Here are some tips to help you avoid common problems and make your storage experience go as smooth
Make packing for storage easier on yourself by planning ahead. Start by making a list of all of the items you are going to store and their approximate sizes. Also, gather up plenty of sturdy, corrugated cartons, packing paper, bubble wrap, packaging tape and marker pens, along with any furniture covers or shelving you intend to use in your storage unit.
Secure all of your items in the moving truck. Packing heavy items near the front of the truck will help keep your belongings from shifting.
Pack heavy items such as books and tools in small boxes. For easier handling, limit the weight of each carton, regardless of size, to 30 lbs. or less. Pack books flat to protect their spines and fill empty spaces within the box with packing paper.
Clearly label the tops and sides of all boxes so you know their contents. Also, mark clearly all boxes containing fragile items.
Laying plastic on the floor of the storage unit and stacking boxes and other items on top of wooden pallets can prevent condensation.
Store sofas, couches and mattresses on their ends (not recommended for sofa beds, however). Disassemble furniture, if possible, and wrap table and chair legs with moving blankets, paper or bubble wrap to prevent scratching. Disassembled furniture takes up less space and is less likely to become broken or damaged when moved or stored. If a table cannot be disassembled, place a moving blanket on pallets/boards on the floor and place the table on its top with the legs pointed up. Most lightweight chairs can be stacked seat-to-seat or placed upside down on tables which cannot be disassembled. Disassemble beds and wrap mattresses in special bags available at most hardware stores to prevent them from absorbing moisture and from losing shape. Use cardboard corner protectors on mirrors, windows, screens and framed artwork and store upright on edge, not flat. It's a good idea to wax wooden furniture well with wood varnish to prevent moisture from affecting the wood. Also, try to store furniture toward the center of the unit with nothing touching the walls. Keeping items away from the walls and raised off the floor with pallets will allow air to circulate within the unit and cut down on humidity.
Avoid placing heavy items on top of furniture. Prolonged weight of a heavy object can cause permanent marks or indentations.
Covering your items with old linens, light cotton bed sheets or other breathable fabrics can help protect your items from dust, dirt and debris. Avoid covering furniture and other items with plastic. Plastic traps moisture, doesn't allow furniture and other items to breathe and is more likely to result in unpleasant odors and build-up of condensation. Trapped moisture can cause mold, mildew and rot.
Use wardrobe boxes to hang clothing, draperies and other fabrics so they can breathe while in storage. It's a good idea to place some moth balls inside the wardrobe boxes.
Use boxes that are a uniform size to store smaller items, as they are easier to stack. Also, keep heavy boxes on the bottom with each box stacked on top getting progressively lighter in weight. Filling boxes to the top with bubble wrap or crumpled newspaper will prevent half-filled boxes from collapsing if anything is placed on them. Wrap china and breakables with bubble wrap, newspaper or tissue paper and store in stronger cardboard cartons or plastic totes. Do not place heavy items on boxes containing glassware.
If storing a refrigerator or freezer, make sure the appliance is completely defrosted prior to placing in the storage unit and leave the door of the refrigerator or freezer ajar to allow ventilation and to prevent mold. Also, clean any food that may have dripped into a stove or refrigerator thoroughly prior to storing to prevent bugs.
If you are storing metal objects (lawnmower, bicycle, metal filing cabinet, metal furniture, tools), wipe all metal surfaces with a rag containing a few drops of machine oil or treat with rust protector first to deter rust. Long-handled tools such as rakes and shovels should first be cleaned and lightly oiled. Use pallets to raise metal items off the floor to prevent rust.
Do not store flammable or combustible materials such as gasoline, oil, cleaning fluids or paint thinner inside the storage unit. If storing any machinery that runs on gasoline, drain the tank before you store it and place plastic or cardboard under the engine/motor in case a leak occurs.
Never store food or perishable items in a storage unit, as they may attract bugs, insects and/or rodents. Don't store liquids that may freeze during cold winter months, as the containers may burst or explode when thawing occurs.
Use pallets to raise items off the floor to allow air to circulate and to prevent damage which may be caused as a result of moisture penetrating through concrete floor. Pack the storage unit so that larger and more valuable items are at the back of the unit, however not touching the walls, and position items you may need frequent access to near the front of the unit. Leave one or more small walkways between boxes and furniture so you can get to items you need without removing other items or moving things around. Also, leaving some space between your items and the walls of the unit will allow for air to circulate within the unit and help limit humidity. Place a good, sturdy lock on the unit door.
Verify that your homeowners or renters insurance policy covers the item(s) you are storing. Remember, if your items are worth storing, they are worth insuring.