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Make Sure Your Storage Has a Healthy Environment

In addition to the more routine questions you should ask about when visiting prospective storage facilities, you should be aware of how the environment of your storage facility might affect your stuff.

Here are some quick tips on what to look for when visiting a facility:

Outside the Facility: 

  1. Are the facility grounds cared for?
  2. Is there unkempt vegetation growing by the facility walls?
  3. Is the security fence intact?
  4. Are the parking areas well maintained?
  5. Is the outside of the facility well lit?
  6. Are there bait boxes for pests outside?
  7. Are the bait boxes well maintained and is the bait changed regularly?
Inside the Facility:
  1. Is the inside well lit and maintained?
  2. Are there smoke alarms in the building?
  3. Are there fire extinguishers and ceiling sprinklers?
  4. Is smoking allowed in the facility? (Some facilities allow smoking in the office area; others prohibit it in the building.)
  5. Is the staff courteous and respectable?

Climate Control:
You can most likely opt for a climate controlled unit at a certain fee. This is a better choice if you will be storing items sensitive to temperature changes such as leather, furs, musical instruments or wines. If you are inspecting a warehouse that offers climate controlled storage, inquire about how and how often they monitor the temperature.

Are the rooms equipped with devices that notify the company if temperature levels drastically increase or decrease? If there is a power outage, does the warehouse have backup generators? Does the warehouse have temperature and humidity chart recorders or other devices such as PC interfaces to monitor the conditions in the units? These are all important points to consider when deciding on a storage facility.

Storage contracts tend to exclude damage due to molds, high humidity or vermin as these are considered natural causes-unless you have paid for climate controlled storage.

Here is a list of what items you should consider storing in conditioned storage:

  1. Paper products such as files or important documents may rot due to high humidity
  2. Electronics such as computers, laptops or radios
  3. Home furnishings, especially antiques, may get wood rot if stored in high humidity
  4. Furs which you may want to store in a cold environment during the summer months when not in use
  5. Mattresses; dampness can destroy mattresses with mold growth and rust in the metal springs
  6. Musical instruments such as pianos that may be sensitive to changes in environmental conditions. Humidity can cause the wood to rot or instruments to rust.

What different environmental storage conditions are generally offered?
Humidity control, temperature control, temperature and humidity control and no-climate control are the four options generally available through most storage companies. The term ‘conditioned storage' will also be one you will often hear. This term implies conditions of less than 55 percent RH and 50-75°F. Some of the leading causes for damage to goods include high or low temperatures, humidity and storage conditions. Paper products, wood and metals can easily be ruined in high humidity levels. However, furs require dark, cool storage in an environment of 50-75°F.

Humidity Control:
Items sensitive to high humidity are generally kept in units with monitored humidity levels (below 55 RH). If certain goods are kept above 55 RH, molds and mildews may appear and spread to other items. For example, you may notice that a leather jacket which has been stored in the attic or basement for a period of time can have the tendency to smell musty and be covered in white spots or mildew. Molds and mildews do not pose any serious health threats. However, they have a reputation of triggering asthma.

Temperature Control:
You may have goods that require specific storage conditions and temperatures. Cold storage is ideal for furs, especially during the hot summer months when there is greater chance for oil loss because of the heat and humidity. In addition, cold storage naturally kills off bugs and insects that may otherwise damage your goods.

Humidity and Temperature Control:
If your goods require both temperature and humidity control, such as wines or furs, this is the option to choose. Furs are generally stored in large vaults with cold temperatures and very little humidity. You have most likely paid a lot for your goods and want to keep them in the best condition possible. Proper storage will help you do so.

Traditional Storage:
This method of storage offers no humidity or temperature controls. The unit is maintained at room temperatures along with the remainder of the warehouse; it is generally a few degrees below the outside temperature in the summer, and a few degrees above the outside temperature in the winter. The humidity levels are dependant on the outside humidity levels.

Pest Control:
You may have opted to pay extra for climate controlled storage to protect your goods. However, your goods may still be at risk for damage due to insects, pests or rodents. For this reason, it is crucial that you visit the storage facility so that you can investigate the current pest control program in effect. Warehouse operators should be prepared to respond to any concerns you may have about their pest control. They should be able to obtain a map for you with the specific locations of bait boxes, both inside and outside the facility.

When examining your preferred facility, ensure that the location is clear and organized. The outside walls of the building should have no vegetation and the grounds should be either gravel or cement. Question the facility operator about the procedure carried out if anything is found in the bait boxes. If they cannot supply you with an answer, choose another company. Any effective pest control program is based on follow up and corrective action when an issue is reported.

Insects can be extremely destructive when it comes to your goods. A building should be sprayed regularly, especially the areas where clothing is stored. If an infestation exists or continues in any area there should be an investigation to understand where the insects/pests are coming from. Most warehouses will also offer zapper units to kill insects that get into the building.

Keep in mind that your outdoor lighting should be directed at entrances and exits so as not to attract insects. Most insects, however, will die in low temperatures. This is another advantage of storing your furs and leathers in dark, cold vaults during the summer months. If you want to prevent insects or pests from coming close to your belongings, never place food items in storage with the remainder of your goods.

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