STORING UP TROUBLE?
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
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