moving boxes for the heavy stuff.
- Use the right type of moving box or packing crate. For instance, use a heavy-duty box for your books as this is less likely to break than a standard moving box. You still need to be careful not to overfill it, though. Cell kits may work best for stemware or knick-knacks. Wardrobe boxes allow you to hang up clothing and fabrics while in storage.
- Stack books; don’t stand them on end as this could damage the spines.
- Stack plates on end. Wrap dishes individually and place like-sized items together. Nest individually wrapped cups together.This will provide cushioning in the moving truck.
- Wrap framed art in bubble wrap. Look for protective cardboard or plastic corners at your packing supply store.
- Criss-cross masking tape across the face of mirrors or glass-covered art.
- Store framed mirrors, photographs and artwork vertically rather than flat.
- Label moving boxes clearly and on more than one side. Consider providing a general description like ‘kitchen goods’ and then providing a short inventory such as ‘potholders, towels, aprons, silverware’ so that no one opens this kitchen box when they need the pots and pans. Be sure to mark moving boxes full of breakables as ‘fragile.’
- Clean items like clothing, blankets, drapery or furniture before packing them into your moving truck to prevent germs and dirt from being transported to a new location and odors from spreading throughout your storage unit.
- Polish wood before you pack to provide a little extra protection from the elements.
- Treat leather items with a specially made conditioner before placing them in storage.
- Wipe metal objects with machine oil or another type of rust preventative.
- Take apart items like bed frames and tables, and remove lampshades from lamps. This will help protect them from breaking and make them easier to move and store in a storage unit.
- Cover furniture with sheets or tarps to protect them from stains, tears and scratches.
- Place heavy items on the bottom of your moving van or self storage unit.
- Place least used items in front of the moving truck rental so they can easily be placed behind other items in your new garage or self storage unit.
- Place valuable items like your television behind other items so that they will be more difficult to see and to steal.
- Place moving boxes of fragile items on top of other boxes.
- Consider the environment where you plan to store your valuables. Will it be very hot or cold? Climate controlled storage is usually the best option for valuable items. When considering renting a climate controlled storage room for items that could be damaged by extreme temperatures or humidity, (which includes things like software, paper, electronics or clothing), consider the items you’ll need to store carefully. Some storage items do best in cold storage such as wine and furs. In self storage units without climate control, consider using a dehumidifier.
- When choosing a storage unit, factor in a little more room than your belongings take up in order to allow space for you to walk between stacks of items. This will help you to find what you need after you store it in your storage unit. Leave a little room between the walls and the stored goods to improve ventilation.
- Take a little time to plan and organize as you pack. This should make it easier to finds things in the future and less likely that anything will get damaged during a move or while in storage.
It is often assumed that self storage facilities will automatically provide insurance for the items being placed into storage. This is not generally the case. Few self storage facilities will offer full or comprehensive item insurance within their standard storage rental fees. Some may offer basic coverage as part of the package based on the size of storage unit rented, but this may not be enough for your needs.
Although some self storage facilities won’t insist that you have insurance coverage, others will, and it makes sense to have adequate coverage for the items in your storage unit. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of well-being just because the storage facility you’ve chosen has implemented good security measures or has a smoking ban on site for example. Your storage items are technically out of your hands in self storage and, although the facility may be doing everything it can to avoid theft, the storage facility can do little against accidents and damage caused by fires, floods, storms, and other natural disasters.
It is recommended that you check your insurance options carefully before signing your storage rental agreement and placing your items into self storage. In fact, your first step should be to contact your homeowner/renters insurance agent to see if the items placed in the self storage facility will be covered by your current policy. It may be that you are fully covered for items stored away from home in self storage, or you may be able to pay an additional premium to get such storage unit coverage. This option could be cheaper than taking out a separate insurance policy. If you do provide your own insurance coverage, be aware that the self storage facility you choose may ask to see proof of your policy before renting you a storage unit.
Should you purchase insurance? Ask yourself these questions:
- Are my storage items already covered under my current insurance policy? This would include vehicles and boats as well as household items.
- Does the self storage facility offer any type of coverage?
- If an accident occurs and the storage facility is at fault, will your storage items be covered?
- If a natural disaster occurs, will your storage items be covered?
- Has the self storage facility had many claims made by other renters?
- Will the policy need to be updated each time a storage item is added or removed from storage? Be sure to keep a detailed list of what is in your self storage unit and its value.
- Are the items being stored of high monetary or sentimental value? If so, it may be worth the extra cost to rent a climate controlled storage unit.