Many people find self storage units to be the most convenient and affordable solution for protecting seasonal or unused items. But not all self storage facilities are equal in quality, and you should expect to do some careful inspections before settling on one. The most important piece of advice you can keep in mind when vetting potential locations is to visit the actual unit you’ll be rented, and not a sample unit; less-than-reputable companies will sometimes show you a clean, secure unit on an upper floor when in reality you’ll be expected to shove your belongings in a basement unit. And as you’re touring self storage buildings, there are also five specific things you should look out for:
- Water Damage
Inspect any unit you’re considering for evidence of flooding damage. This might show up as stains or darkened areas of wood, or the damage may be visible structurally (sagging ceilings and dividers, etc.). You should also simply ask the agent showing you the unit if the building has any history of leaks or flooding; you can’t take for granted that the answer is honest, but it’s at least a place to start.
- Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew will probably be present if there’s been flooding, but it can also form because of more general excess moisture. A visual inspection is smart, but you can also just step into a unit and take a whiff: Somewhat stale air isn’t necessarily cause for concern, but a musty or musky odor is.
- Rodent Problems
Obviously, live animals are a sign that you need to quickly move on to other self storage buildings. But the signs that rodents are living in a storage place can be more subtle. Watch out for small gaps, cracks and holes that might admit mice, and look for pellet-like droppings.
- Bug Infestation
Depending on the kind of storage facility you’re looking for, a few little bugs and spiders are often nothing to worry about (and impossible to prevent — think about the occasional spider that almost certainly makes its way into your own home). But quite a few bugs, or carcasses that indicate that poison has recently been sprayed, are cause for concern.
- Security Loopholes
As you tour self storage buildings, compare the security measures they have in place and weigh them against your own ease of access. The most secure and yet accessible facilities offer high-tech keypads with personalized codes so that you can reach your belongings at any time but don’t need to worry about anyone else getting in. But depending on what you’re storing, you may not find it necessary to pay for that level of security.
Do you have any other tips to offer on inspecting storage units? Share your thoughts in the comments.