Keep­ing all that ‘stuff’ you just can’t bear to part with – be it clothes, old fur­ni­ture, books or elec­tron­ics – could cause more prob­lems than you might re­alise

Stockport Express - - Home Advice - With Alex Neill of Which?

Self-stor­age units used to be prac­ti­cally un­known. Now they are ev­ery­where.

In­dus­try body the Self Stor­age As­so­ci­a­tion counted over 1,430 sites last year – to­talling 42 mil­lion square feet.

Last year we spent around £550m on keep­ing stuff in self stor­age.

Cus­tomers were mainly those mov­ing home or go­ing abroad for a time, but a large num­ber are those with too many things to fit into their homes – be it clothes they’ve bought and never worn, but can’t bear to give away or that mega col­lec­tion of ir­re­place­able vinyl which can’t be played.

But stor­age bills mount up, so those 42 mil­lion sq ft are dwarfed by what we keep at home – in cup­boards, un­der the stairs, in gar­den sheds and in those garages where cars rarely live.

But keep­ing all that stuff in or around your home can cause prob­lems with rust, de­cay, pests and in­sur­ance poli­cies.

It’s easy to store badly – you waste space and end up with items only fit for trash.

Many homes have a dozen or more part-used paint con­tain­ers, kept be­cause they will be use­ful for touch­ing up scuffs and scrapes.

All too of­ten, the paint de­te­ri­o­rates. To max­imise life, en­sure lids seal prop­erly, turn the can up­side down and never keep wa­ter-based paints in ei­ther high or very low tem­per­a­tures.

Avoid stor­ing metal con­tain­ers on con­crete floors – they’ll rust.

Re­cy­cling un­wanted liq­uid paint can be dif­fi­cult. Never empty it down a drain or throw it in the bin. Leave the top off so it hard­ens be­fore bin­ning or take it to your lo­cal re­cy­cling cen­tre.

Leav­ing in­door fur­ni­ture in a shed or garage is an in­vi­ta­tion to ruin. If the weather doesn’t cause cracks and rot, then pests rang­ing from wood­worm to rats will see your old stuff as a new home.

The same goes for books, photo al­bums and other paper items. Pages curl, glue cracks – and pests pro­lif­er­ate.

Un­less the tins rust – al­ways a prob­lem with out­door stor­age – canned food will be ed­i­ble, just.

It suf­fers from heat and cold. But pack­aged foods go off quickly – and are an open in­vi­ta­tion to rats, creepy crawlies and other un­de­sir­ables.

You have to take care stor­ing elec­tron­ics, too. Just a small amount of con­den­sa­tion can wreck cir­cuits.

Even bi­cy­cles need at­ten­tion. Keep tyres pumped up or they’ll rot. Don’t for­get to keep chains and other parts oiled as well, or they can rust.


1. Take ex­tra care with flammable sub­stances such as petrol or gas cylin­ders. Just one spark from an en­gine or naked light could cause a fire.

2. Keep­ing cer­tain ma­te­ri­als in or around your home such as large quan­ti­ties of petrol, fire­works (some­times il­le­gal) or old news­pa­pers can in­val­i­date home in­sur­ance.

3. Fridges kept in garages, sheds and out­houses can cost more to run due to tem­per­a­ture vari­a­tions. They will also be sus­cep­ti­ble to rust­ing.

4. Con­denser dri­ers hate tem­per­a­tures un­der 5°C and your clothes won’t dry prop­erly. The most mod­ern elec­tronic dry­ers may stop work­ing – dis­play­ing a fault code.

5. If you keep wash­ing ma­chines or dry­ers in out­door spa­ces, en­sure good ven­ti­la­tion.

6. Most freez­ers are de­signed to work in tem­per­a­tures from 10-32°C – look for the “cli­mate class” on the la­bel (usu­ally shown as SN).

7. Com­mu­nity Re­paint, a charity, can help with large amounts of paint.

Many peo­ple use their garage for stor­age rather than their car

Keep­ing piles of old news­pa­pers ly­ing around could in­val­i­date your home in­sur­ance

It can be dif­fi­cult to recycle liq­uid paint

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