Preparing Your Storage Unit for Cold Weather
Winter is right around the corner. Soon, it will be time to pack up your beach gear, your ATV, and your patio furniture and instead pull out your seasonal holiday decorations from your storage unit. This changing of the guard presents an excellent opportunity to prepare your storage unit for the colder weather ahead. As you might have guessed, different seasons require different storage preparation protocol. Summer is all about tackling heat and humidity. Winter? The freezing cold and water are your biggest enemies.
Climate-Controlled Storage: Is It Right for You?
When it comes to total control over the winter elements, there is no better choice than a climate-controlled storage unit. Located indoors, climate-controlled storage units allow tenants to adjust temperature and humidity levels to suit the needs of their items. Climate-controlled storage is a great option available to people who want total weather-related peace of mind — but it’s not for everyone. Below, we discuss the pros of climate-controlled storage, as well as some challenges to consider before renting.
Climate-Controlled Storage: Advantages and Benefits
Keeping Your Things at an Ideal Temperature. It’s right there in the name: climate control. These special units give you control over the climate inside your unit. Usually, this means temperature control, but many units also offer built-in humidity control too. Climate controlled units are located indoors, inside buildings with AC and heating — so even if you can’t adjust the levels within your individual unit, you can rest assured that your items are sitting at room temperature (or close to it) year-round.
Keeping Your Things Free From Mold and Freezing. Mold and valuables don’t mix well. Climate-controlled facilities specifically help keep your units from gathering mold. Mold is a microbe that grows in hotter, humid climates. This means that mold is not going to be your primary concern this winter, but come springtime there will be condensation and rising heat, which can lead to mold if you’re not careful. Climate-controlled storage stops the humidity and freezing air from ever being a major problem, thus stopping the mold from ever being a major problem.
Climate-Controlled Storage: Challenges to Consider
Since they are more expensive to build and maintain, climate-controlled units are going to be priced at a higher price than non-climate-controlled units. Depending on the area you’re looking at, this price increase can range from tens of extra dollars to hundreds of extra dollars per month. If you are storing very valuable items that need hyper-specific storage conditions, then it will probably be worth it to you to invest in a climate-controlled storage unit. But if you are storing stuff that is not that valuable nor susceptible to heat, cold, and humidity, then a climate-controlled storage unit may not be worth the investment.
Due to the cost of production, there are fewer climate-controlled storage options than traditional storage units available on the market today. This means that you may have trouble finding a climate-controlled option near you. Instead of driving four minutes down the street to get to your storage unit, you may be driving 25 minutes away to get to a climate-controlled storage facility. These trips to and from the storage unit can negatively impact your schedule and may lead to fewer trips to your unit overall. For convenience and regular use, it’s best to choose a storage unit that’s within 15 minutes of your home or business.
Unit Accessibility. Like location, accessibility is a big factor to consider when investing in a storage unit. Many of today’s traditional storage units have drive-up accessibility, which means you can bring your van, truck, or car within a foot of your unit to load and unload. Climate-controlled storage units, on the other hand, are a different story. In order to deliver sought-after climate control, these units must be located within a building capable of heating and cooling. This means you’ll be walking through at least two doors to access your items — a trip many may not want to make, especially when bigger items are involved.
As you can see, there are several factors to consider when investing in a climate-controlled storage unit. While these advanced units certainly come with precious peace of mind, they also may come with a unique set of challenges that may or may not be a deal-breaker for you. Check and see what climate-controlled units are available near you. You may find that there’s an option within your immediate radius and budget. If so, you can stop reading here. Now, we’re going to move on to everyone’s favorite topic, and one that applies only to non-climate-controlled storage: winterization.
