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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

6 Security Tips For Long-Term Storage

by Wesley February 9, 2022

Not every home or apartment provides enough room to store everything in your life. Sometimes you simply need more space, and that’s when a secure storage unit becomes a valuable asset. Cramming all of your personal belongings into the same place you spend your free time isn’t sensible. 

Home is meant to be a place where you can relax and recharge from a long day, but that can be difficult when you’re surrounded by chaos and clutter. A secure storage unit brings more balance to your life by allowing you the opportunity to stash important items at an alternate location.

In this article, we’ll discuss the best ways to choose a secure storage unit that will adequately keep your stuff safe by following these six security tips for long-term storage:

  1. Ownership
  2. Surveillance
  3. Location
  4. Locks
  5. Climate Control
  6. Call A Locksmith

Before you invest in a secure storage unit, there are a few general questions that will help you make an informed decision.

FAQs

What can you put inside storage units?

There aren’t many stipulations when it comes to what can go inside a storage unit. For obvious reasons, you can’t store illegal items or any highly combustible stuff that has the potential to cause a major safety hazard, but you do have flexibility.

Secure storage units are good for both large items like a car or RV, as well as smaller things like furniture, appliances, and other miscellaneous household items. A lot of the specifics are predicated on what type of storage unit you have.

As we’ll talk about throughout this article, storage units come in different shapes and sizes and also offer special features that accommodate your security needs.

How big are storage units?

Storage units are available in several different sizes depending on how much space you’re looking for. You’ll find the majority of units range anywhere from 25 to 300 square feet. The typical dimensions are divided into the following sizes in feet:

  • Smaller Units: 5×5, 5×10, 5×15
  • Medium-Sized Units: 10×10, 10×15
  • Larger Units: 10×20, 10×25, 10×30

The smaller units are ideal for things like furniture and a few boxes, as well some furniture. However, you’ll need a larger unit to hold bigger items. You may be surprised how much can fit into a 5×5 unit with an optimized system of stacking and packing items together. 

Larger units are more catered toward people who are looking to store bigger items such as sets of furniture, appliances, outdoor lawn equipment, cars, SUVs, RVs, and even boats. 

What’s the average cost of a storage unit?

The cost of a storage unit fluctuates greatly on the size and location. As you may expect, bigger units will cost more than smaller units. Where you live is also a major factor in pricing. Life Storage, one of the largest storage unit companies in the U.S., conducted a regional breakdown of storage unit costs in 2020.

According to data gathered by Life Storage, the average monthly cost of a 10×10 unit is about $107. That price can vary drastically if you live in a state with a higher cost of living and vice versa for states with lower costs of living. For example, let’s compare the average monthly cost of three different storage unit sizes in New York City versus Columbus, Ohio.

New York City, NY

  • 5×10: $202
  • 10×10: $420 
  • 10×20: $691 

Columbus, OH

  • 5×10: $54
  • 10×10: $84
  • 10×20: $166 

Much like the difference between property values and tax rates in different states, the average cost of a storage unit changes immensely from state to state. (Pro Tip: If you live in a big city and want to save more money on a storage unit, you might want to consider a facility located in the suburbs. It’s very likely the price will go down significantly.)

When can I access a storage unit?

It can depend on the company, but some storage unit facilities offer tenants 24/7 access. In general, secure storage units should have an advanced gate security system that allows you to enter and exit by punching in a code or pressing a button on a wireless fob. Similar to how you would open your garage door at home.

Certain storage places may be more restrictive and only allow access during specific hours of operation. These facilities sometimes have on-site employees that oversee who comes in and out of the property. They also manage the property and maintain office hours for prospective clients.

Choosing a storage unit complex with 24/7 access can be a personal choice. Maybe your schedule only affords you the time to visit your unit during typical off-hours. In this case, a facility with unlimited access is probably the best fit.

1. Trusted Ownership

Much like how people prefer to get to know someone before purchasing an item or perhaps investing in a new business venture, you want to know the person a little bit. Forming a personal relationship can be helpful toward building trust with that person, and in turn, creating future success. 

Renting a storage unit is a little less revolved around building intimate connections, but you still need to have trust. You’re choosing to store valuable parts of your life inside a place that you don’t own. That requires a basic level of trust. 

A simple way to see for yourself how a storage facility acts and operates is to check it out in person. Don’t book a unit online and show up there for the first time with all your stuff. Schedule an appointment and get to know the staff. 

By doing this, you’ll be able to observe firsthand how the units are secured, and you can ask questions.Face-to-face interaction with the people in charge of protecting your stuff will give you a good idea about your storage unit security and how they troubleshoot situations as well. 

Chances are the company has dealt with problems like people being locked out of their storage unit many times before. Depending on the size of the storage company and how many units they have, managers and employees could be getting calls daily from people needing assistance. 

