Environment


There are many types of storage warehouses. You will need to research each facility and decide which one makes the most sense for you. Some warehouses are all on one level. Others are on multiple levels with convenient freight elevators. Many storage facilities allow you to drive right up to the door of your unit to load and unload goods. This may be a good option if you will be adding or removing items regularly.

Warehouse operators usually offer several different unit size options. Some are capable of creating space by moving temporary portable walls. Many facilities offer additional features for an added cost, such as climate control. When visiting a storage facility you should inquire about their services. Keep your eyes open and make note of the cleanliness of the warehouse, inside and out.

Ask yourself the following questions when visiting a facility:

Outside
  • Are the facility grounds well taken care of? Look out for overgrown vegetation growing up against the facility walls. Vermin love to hide out in vegetation and can burrow their way into the building

  • Is the security fence intact?

  • Is the parking area well maintained?

  • Is the outside of the facility well lit?

  • Are there bait boxes for pests outside? Are these well maintained and is the bait changed regularly?

Inside
  • Is the inside well lit and maintained?

  • Are there smoke alarms in the building?

  • Are there fire extinguishers and ceiling sprinklers visible?

  • Is smoking allowed in the facility?

  • Is the staff courteous and presentable? Would you want them looking after your goods?

When you visit a facility you should inquire about the following services:

Climate control
Many warehouses offer climate controlled spaces for an additional fee. The items you store may require some type of climate control to help prevent damage. Storage facility contracts exclude damage due to mold, high humidity or vermin when you have not purchased a climate controlled facility.

If you are inspecting a warehouse that offers controlled environmental storage, you should be prepared to ask some questions.

Ask how they monitor the climate. Are the rooms alarmed to warn if the temperature or humidity levels are not at the correct levels? Does the warehouse have backup generators in case of a power outage? Also, does the warehouse have temperature and humidity chart recorders (or other devices such as PC interfaces) to monitor the conditions in the units?

Here is a list of items you should consider storing in air-conditioned storage.
  • Paper products (files or important documents) that may rot due to high humidity

  • Computers and electronics

  • Home furnishings - antiques may get wood rot if stored in high humidity

  • Furs - cold environment during summer months

  • Mattresses - dampness causes mold growth and rust in the metal springs

  • Musical instruments - pianos may be sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, especially humidity

Humidity control, temperature control, temperature and humidity control and no climate control are the four options generally available in storage units. High humidity, and high or low temperatures are the leading causes for damage of stored goods. Paper products can be destroyed by high humidity. Furs are better stored in a cold environment and some furniture is better stored in an environment at about 50-75 degrees. Wood can rot and metal may rust due to high humidity also. You will often hear the term “conditioned storage.” This is considered less than 55 RH (Relative Humidity) and between 50-75 degrees. Continue reading for more on these options.

Humidity control
Items that are sensitive to high humidity are generally stored in rooms with humidity at levels below 55 RH. Mold and mildew can grow on most surfaces and can spread easily as the spores become airborne, but mold and mildew growth is inhibited at 55 RH. Old leather jackets that have been stored in the attic or basement can smell musty and be covered in white mildew spots. For the most part mold and mildew do not pose a threat to human health. However, there have been unsubstantiated allegations that certain molds can cause asthma to develop in people. High humidity can also cause objects made of iron to rust. The higher the humidity, the more rapid the corrosion.

Temperature control
Temperature control is what you need when your goods require storage in cold conditions. Furs were traditionally stored in cold conditions during summer months to prevent hardening of the leather due to oil loss from excessive heat and humidity. Shedding of fur coats is the result of this hardening. Damage from moths and insects can be extensive in furs so prevention is the key. Cold storage is also an excellent choice because the cold kills off bugs.

Humidity and temperature control
You can also choose a combination of temperature and humidity control. Furs today are often stored in large vaults that are temperature and humidity controlled. Proper storage is the only way to prevent degradation of expensive furs.

Traditional storage
Traditional storage offers no control over humidity and temperature. The space is maintained at the same temperature and humidity as the remainder of the warehouse. Warehouses are generally maintained at a temperature a few degrees above the outside temperature in the winter and a few degrees below the outside temperature in the summer. The humidity level is dependent on outside humidity levels.

Pest control
Climate controlled storage may not keep your goods completely safe. Pests such as mice, rats or insects, could still get at your products and damage your goods. Remember, insects are the single most destructive force in destroying clothing.

It is critical to check out the pest control program at the storage facility. The warehouse operators are accustomed to getting requests from potential customers concerning their pest control programs. Here are some things to look for when selecting a facility:
  • A documented program detailing the location of bait boxes, both inside and outside the facility.

  • A facility map showing the location of all bait boxes including those for insects.

  • Neat grounds clear of any overgrown vegetation. Overgrown vegetation attracts vermin.

  • No vegetation against the walls of any building. A gravel or cement perimeter about eighteen inches out from the building is ideal.

  • Outside lighting should not be directed at entrances and exits as light attracts insects

  • The inside of the building should be sprayed for insects regularly and / or have electrical zapper units to kill off insects that get inside the building.

  • Infestations should be investigated to understand the origin and whether or not it could multiply

Ask the facility operator what they do when they find something in the bait boxes, inside or outside the building. Do not use this facility if they do not talk about corrective action. Any effective pest control program is based on follow up when an issue is noted.

Never put food items in your storage space. Food items attract insects and vermin. Vermin have a very acute sense of smell and will locate any food items, destroying your other goods in the process. Food warehouses that store food for long periods of time have very specialized pest control programs, including a strong focus on prevention of vermin or insects getting into the warehouse.

Choosing a storage warehouse may take a little while. Start searching early and ask all your questions up front. Taking the time to find the best storage environment will ensure that your goods exit the facility in the same condition that they entered.