Your stuff should be safe in storage, but there are some items naturally at risk when you keep them in small spaces for an extended period of time.
The leading causes of damage to goods in storage are high humidity and extreme temperatures, and these are the items most susceptible to damage:
Environmental storage conditions
Paper products like important documents that may rot due to high humidity;
Electronics such as computers;
Home furnishings, especially antiques, that may suffer wood rot if stored in high humidity.
Furs (store in a cold environment during the summer months when not in use to prevent the oil loss from excessive heat and humidity, which causes the skin to harden); mattresses, dampness can destroy mattresses with mould growth and rust in the metal springs; and musical instruments such as pianos may be sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, especially humidity. They may get rusty and the wood can rot.
It’s more expensive, but if your stuff requires some sort of climate control to stay in top condition, choose a warehouse that offers it. Find out how the warehouse monitors the climate-controlled spaces, and inquire about an alarm system to warn if temperature or humidity are not at the correct levels, and if there is a back-up generator to deal with power outages.
Also, ask about temperature and humidity chart recorders or other devices to monitor the conditions in the controlled areas.
If you do not use climate-controlled storage facilities
, many companies exclude damage because of mould, high humidity or vermin, as these are considered normal risks of storage.
Four storage control options are generally available – humidity, temperature, temperature and humidity, and no climate control. Conditioned storage is usually considered as less than 55%RH and between 50-75 degrees.
It is desirable that items sensitive to high humidity be stored in spaces with the humidity level set below 55RH (Relative Humidity). Mould and mildew growth are inhibited at 55RH. Mould and mildew grow on most surfaces and their spores become airborne; this enables them to spread easily if there is high humidity. If an old leather jacket has been stored for a time in an attic or basement it will smell musty and be covered in white spots -- this is mildew. Objects made of iron can rust in high humidity conditions and the higher the humidity the more rapid the corrosion.
You should opt for temperature control if your items need to be in cooler conditions. Ideally,. Furs and other clothing are also liable to be extensively damaged by moths and insects; cold kills off bugs.
In traditional storage neither the humidity nor the temperature are controlled. The space has the same levels of humidity and temperature as the rest of the warehouse. The warehouse is usually kept at a temperature a few degrees above the outside temperature in winter and a few degrees below the outside temperature in the summer. The humidity level depends on outside humidity levels.
Even if you pay extra for climate control, your goods may still be destroyed or damaged by pests such as mice, rats or insects, which are not controlled by environmental temperature and humidity levels. So make a thorough check of the warehouse and ask about pest control programs:
Ask for a documented program showing the location of bait boxes inside and outside the facility.
- Look at the grounds of the facility, they should be neat and clear of overgrown vegetation as this attracts vermin. There should be no vegetation at all against the perimeter walls, and the perimeter should be graveled or cemented about eighteen inches out from the building.
- Ask if the inside of the building is sprayed regularly against insects. If an infestation occurs, an investigation must be undertaken to discover how the insects are gaining access to the building and how they are able to multiply. Most warehouses have electrical zapper units to kill off insects.
- Ask the facility operator what happens if something is found in the bait boxes inside and outside the building. If corrective action isn't taken, look elsewhere: An effective pest control program depends on follow up and corrective action as soon as an issue is noted.
- Light attracts insects, so all the outside lighting should not be directed at entrances and exits.
- Never put food in the storage space. Vermin have an excellent sense of smell and they will burrow their way through surrounding goods to reach the food.