Virginia Self Storage Tips

We’ve seen it too often. Tenants return to their Virginia storage units after months to find their valuable belongings moldy and deteriorated. Or they stack their boxes poorly, and the dishes at the top of the stack have fallen over and broken. Or a box bursts open on the move and scatters their things everywhere.

We’ve been in the industry for a while. We’ve seen it all. And to help keep you from making the same mistakes, we offer an extensive list of packing, moving, and storage tips. Read through some before you start packing, and we’re sure you’ll have a safe, smooth storage experience.

Storage Basics

Storage Basics Overview

Finding a storage unit can be an overwhelming task, especially if you aren't familiar with all of the options and features available. It's best to assess all of your storage needs before you even search for a local storage facility.

Consider how long you might need the storage unit. Many facilities offer discounts for long-term storage, but some may also have specials for temporary rentals.

Estimate how much space you will require. Save money by only renting the space you need. Feel free to use the self storage calculator to help you. Many facilities will store larger items including cars, camper and other motorized vehicles.

How often will you need to access the unit? Some facilities are accessible 24/7 and may even have drive-up access. Hours of operations range from facility to facility and should be taken into consideration depending on your needs.

Are any of the items you plan to store sensitive to temperature or humidity? If so, you will most likely need a climate-controlled storage unit. Typically the following items need to be stored indoors with some type of climate-control: leathers, furs, clothing, paintings, film, photographs, furniture, antiques, musical instruments, wine, paper, software, DVDs, CDs and electronics.

All storage facilities should have secure units, but if you require additional security for your possessions ask the facility if they have any of the following: fencing, surveillance cameras, motion lights, alarms, guards or a police presence.

You may also want to consider mobile storage for your items. If you decide to use mobile storage, a unit will be brought to you and removed after you have packed it. The unit will be stored at the facility or can be shipped to another location. The cost and features of mobile storage are comparable to self-storage but if you require regular access to your belongings, it may not be the best option for your needs.

Why Use Self Storage?

  • Reduce Clutter

    Renting a self storage unit can be a great way to reduce clutter and free up needed space at the home or office. A storage unit is a smart place to keep a few boxes, old appliances, memorabilia, heirlooms and old toys.
  • Security

    Often self storage units offer more security than homes. Self storage facilities provide security features not normally found on homes. In addition to a lock, facilities are often protected by a security fence, surveillance cameras, a gated entry, limited entry after hours, exterior lighting and possibly security guards or onsite management. You may choose to purchase an in-home security system for your home. While this may protect the items stored in your home, will it protect items left in your yard? What about that backyard storage shed? Self storage units give you the benefits of both extra storage space and added security.
  • Safety

    Some items pose potential hazards at home and need to be placed in a secure area to ensure the safety of your family. You may be handy around the house and enjoy renovation projects, but between jobs a self storage unit can keep those power tools, ladders, saws and drills away from curious children and, thereby, reduce the risk of possible accidents around the house.
  • Space

    Homes often do not have the storage space to hold large items. For instance, if you have ski boats, canoes or vintage cars, you may not have room for them in your garage or driveway. A self storage unit could give you a place to store such items that provides protection from the weather and some added security. If your garage has slowly filled with things like your exercise equipment and camping supplies and you want to reclaim it for your car, a self storage unit may be a perfect solution.
  • Insurance

    When renting a unit you may be required or at least offered insurance. Insurance will replace your valuables if they are stolen or damaged while in storage. Self storage insurance may be cheaper than homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.

Self Storage Packing Tips

Whether you need to pack a few items to put in the attic, send some boxes to a self storage unit to clear the house of clutter or pack everything you own in order to move, you want to do it right. This means packing carefully and thinking ahead. Take a few precautions to help prevent damage and make it easier to find things later. When summer rolls around, you want to be able to find the other half of your wardrobe without having to open and move stacks of boxes that weren’t clearly labeled.

