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What You Should Know Before You Store

What you should look for in a self storage facility:

Security Camera Systems

The presence of security cameras can discourage criminal activity, but the number that a site requires varies with its size and layout. As a rule, more cameras means fewer blind spots which means a greater deterrent. Be sure and ask any self storage company you are considering how many cameras they have on the premises. Are they installed at every driveway, entry, and exit gate, as well as around the perimeter?

Another factor to consider is the picture quality of the cameras. That relates to the cost of each camera, such as a $10 camera off of EBay compared to an authentic security camera which can cost up to $1500. Each camera must be capable of providing a clear picture -- day or night -- if it is to be of use as a deterrent.

Lastly, cameras should record to a dedicated Digital Video Recorder (DVR). The DVR should have sufficient storage capacity to record in "real-time" and maintain 60 or more days of video history.

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Resident Managers

Before you select a self storage company, ask if they have a resident manager. A resident manager is an added deterrent to criminal activity. Having someone live onsite increases the likelihood that criminal activity will be noticed and reported. Another important question is, do they have a residence for a relief manager? Typically, if a storage facility has a resident manager at all, they only have one apartment for them. However, by only providing one apartment for a resident manager, the facility is left without onsite supervision whenever the manager decides to be out of town on his or her days off. Thieves prefer to work when no one is home and this could leave the site more attractive to criminal activity, since the relief manager is forced to live offsite. A better method is to have two apartments: one for the manager and one for the relief manager.


The cleanliness of a facility is an indication of the level of care and service that a storage facility will provide you. Let your first impression of the site influence your decision to store there.

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Climate Control

What is climate control?
Climate control is the process of adjusting the air within a given space to maintain a more stable storage environment. As modern technology has enabled us to control and more easily manipulate the level of comfort in our homes and workplaces; we have subjected the "things" around us to these same controls. Over a period of time, most manufactured items and products are designed to exist in a relatively narrow band of temperature and humidity. Natural items, such as wood or fiber products, adjust to our environment by absorbing or giving off moisture until they reach those levels that we maintain as our "comfort zone." Electronic gear and specialized equipment is likewise designed to be used, and stored, only within this comfort zone. Any departure from this specifically conditioned environment creates changes in the materials. These changes can be as subtle as musty smelling linens or as abrupt as the sudden glue failure of grandma's favorite dining room chairs. Climate controlled storage facilities can help protect your heirloom furniture and expensive new toys.

What to look for in climate controlled facilities?

  • Temperature should not exceed 78 degrees.
  • Cooling should be via air conditioning, not swamp coolers.
  • There should be a redundant cooling system -- meaning at least two air conditioning systems for each building so that there is a backup unit.

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Roof Type

There are three typical types of roofing used in storage facilities:

  • Mopped Tar
    The poorest type of roof, temperature changes cause expansion and contraction which results in cracks in mopped tar roofing. Cracks will result in water leaks.
  • Ribbed Metal
    The most common roof type, ribbed metal roofing is attached with metal screws through the roof area, where water flows. Why is this a problem? Temperature changes cause expansion and contraction which will result in the screws loosening. Water can then leak into the facility around the loose screws.
  • Standing-Seam
    Standing-seam roofing is the best type of roof for a storage facility. It is constructed with extra deep channels to carry water off the roof. The special design utilizes hidden fasteners with screws that attach high on the standing-seam and away from the trough where the moisture is channeled. No holes or screws penetrate the roof metal, so water leaks are virtually impossible.

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Building Construction

Self storage facilities are typically built out of one of two materials: wood or metal. Wood is the least desireable materal to be used for building construction and has two major disadvantages compared to metal.

  • Fire Resistance - wood construction is not fire resistant, metal is.
  • Pests - wood framing can be home to termites; exposing your belongings to infestation. Metal, on the other hand, does not attract termites or other insects.

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You may be tempted to choose a storage facility based on its location -- is it close to your home? But in reality, most people only visit their storage unit once every few months. Location is one of the least important factors for you to consider when choosing a self storage company.

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