Winter is a good time to put away and protect your outdoor furniture, equipment, and other valuables that you won’t be using for the next few months, as exposure to moisture and below freezing temperatures can be destructive to your personal items.
For households with limited space, using climate or temperature controlled (as opposed to unheated) self-storage in winter offers a secure and convenient option for storing seasonal items.
The items with which you should be particularly cautious include:
- Those that contain liquids - frozen liquids tend to expand, which can cause the vessel containing it to crack;
- Battery operated devices, as batteries can leak and damage the item they are in (and can spontaneously combust) - batteries should be removed prior to storage;
- Electronics - fluctuating temperatures can cause condensation inside electronics that may result in irreparable damage;
- Paper collectibles - extreme humidity fluctuation in a storage unit can cause the paper to wrinkle and degrade;
- Antique furniture - fluctuating temperatures may cause furniture to expand in hot weather and contract in cold temperatures, which may cause cracking in wood and joints.
1. Choose a climate controlled self storage unit
Climate and temperature control is designed to control or eliminate extreme temperatures and humidity levels in self storage units. Preventing these extremes will lower and even remove risk of damage to your items while they are in storage.
2. Clean your items before storing them
It’s important to clean your items before putting them away for storage to avoid damage and to avoid attracting pests and odours. Cleaning and protecting your items will also help ensure that they will be in good condition when you want to use them again at a future date. Most importantly, make sure your items are free of any moisture. For example:
- Wash or dry clean any clothing, as stains, oils and perfumes that remain for prolonged periods may damage fabrics;
- Put newspaper or shoe trees into footwear to help maintain form and shape - clean and protect leather to preserve appearance, and use original boxes if available to protect such items;
- Clean Garden tools to remove dirt and grime and to help prevent rust and corrosion;
- Clean BBQ cooking utensils to remove food residue and odor which might attract pests and rodents;
- Clean your off-season tires thoroughly and put them in separate bags;
- Pre-clean rugs or carpets, and put in sealed tubes or boxes to prevent infestations.
3. Cover your items
It’s recommended that you cover your valuables before taking them into storage. Be careful when using plastic or vinyl covers for fabric items, as they can trap moisture and water and put your valuables at risk of condensation moisture damage or mould. You can also use different covers or protective materials for different items, including:
- Wrapping breakables in newspaper or bubble wrap;
- Adding packing material like packing peanuts in storage boxes to protect your items from impact;
- Using sturdy wooden or plastic hangers and garment bags for clothing;.
- Using a sheet of tissue paper to separate woollen items help preserve the fabric.
4. Basic repair and maintenance
When putting things in storage, you’re probably going to want to use them as soon as you take them out of storage. Accordingly, it’s advisable to make sure that your items are in good repair when you store them. You also want to take care that anything you store will not leak oil or fuel and cause damage to other items. For instance:
You’re unlikely to use your bicycle during winter but you can prepare it for storage so it’s ready for use in the spring. Keep tires inflated to avoid damaging the rims. Lubricate chain, cables, and breaks to block out moisture and prevent rust and corrosion.
Small Engine Equipment
Drain fuel from small engines to prevent damage from a leak to another item or the storage unit. Further, old fuel may cause start up problems later. Drain oil to prevent leaks (but make sure to replace the oil before start up). Cover the equipment with a tarp or blanket.
5. Keep electronics off the floor
Always keep electronics off the floor ground to prevent condensation moisture underneath. Place your items on pallets, and if available in their original boxes, as they’re designed to house the equipment safely for long periods.