A-Plus Mini Storage

Self Storage, Tips and Advice
Dec 20, 2014

Owner, A Plus Mini Storage

  1. Measure the actual size of your self storage unit prior to renting it.  If you are not able to measure the unit yourself ask the site manager the actual dimensions of the inside of the storage unit.  The listed size of a self storage unit is based upon its outside dimensions, not the actual size of the interior (same as a house).  Drive up units that have concrete block columns at the door generally have a listed measurement from the outside of the column to the back of the storage unit.  Because of the recess of the door, the inside of the storage unit could be as much as 14" less in length.  Most units will have metal framing on one side which is typically 2" x 4", and the corrugations of the metal sides also detract about 1.5" from the inside of the unit.  Therefore if you include the metal framing and corrugation the width will be about 5.5" smaller than the listed size.

  2. The width of the rollup door is important for those wanting to store a boat or other trailer (see Boat and RV Storage).  Typically, most boats over about 17’ will have a trailer with fenders in excess of 8’.  For most ski boats you will need a 10’ wide door, which corresponds to at least a 12’ wide storage unit.  The tongue of the trailer and outdrive (or outboard) will add about another 4’ to the required depth of your self storage unit.  Again, measure your unit to verify the boat will fit.  Also remember that tandem axle  trailers don’t pivit all that well.  At A Plus Mini Storage we have 12’x30’ units with 10’ wide doors, that are 7'  9" tall.  There is a 30’ access aisle between the rows of  storage units.  We have successfully stored boats up to 22’ in length, but I can say from personal experience that it takes every inch of available space to back the boat into the units.  Single axle trailers are easy to disconnect from the tow vehicle to pivot into position.   Two people working together are usually strong enough to push the boat in and out of the self storage unit if necessary.

  3. Cardboard boxes are way more efficient for packing your storage unit than plastic tubs.  Try this experiment.  Pack a plastic tub.  Then put a similar sized cardboard box beside it, and pack the contents of the tub into the box.  You will be surprised at how much room will be left over in the box.

  4. Use groups of boxes of the same dimensions.  This becomes very important when stacking in the mini storage unit.  Think of how you are going to vertically stack a certain group of boxes.  The bottom box should be filled with the heavy, non-destructible items.  As you progress up to each higher box, the boxes need to become lighter, and they also can be filled with more fragile items.  Obviously Home depot and Lowes have new boxes for sale, but consider (slightly) used boxes from places like Ace Hardware.  Some of these stores will sell boxes for cheap.  The ones I personally like are a perfect 1’x’1’x2’ in size.  When packed (even with books) they are not too heavy to lift.  They stack well, up to about 6’ high.

  5. Take the time to really label the contents in each box.  It is easy to get in hurry when packing, but you will never regret having spent extra time labeling the contents.  This will help to know how to stack them, or to locate a specific item at some later date.  

  6. Consider using file cabinets for storing items that you may need on a repeated basis.  In addition to files, these can be used for many other items that you anticipate needing on a repeat basis.  Also, file  cabinets are very strong, so consider spanning plywood across two or more cabinets, then stack the self storage unit to the ceiling!  Check thrift stores for used file cabinets at a reasonable price.

  7. Decide whether you want an indoor sself storage unit, or a drive up unit. Most self storage facilities offer both. Exterior units will range from 5x5 up to the maximum size.  But indoor units usually max out at about 5x10 or 10x10. For a building contractor, handyman, janitorial company, drive up units are the way to go.   But for household items it depends on your intended use (or how much space you need). Obviously moving is very strenuous.  So the thought of pulling up directly in front of a unit is very appealing.  If you don’t plan on needing items from the unit until the time of move out, then a drive up storage unit is the right choice. The issue comes if you need to get a certain item out of the back of the unit on the day of a down pour.  In Bend we are blessed with dry summers, but for the winter, the demand for inside units out paces the demand of drive up units.  Having a nice, clean,dry hallway to sort through your stuff can be quite a luxury in the winter.  If you plan on keeping the unit for a while and accessing it often, the indoor unit is for you.

  8. Protect your belongings with dust covers.  Most self storage facilities sell these for cheap.  Anyone who has lived in Bend knows this can be a windy, dusty place at times.  Check that the seal of the door is in contact with the ground.  Check for debris building  up under the seal, particularly at the outer edge in the track.  Check and see that this stays clean each time you enter your unit.  A single piece of gravel will hold the door up allowing dust to enter.   Regardless of how well a storage door seals at the bottom, dust still finds its way in along the sides of the doors in the gap of the guide rail.  Bottom line is if you want it to stay clean, keep it covered.  By the way, indoor self storage units are definitely less dusty than drive up units.

  9. Protect your belongings from rodents, particularly in the winter.  Regardless of how well sealed a self storage facility is, mice can still get in.  Use at least 2 different types of poison (the mice get wise to just one type)  At A-Plus Mini Storage we often put either Tomkats, or d-Con in units as they become vacant.  It is the tenant’s option if they want to keep it in their unit after they move in.  I have been told that Bounce sheets are a great deterrent to mice.  Simply spread these among your belongings, and the mice hate the smell.  We give these out as well.  Never store food in your unit.  A determined mouse will chew through boxes to get to food.  Unopened cans and bottles can freeze and rupture.    Even if you move in during the summer, circumstances change, and you may end up keeping your self storage unit into late fall or winter.  It is easy to forget items that you may have packed away.
  10. PROHIBITED STORAGE GOODS:  According to the Self Storage Association (SSA) the following are some (but not all) of the items that you should never store at a self-storage facility:  Animals (Live or dead), anything Perishable, Liquids, Explosives, Flammable Liquids or Fuels, Toxic Materials, Items needing a Controlled Environment.

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