George Carlin once said that a house is just a place to keep our stuff while we go out and get more stuff. He may be on to something. As our possessions accumulate, complicating space and logistics, multiple solutions exist to help alleviate the problem. The first is to throw everything away. But some items, possessing sentimental value, are just not worth parting with. Furthermore, throwing out your winter coat because it’s warm out seems like a terrible idea. The second is to buy a bigger house, but let’s face it: we aren’t all in the position to do so. The third is simple, convenient, and intuitive: self-storage.
Whether you’re moving or staying put, self-storage offers a convenient, secure, and affordable solution to the problem of clutter. And it’s not as if units are in short supply either. Indeed, picking the right place, ensuring its security, and weathering a short drive to the nearest facility can clean up the garage in no time flat.
Once you’ve chosen your facility, you’ve officially done only half the work. Your unit may have the luxury of climate control (in some cases), but it isn’t sealed tight. For that reason, consideration must be taken for the external elements that will affect your possessions. Between bugs, humidity, and the contents of your unit, avoid the following mistakes and ensure that your valuables, your clothes, and your heirlooms remain safe and protected during their stay.
1. Choosing the Wrong Establishment
When storing your belongings in a self-storage unit, you are relying on the security of the facility to keep them safe. Even beyond the physical gates and security codes, you are trusting that the proprietor and other customers will leave your unit alone. For this reason, not doing the necessary legwork prior to storage can result in lost or damaged possessions, compromised units, and aggravation.
Be sure to perform an online search for providers in your area before making any commitments. Check out customer reviews and look for complaints regarding security or customer service. Drive to the site and inspect it for yourself to make sure the fences are secure, the doors sound, and the owner friendly. Furthermore, inquire into accommodations made for lost keys or forgotten security codes. Ensure that you can get access to your unit in case of an emergency, but also check that no criminal can deceive the security systems into coughing up your stuff.
2. Failing to Make a Plan
Your unit has its limitations, primarily space. Even with larger units, you are only given a finite amount of room in which to house your items. For this reason, storing your boxes, lawn mowers, and clothing will require a plan. The concerns are not simply logistical; stacking boxes too high or precariously placing valuables in the unit can lead to disaster, the value of which may be incalculable.
Start with a floor plan and work from there. Invest in metal shelving and store your boxes there, not stacked in corners. Leave walking paths for easy navigation and prioritize proximity to the door based on how frequently you will need the items therein. Label and organize items with a coherent plan and use visual indicators like colored tape or markers to distinguish boxes from different parts of the house from one another. If you must stack boxes, be sure that each box is full to the lid. This will prevent collapsed lids and piles of important items on the floor.
3. Not Sweating the Small Stuff
Self-storage has its benefits, but lack of due diligence when packing items can lead to inconveniences. Since all your items will be together, be sure to check for fluids in machinery or perishable foods to prevent permeation of smells. Check the pockets of clothing for keys and money. Such scrutiny can be stressful, but you’ll thank yourself when you find that fifty bucks in last year’s shorts.
4. Ignoring the Elements
As stated earlier, your unit is sealed, but not airtight. Bugs can make their way in along with humidity from rain. Both of these can create problems for your precious possessions so necessary precautions should be taken to account for them. Keep in mind that these tips also apply to climate controlled storage units.
For combating the elements, space and elevation are your friends. You are unlikely to experience flooding except in extreme weather circumstances, but moisture can condense on the floor, soiling bottoms and contents of cardboard boxes. Protect these by placing them on wooden pallets or metal shelving. To keep bedding fresh, try cotton mattress bags. For clothing, use wardrobe boxes that give clothing enough room to breath and prevent mildew. Finally, make sure that all boxes are sealed shut with tape. In addition to protecting from moisture, these measures will help keep dust at bay.
For bugs, don’t forget that any nasty chemicals you use will leave their smell on your clothing. If you find one bug, that means that there are others, so don’t wait to find insects before preventing their invasion. More friendly methods include dusting baseboards and corners with boric acid or diatomaceous earth. Lavender and cedar will help repel moths and air fresheners will ward off mice. Also make sure that boxes are free of holes or wear. This can help prevent pests from getting into your stuff, at least temporarily.
5. Not Maximizing its Potential
The bottom line is this: by renting a self-storage unit, you have a real opportunity to safely and securely store your unneeded things. Take the opportunity when cleaning to remove unnecessary items from your home and put them somewhere that you know they’ll be okay. If you’re moving, use the unit to house things while you transport others. Space is a precious commodity on this planet, so treat it as such.
Having everything at your fingertips is great, until it isn’t. Affordable, convenient self-storage is located near you, just waiting to alleviate your burden. Scout out a good location, make a plan for your unit, be diligent in packing and transporting items, and then store them safely. You may not be able to see the benefits now, but when your house is clear and your mind free to relax, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try out self-storage sooner.
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