Guidelines to keep in mind as you pack:
  • To aid in stacking, use same-size boxes when possible.
  • Avoid storing items in plastic bags as they are less sturdy and could trap moisture.
  • Fill each box completely to prevent the top or sides from crushing. If your box is filled with odd-shaped or loose items like glassware or toys, fill the open spaces with crumpled paper, bubble wrap or other packing material.
  • Don’t fill boxes too full. This may cause them to burst.
  • Don’t make boxes too heavy to move. Use larger boxes for things that don’t weigh much and smaller ones for the heavy stuff.
  • Use the right type of box or packing crate. For instance, use a heavy-duty box for your books as this is less likely to break than a standard box. You still need to be careful not to overfill it, though. Cell kits may work best for stemware or knick-knacks. Wardrobe boxes allow you to hang up clothing and fabrics while in storage.
  • Stack books; don’t stand them on end as this could damage the spines.
  • Stack plates on end. Wrap dishes individually and place like-sized items together. Nest individually wrapped cups together.
  • Wrap framed art in bubble wrap. Look for protective cardboard or plastic corners at your packing supply store.
  • Criss-cross masking tape across the face of mirrors or glass-covered art.
  • Store framed mirrors, photographs and artwork vertically rather than flat.
  • Label boxes clearly and on more than one side. Consider providing a general description like ‘kitchen goods’ and then providing a short inventory such as ‘potholders, towels, aprons, silverware’ so that no one opens this kitchen box when they need the pots and pans. Be sure to mark boxes full of breakables as ‘fragile.’
  • Clean items like clothing, blankets, drapery or furniture before packing them to prevent germs and dirt from being transported to a new location and odors from spreading throughout your storage unit.
  • Polish wood before you pack to provide a little extra protection from the elements.
  • Treat leather items with a specially made conditioner before placing them in storage.
  • Wipe metal objects with machine oil or another type of rust preventative.
  • Take apart items like bed frames and tables, and remove lampshades from lamps. This will help protect them from breaking and make them easier to move.
  • Cover furniture with sheets or tarps to protect them from stains, tears and scratches.
  • Place heavy items on the bottom of your moving van or self storage unit.
  • Place least used items in front of the van so they can easily be placed behind other items in your new garage or self storage unit.
  • Place valuable items like your television behind other items so that they will be more difficult to see and to steal.
  • Place boxes of fragile items on top of other boxes.
  • Consider the environment where you plan to store your valuables. Will it be very hot or cold? Consider renting a climate controlled storage room for items that could be damaged by extreme temperatures or humidity. This includes things like software, paper, electronics or clothing. Some items do best in cold storage such as wine and furs. In self storage units without climate control consider using a dehumidifier.
  • When choosing a storage unit, factor in a little more room than your belongings take up in order to allow space for you to walk between stacks of items. This will help you to find what you need after you store it. Leave a little room between the walls and the stored goods to improve ventilation.
  • Take a little time to plan and organize as you pack. This should make it easier to finds things in the future and less likely that anything will get damaged during a move or while in storage.

Personal Storage

Decluttering: Store or Keep?

As you look around your house, you realize that you have accumulated more than will fit into the square footage available in your home. It may be that you cannot abide junk and regularly rid your home of worn out items and things no one wants anymore. Still, you see that too many things are cluttering your home and hiding its style and pizzazz. You decide to rent a self storage unit. It will allow you to rotate your treasures in and out of your house at the whim of your inner design guru. Now comes the hard part. What should stay and what should be tucked away in your self storage unit?

Keepers
  • Hold onto clothes that are in season and that you wear regularly.
  • Keep at home practical items in regular use like silverware, towels, bedding and soap dishes.
  • Retain often used furniture.
  • Keep photos and wall hangings that add a spark to the décor.
  • Hold onto board games and enough toys to fill your child’s toy box.
  • Keep enough of your college student’s personal objects to make them feel at home when they visit.
  • File current bills and private documents like social security cards and bank account information at home.
  • Show off collectors’ items in a display cabinet.
  • Make room for sporting gear that someone in the house uses every few days (basketballs, yoga mats, bikes and more).
  • Carve a niche for that emergency household tool kit.
Storage-bound
  • Store out-of-season clothing and footwear.
  • Box up extra items that clutter your cupboards like excess towels, the good silver used only on holidays, extra blankets needed only in winter and toothbrush holders that have been replaced by a fresh design.
  • Store the rocker that only grandma sits in when she visits every six months or the footstool that no one uses but everyone trips over.
  • Store photos and wall hangings that make the room look too busy or just don’t fit your current design scheme.
  • Pack away extra toys that you have no room for. Rotate them in and out every few weeks so that your child can enjoy all of them. Involve your child in the decisions.
  • Put away your college student’s bags, balls and other belongings that spill out of his closets into other rooms or that make his room uncomfortable for guests.
  • Stash tax documents and other papers that may be needed but are seldom reviewed.
  • Store collectors’ items that take up too much room and don’t look good on display. If you have several collections or many items, you may want to rotate them.
  • Pack up out-of-season sporting gear.
  • Bundle garden tools together in the off season and stick them in a garbage bin in your self storage unit.
  • Ultimately, use your discretion to decide what stays and what goes. Label your stored goods well. If you are keeping them, you should rotate what you can into daily use every so often.

