There’s no question that storage units are convenient. If you plan to move to a new home and want to store some of your items away in the interim, chances are that one of your first calls will be to a storage facility.
Of course, the facility you choose matters. Storage units are not all created equal. For instance, not every storage unit offers climate control features, and some units restrict your hours of access. The following are some tips that will help you keep your stuff safe and sound – no matter what type of storage facility you choose – while you complete your move.
Protecting Your Stored Goods
Most people understand the importance of choosing a reliable storage unit. But in addition to choosing the right storage unit, you need to be careful of how you pack away your stored items—otherwise; you could very easily wreck them. The following is an overview of how to prepare different types of home items for storage:
Dishes do not handle rough treatment well. One wrong bump or a fall and you could end up with a carton full of broken china. Because of this, it’s vital that you take the proper precautions when packing your items.
Simply lumping dishes into a box is asking for trouble. Protect each one of your fragile pieces by wrapping them with packing paper. Avoid using newspaper if you can help it; the ink may be indelibly transferred to the dishes. A cheaper alternative is to pad them with towels, cloth, or any other soft fabric found around your home.
For dishes, you’ll need a stronger box than usual—something that will be able to handle the weight of the items. If you cannot find a stronger box, consider reinforcing your standard box by taping the sides and edges. If you can afford it, look for boxes with individual cells. These come in handy when you’re packing different kinds of dishes in the same box.
In addition, choose several smaller boxes over one large box. Smaller boxes mean your dishes will be lighter and easier to carry, reducing the risk of your dropping them. How you arrange your items is also important. When putting the pieces in, rest each plate on its side. You can make the most of the space by nesting similar pieces together.
Your cups should be placed rim down. Fill up any of the open spaces with scrunched packing paper, which will prevent your items from moving around while being carried.
Thanks to the compact size and uniform shape of books, they fit neatly into boxes—but you need to be careful how you pack them. Standing books on their ends will cause the spines to warp and bend over time. Instead, stack them flat on top of one another. Don’t pack too many books into one carton; split them into smaller boxes to make them easier to carry.
Before you pack your books away, clean the dust off of each one. Leaving the dust that accumulates over months of shelf storage causes books to deteriorate faster. Check between the pages to make sure there is nothing trapped within. Left for months in a storage box, papers or markers can damage the print.
It’s also important that you choose the right type of cardboard box. One of the downsides of using low quality cardboard boxes is that they tend to degrade very quickly, leaving your books exposed to the elements.
Once the books are in place, fill up the empty space with packing material. Avoid packing material that contains acid or lignin, as the pH of these substances can deteriorate books. For good measure, wrap your book storage boxes in plastic wrap, especially if you are stacking them against a wall.
Storing Metal Items
The primary risk when storing metal items is rust and corrosion. You can prevent this by carefully cleaning each metal item before storing it away. Protect smaller items by wrapping them in plastic bags or non-acidic tissue paper. If you have a larger metal object, have it rubbed down with a little oil before covering it with wrapping material.
Handling Electrical Equipment
Take pains to store your appliances carefully. Most types of electrical equipment are sensitive to humidity and fluctuating temperatures. If you still have them, the original boxes for your electronics are a good choice, as they provide an easy, compact fit for your appliances. However, if you do not have the original boxes, you can also store your appliances by packing them into cartons.
If you’re packing multiple items into the same box, make sure that each item is carefully wrapped before you transfer it. Check to make sure your items are securely positioned so they don’t get damaged as a result of jostling during the transfer.
Finally, for large appliances – like refrigerators or freezers – make sure that their interiors are clean and dry before packing them away. Be sure to leave the door slightly ajar to allow for circulation.
To preserve the beauty of your favorite furniture pieces, make sure you protect them properly. If you have any assembled pieces of furniture, disassemble the units and have the individual parts wrapped and stored in bubble wrap or paper. Group related pieces together so you don’t have to look far for them once you’ve completed your move.
If you have furniture pieces with glass or sensitive surfaces, protect these by covering the fragile areas with packing paper or a sheet. Wrap the legs of your sofa with plastic wrap to protect them from scratches. Before you put your mattress away, have it wrapped in plastic. Never store a damp mattress, as this will result in the growth of mold and mildew.
What to Avoid
Not every item is a good fit for storage. For example, it’s generally a bad idea to store incendiary items. Things like paint, oil, diesel, or gas shouldn’t be stored with your regular household belongings. Leaving such items lying around doesn’t just put your belongings at risk—it also puts the items of other tenants whose storage units are near yours in danger.
You should also consider alternative storage options for your valuable items, like jewelry or prized paintings. These items require increased security and may be more susceptible to damage within your storage unit.
Don’t forget to clearly mark each box with its contents so that you know exactly what each carton contains. You should also note that sensitive items like clothing and furniture are best stored in a climate-controlled unit. If you can’t find a climate-controlled unit, be sure to purchase a moisture-absorbing system to protect your items from exposure to the elements.
Above all, make a habit of checking your stored items regularly. This way, if any item is in danger of being damaged, you’ll spot the risk sooner (rather than when it’s too late). If you take the right steps, your items should do fine in storage—just be smart when you’re packing and loading in your items.
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