Winterization 101: Tips for Preparing your Non-Climate-Controlled Storage Unit
So, you’ve decided that it’s best for your back, wallet, and gas tank to get a traditional storage unit. Maybe you already have one that you’re using, or maybe you’re helping a friend prepare theirs. “Winter is coming,” as Game of Thrones fans will say, and you need to get your storage unit ready. Proper winterization will help your unit and the items inside it stay in great condition during the year’s most brutal season. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Invest in a Weatherproof Lock
First thing’s first: your storage unit is only as good as the lock that’s keeping its door shut when you are not there. Many storage units will offer (or sell) you a lock when you purchase your first month on the unit. All of these locks will likely be able to lock up your unit when it’s 75 degrees outside, but that’s not always the case when temperatures start to plummet. Not all locks are meant to withstand the cold. Some are susceptible to freezing and may become completely unusable. Trying to fit a key into a frozen lock is bad news all around — for your lock, your key, your unit, and the stuff inside. If you are in an area that sees cold winter weather, invest in a weatherproof lock. Only slightly more expensive than regular locks, these all-weather solutions will save you major headache and hassle in the colder months.
Know Which Items Inside of Your Storage Unit are Most Affected by Cold Weather (And How to Properly Store Them!)
Knowing how to winterize your storage unit means knowing which are items are the most susceptible to cold. It also means knowing how to prepare those items properly. Below, we cover both topics for some of the most commonly stored stuff.
Delicate Memorabilia Items. As you could probably guess, many of your most delicate (and valuable!) items in your storage unit are the most sensitive to cold weather. Things like trading cards, documents, old photographs, and vinyl records should all be wrapped in plastic and sealed tightly. This will help keep humidity out, which will stop the freezing that causes cracking, tearing, and general degradation.
Things Containing Liquid. If your recall from your middle school science days, liquids expand when they go from a liquid to a solid. So, whether you have a collection of snow globes, a few old lava lamps, or some palates of beverages that need storing, you are going to need to be conscientious about how you store your items with liquids in them. Cover these items up well. Give them a thick layer of insulation from blankets, old clothes, or other materials that make for good insulation. This step not only cushions and insulates these liquid-based items, but it also provides a barrier to keep your other items dry in the event of an accident.
Vehicles (With Liquid). Just like pipes that go unused in the wintertime, your vehicles that run on gasoline (or some other liquid) need to be flushed out before they are stored in your storage unit during the off-season. Whether you’re storing ATVs, boats, lawnmowers, dirt bikes, convertible cars, or other vehicles, make sure they are completely free of fluid before putting them into storage. Vehicles that are not flushed properly stand a far greater chance of having important interior parts cracking from the expanded liquid inside. Learn to flush your recreational vehicles yourself or take them into the shop to get it done professionally. When springtime rolls around, you’ll be happy that you did.
Electronics and Battery-Operated Items. Many people don’t know this, but battery cells have liquid inside of them that can also expand and crack the battery (and possibly even crack the entire apparatus that contains the battery). This means that you need to take extra care to properly store your things with batteries in them. If the batteries can easily be removed, remove them and store them in a well-insulated part of your unit or back at your indoor property for the winter. Even if some of your electronics don’t have batteries in them, it is very important to store them properly for the winter so they don’t get water trapped in them and lose years off their lives — or break entirely. If you can, store electronics in their original packaging. If you no longer have the original packaging, store them in a box of similar size and fill up all of the empty space with either packing peanuts or bubble wrap.
Wood Furniture. Make sure your wooden furniture is dry (without being dehydrated) and wrap it using plastic wrap or a blanket. This will prevent mold and mildew during the colder months.
Snow Build Up. Be sure to remove any snow buildup against your locker door, roughly a 1-2 feet away so when you open your door, the snow doesn't fall into your locker or seep under the door.
Get Ahead on General Weatherproofing (AKA Insulating Your Storage Unit)
In extremely cold weather, getting your stuff up off the ground is going to be your best friend. Invest in some wood pallets if you can transport them to your unit. Wood pallets are great to put underneath all of your stacks of stuff to keep them off the ground. But if you don’t have the time to totally rearrange your storage unit so that you can lay down pallets on the ground, make sure that you at least get your most valuable and cold-sensitive stuff up off the ground.
Furniture pads are great for insulating as well. Consider investing in some furniture pads if you don’t have enough wool blankets to go around. They are relatively inexpensive and can be used for so many things beyond just weatherproofing your unit. Make sure your items are also not pushed up against a wall (especially a wall that is directly exposed to the outdoors), because cold and frost can creep onto your stuff through the walls.