Document Storage

Document Storage Overview

Anyone who needs to store documents, whether a business or an individual, should take special care in where and how they save this data. Documents require special care when they are placed into storage. Fire safety is imperative, but special precautions should also be taken to avoid even small amounts of moisture as this also can destroy documents. A little humidity may be enough to cause documents to mildew when they are not stored properly. In addition, documents worthy of the expense involved in placing them into storage may be important enough to require strong security measures.

A self storage unit may be the answer for those who would like to remove document clutter from their workplace or home, but who also want greater personal control at a lower price.

Self storage facilities allow you to remove documents from your business or household and store them at a secure location, and storage facilities come in many forms. Those planning to store documents should look for more than just a room that protects goods from wind and weather.

  • Look for a self storage unit with adequate security. Consider features like lighting, cameras, fencing, onsite management and security guards.
  • Find a facility that offers climate control features like temperature and humidity control. Find out if the unit has individual controls or if the entire facility is adjusted by management.
  • Consider pest control. Ask the facility how they deal with this potential problem and look around the facility to see if it is clear of weeds, foundational cracks and other signs of trouble.
  • Be sure you can access the unit whenever you might need to review your stored documents.
  • Look for self storage facilities that specialize in document storage.

Military Storage

Military Storage Overview

Military members and their families understand that relocation comes with the job, often on short notice. Whether your move involves a Permanent Change of Station (PSC), Temporary Duty (TDY) or Temporary Additional Duty (TAD), self storage can be a convenient option for long or short-term use.

To prevent unnecessary expenses and last minute decisions, it is important to plan ahead. Whether you have six months or one week before moving, the smallest amount of organization can help.

Before you start packing, visit your military financial center and learn which travel and transportation stipends are available to you. When moving, the option is to either do it yourself or hire a moving company. There are military programs that can assist you if you decide to do it yourself. According to www.military.com, “The Do-It-Yourself (DITY) move is a voluntary program that allows you to be reimbursed by the government for moving your own belongings.”

Once you’ve started planning, there are many things to consider during your search for a public storage facility.

Determine your needs

How much storage space will you rent? Identify the items you will be taking with you and decide which items will be left behind. Are you storing a few small boxes or an entire household worth of furniture? Many storage facilities offer outdoor parking for car or boat storage, as well. Once you have figured out the items you will be stowing, a storage calculator is a handy way to determine the storage unit size that meets your needs, and it can also prevent you from overpaying for a space that is too large. If you’re relocating to another state or overseas for a long period of time, amenities like climate control and property security are important features to consider. Once you’ve established how much storage and which type, planning your budget and moving options is a much easier task.

Locate specials and discounts

Many storage facilities offer military discounts for active-duty personnel and their families. Also, if you will be deployed for many months or years, there are many long-term rental specials available and if it works within your budget, many storage companies offer pre-payment discounts.

Consider other services

There are a variety of additional services available at most self storage facilities. A majority of locations offer online and automatic payment options, which is very helpful for someone whose military deployment is an extensive assignment or in a remote location. Also, many storage businesses sell packing and moving supplies (such as boxes, locks, furniture covers and more), and also provide their customers with the option of truck rental – which is sometimes included in the rental at no additional charge.

Moves and deployments can be stressful experiences for military personnel and their families. When there are bigger issues to consider, moving your household and family should be a simple undertaking, and with proper preparation, using self storage can be a hassle-free process.

Choosing a Moving Company

Let’s face it: moving to a new home can be a frustrating and demanding process. But sometimes it’s a necessary evil. For many people, like military personnel who receive permanent change of station (PCS) orders every few years, moving is a part of life. The good news is: proper research and planning can make your move much less distressing so you can focus on the fun things, like arranging your new place.

Families essentially have two choices for relocating belongings: do it yourself, or hire a moving company.

If you choose to do it yourself, you will have total control over the fate of your things, which is certainly a nice benefit. What’s more, you will probably save a lot of money. But you will also have more work, fewer helping hands, sore backs, and no one to blame but yourself if your things get damaged.