This means it’s likely the company you are renting the storage space from will have a simple and quick method for solving issues, and you can rest easy knowing you’ll be taken care of.

2. Heightened Surveillance 

Assessing the owners and staff of the facility is only part of the storage unit selection process. On-site management is great for monitoring the grounds, but the actual security equipment being used is a crucial component. Outdated technology can jeopardize all the tenants who are renting units.

This is an important topic to analyze and ask questions about during your in-person visit. Take a look around and survey these security features:

  • Security Cameras
  • Gated Entryway
  • Surrounding Gates/Fences
  • Unit Doors/Locks

Even if you’re not an expert in security equipment, examining it up close helps you ask specific questions about the equipment that you may not be able to articulate over the phone or online. And it also lets you test how much the staff knows about their own equipment.

The people showing you around should be able to quickly answer your questions about every single one of the security features in detail. If you sense any hesitation or lack of knowledge, that’s a major red flag.

A secure storage unit facility’s owners should provide customers with the assurance that their staff and equipment are always making sure your valuables are tucked away securely.

3. Safe Location

Sometimes there’s a greater security risk outside of who operates the storage facility and what kind of equipment they use, and that’s location. Where the property is situated geographically plays a massive role in how secure storage units are based on factors such as the crime rate.

This may seem obvious, but storage unit facilities in areas with higher crime rates are less secure. It’s often a numbers game with crime, especially property theft. No single location is immune to criminal activity. It can happen anywhere, but the risk is higher in areas where theft is more concentrated. A useful tool could be looking up an area’s crime rate online before renting a storage unit. 

The likelihood of crime isn’t necessarily the only concern either. The businesses surrounding a storage unit facility could also be something to look at. For one, what kind of businesses are nearby? An establishment like a bar or nightclub is more likely to produce reckless behavior in the surrounding area, making property damage or theft a greater possibility.

There is no universal method to measure how secure a storage unit is. But familiarizing yourself with the area where the storage facility is located could help you decide if it’s a place you feel comfortable keeping your possessions.

4. Secure Lock

A truly secure storage unit must have the appropriate lock in order to keep your property safe. No lock is completely invincible and fully resistant to potential intruders, but the right lock gives you the most protection.

An important consideration is whether the unit is inside or outside? When a lock is kept outdoors, you need to worry about issues like weathering and water damage. A lock is not worth much if it rusts shut or breaks in some other way.

Metal locks deteriorate over time, and that directly impacts their effectiveness. Most storage facilities offer units that are compatible with padlocks. No matter what you can afford, you need a lock that is going to physically fit your storage unit. 

The hasp of your storage unit is what the shackle of the padlock secures onto. The hole in that hasp must be big enough for the shackle of your padlock to fit through. It must also be positioned in a way that allows for the shape of the padlock to fit properly.

The dimensions of the hasp cannot be too large to the point where the padlock’s shackle cannot fully close and secure. Padlocks and hasps are easy to install. Just make sure you are using the best padlocks for your needs.

5. Climate Control 

Modern advancements in storage unit security have made it possible for tenants to choose units that have controlled climates. Long-term storage increases the chances of your property suffering from heat damage over time.

Luckily, climate-controlled storage units eliminate this issue as it keeps your items protected as if they were in your own home. Security experts would recommend taking advantage of this amenity if you plan on storing expensive items for an extended period.

For instance, the security of your classic car would be immensely undermined if it was in an unventilated unit for several months. Direct heat over time could potentially damage your property, completely nullifying the need for storing your items.

Climate-controlled units are always more expensive than standard units, so be sure to check the pricing with facility staff. The extra costs are there to offset the additional energy needed to pump air conditioning into the units.

6. Consult A Locksmith

There are numerous factors beyond what we’ve discussed in this article about securing a storage unit. Industry-leading experts will be able to give you a better understanding of what goes into long-term storage, and they’re called locksmiths.

Locksmiths are professional technicians that can help you with more than just friendly words of advice, they can use their several years of experience to help you with your storage unit security in the following ways:

It’s important the locksmith who services your storage unit has a working and historical knowledge of locks. This will allow them to assess the potential weaknesses of your lock and diagnose the issues. They can also let you know about the best storage unit locks.

Locksmiths will also be able to recommend new locks or security if they believe you need an upgrade. Gaining more insight into your overall storage unit security is beneficial to the protection of your property.

Closing Advice  

Properly securing a storage unit long-term is a wise investment if you want to protect your personal belongings. It doesn’t matter what the monetary value of your property is, everyone places importance on what’s rightfully theirs, and you want to make sure it’s safe at all times.

Storage units are a great way to secure the items that mean the most to you, and calling a locksmith can even further that security. Professionals are available to assist you and share the same goal of protecting your stuff, which is also securing part of your livelihood.

Category: Buying Guides, Safety & Security

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