Many people store precious belongings, household items or business stock in self-storage units year round because they provide an inexpensive option to other forms of storage. But if you do have possessions in storage over the cold winter period ahead then it will pay you to prepare your self storage unit for the cold weather to ensure your items survive the winter intact.
A storage unit may be protected from the external elements of rain, snow and wind but it is unlikely to be heated and one of the issues with long-term storage is that moisture is present naturally in the air inside the unit and rises and falls in temperature will cause this moisture to condense on internal surfaces, and that includes your possessions. So follow these simple guidelines to protect your stored possessions for the long, cold winter months ahead.
- Firstly make sure everything is as clean as possible: shake out fabrics to remove dust and generally give everything a good airing.
- If you have stored items made of fabric, metal, leather or wood (and, let’s face it there is a high chance that you will) make sure they are not covered with plastic sheeting or bubble wrap. This is a common mistake because plastic will trap moisture, which will penetrate these fabrics over time. Use natural materials to cover and protect your items instead, like cotton sheets, woollen blankets, acid-free paper or corrugated cardboard.
- Anything made of leather should be treated with a specialist moisture-repellant leather protector as an added precaution.
- Anything made of wood should be treated with wax for the same reason – to repel moisture.
- Carpets, curtains and rugs should be rolled up with tissue paper or cotton sheets between each item.
- You can minimise tarnishing of silver-plated or solid silver items and protect other metal items by wrapping them in a cotton cover.
The moisture that is naturally present in air is harmful to a variety of materials but those most at risk are wood, fabric, metal and leather. If you have very valuable or precious items made of these materials then you may want to consider investing in a de-humidifier or rent a climate-controlled self-storage unit to reduce the amount of moisture in the air and give your belongings some added protection by taking professional packing advice for storage.
Included in the list of metal goods might be larger items such as a car, motorbike or motor home and these types of stored items will need some additional levels of protection to survive the winter months:
- Drain the engine oil and replace it with fresh oil
- Make sure the windscreen wash has the right amount of anti-freeze for the temperatures you are expecting over the winter.
- Leave the handbrake off to prevent it seizing up – as an added precaution you may want to place bricks strategically to avoid any movement of the vehicle.
- Leave windows open a small amount to improve air circulation and avoid condensation.
- Use WD40 (or similar) on moving metal parts to prevent corrosion
- Oil the locks if you are expecting very low temperatures for a prolonged period.