Blog 22: The Do’s and Don’ts of Self-Storage

Thousands of Canadians use self-storage units to organize before a move or to de-clutter during a renovation. With more than 3,000 self-storage facilities throughout the country, Canadians have ample space to store their valuables.


And although self-storage is common in Canada and throughout the world, many people don’t know how to protect and maintain their units. Whether you’re a self-storage rookie or veteran, there are a few important tips to keep in mind.

The Don’ts

You might store valuable artwork and furniture in your storage unit, or maybe you use it as a space to set aside old high school trophies and relics. In any case, you want to keep these items as safe and clean as possible.

Take the following precautions to do just that:

  • Don’t give your key or access code to other people. This encourages theft and endangers both your belongings and other renters’ belongings.
  • Don’t store food or hazardous materials in your unit. Doing so attracts unwanted attention from pests, other patrons, and maybe even police. Take a look at our post on what not to keep in your storage unit to learn more.
  • Don’t use your storage unit as housing. While some storage containers can be repurposed into small housing units, you shouldn’t live in a self-storage unit. Storage units are great at protecting items that won’t fit in your house, but they won’t provide adequate living provisions.
  • Don’t stack your boxes more than 2 metres (6 feet) high. You’ll have a hard time retrieving items any higher than this and could injure yourself in the attempt.
  • Don’t keep items up against the wall. This provides ventilation for your valuables and prevents mould and mildew from growing on them.
  • Don’t pack your boxes too tight. If you live in a humid area, your items might develop condensation from time to time. If you pack your items too tightly, the condensation will gather rather than dissipate. This could ruin electronics, books, or artwork.
  • Don’t wrap your items in plastic or newspaper. Newspaper ink tends to rub off on items, permanently staining delicate cloth and artwork. Plastic often traps moisture, soaking your items and potentially ruining them.
  • Don’t modify your storage unit in any way. Strive to keep the unit in the same condition you found it to avoid incurring hefty fees at the end of your rental agreement.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Self-storage managers welcome questions because they want you to feel comfortable. They also want to protect your items just as much as you do.

The Do’s

Although there are plenty of things you shouldn’t do with your storage unit, there are even more things you should do with it:

  • Do keep an inventory. Doing so helps you determine what size of unit is best for you. It also prevents you from forgetting about items.
  • Do label your boxes. Many storage patrons skip this step, thinking they’ll be able to remember where they put everything. But after a month or two away from the unit, most people forget where they put what. Taking the time to label your boxes now will save you valuable time in the future.
  • Do keep the things that you use most at the front of your unit and less-used things toward the back.
  • Do line your unit’s floor with plastic sheets or tarps. Doing so cuts down on the amount of dirt and dust in the unit and also keeps your items dry if moisture seeps through the door during a rainstorm.
  • Do pack your items on wooden pallets or shelves. This has several advantages:
  • It keeps items clean and dust-free.
  • It prevents items from absorbing hot or cold temperatures from the ground, which could affect electronics and appliances.
  • It puts items out of reach of ants, spiders, and other pests.
  • Do leave refrigerator and microwave doors open to prevent mould and mildew.
  • Do disassemble items that have multiple pieces. This saves valuable space and protects them from damage as you move them back and forth.
  • Do drain oil or fuel from any motorized equipment you plan to store. This includes lawnmowers, weed eaters, chainsaws, oil lanterns, and dirt bikes.
  • Do purchase tenant insurance. Although the chances of something happening to your storage unit are slim, tenant insurance offers peace of mind. It provides an extra layer of protection to your beloved artwork and antiques.
  • Do check the unit on a regular basis. A big storm might put a leak in your unit’s roof or an electric surge might cause all of your unit’s light bulbs to go out. Visiting your unit at least once a month ensures that you can resolve big and small issues right away.

Keep these tips in mind to safeguard and maintain your self-storage unit. Take a look at our other blogs for additional information on how to make the most of your unit at Yellowhead Storage in Edmonton.