Professional movers, on the other hand, are typically well trained in the laborious arts of packing, lifting and moving. Their process can go much faster than do-it-yourself and good movers know how to protect your stuff. If they don’t, replacements costs may come out of their pockets!

That said, finding and choosing a “good” moving company isn’t always easy. A Google search with keywords like “bad movers” can attest to that, and we’ve all heard horror stories from friends or family about disreputable companies. That’s why it’s vital to sort the good from the bad as early as you can. To ensure you get a quality moving company, you’ll want to put in some legwork.

Think about what you want from a move. Then, before you reach out to any companies, make a checklist of what you need and expect from your relocation experience. This list will help you keep your questions on track, your expectations clear, and your estimates accurate.

Prepare yourself before you request a quote:
  • When do you need to move? Keep in mind that movers are often busy at the end of the month, on Fridays and weekends. They may charge more for service in these premium times. Consider moving on an “off day” and ask if they offer a discount for relocation during the company’s less busy times.
  • Where are you coming from, going to? Are you looking to move locally, long-distance or overseas?
  • How much stuff needs to be moved? Write down the number of rooms in your home. Mentally walk through every room, listing the big items first (like furniture, appliances, and other items that don’t fit into boxes). Then try to work out how many boxes it will take to remove the rest of the stuff in the room. Don’t forget to think about garden furniture and the contents of your garage.
  • Do you want help with packing, or do you want to do the small stuff yourself?
  • Will you transport valuable or fragile items?
  • How much insurance will you need? Use your list to estimate the replacement value of each item.
Now you’re ready to start calling around for estimates. But whom do you call?

The best way to find a reliable moving company is by word-of-mouth. If you know someone who has recently moved, find out which moving company they chose and what they thought of the service. Your real estate agent might also be able to give a good recommendation (as well as tell you which movers to avoid!).

Use the web to search and compare local and national companies. Several terrific independent websites offer unbiased information and comparisons of movers, like 123Movers.com. But be alert: some mover-directory websites gather your contact information and sell it to multiple movers; your phone may start ringing a lot. A consumer ratings site, like Yelp.com, aggregates customer feedback for an expansive customer review.

Shopping and comparing; what to ask a mover:
  • How long has your company been in business?
  • Do you own your own equipment, or do you contract out?
  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • Are you a member of the American Moving and Storage Association?
  • Do you have any references that I may contact directly?
  • Will you do an in-home estimate, at no charge?

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of your movers, you should do a final check with the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to make sure none of them have serious problems with unresolved complaints.

After talking to a handful of companies, arrange for at least three or four in-home estimates to get a better idea of your moving costs. It’s the only way to get a close-to-accurate moving quote, and it’s usually a good way to screen out scammer moving companies (who often don’t like to take the time to give you an in-home estimate).

Show the moving company everything you plan to move. The more thorough you are in detailing what has to be relocated, the more accurate the estimate will be. Also, let the estimator know about any issues at your home — or the home you’re moving to — that could complicate the process. Lots of stairs, narrow angles and poor driveway access are just a few examples that might add to your overall costs.

Comparing quotes will help you decide which company to choose, but try not to make your choice by cost alone. It may be smarter to spend a little more money and get the company with the best reputation. If you just have a bad feeling you can’t explain but the price is right, trust your gut over your wallet.

Once you make a decision, you’ll be asked to sign a contract outlining the details of your move. Read. The. Contract. If anything seems strange or confusing, ask for clarification. Make notes right on your contract. If the mover dismisses any phrase in the contract by suggesting, “Don’t worry about that,” cross out the sentence. Ask the mover to initial and date any contract changes in pen.

Don’t forget to give your movers a call a few days beforehand to confirm your arrangements. Be sure you (or a trusted friend) attend all inventory counts and truck weigh-ins in person. Make your own notes. Keep all documents and records in a safe place where they can’t be misplaced during the move.

These basic guidelines should help you position yourself for a successful move. But in the end if you feel like you’ve been taken advantage of, cheated in some way, or robbed by a mover, report it immediately and report it often.

Home Appliance

Home Appliance Storage

It can be difficult to make space in your home or garage for unused appliances. But because new appliances are expensive, many people prefer to hold on to old ones for hand-me-downs, vacation homes, or back-ups. A self storage rental can be a convenient, affordable solution — short-term or long-term. However, if you don’t properly prepare your appliances for remote storage, you may return to find useless, moldy boxes. Below is some useful advice for secure appliance storage.

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding appliance storage, remember that your self storage facility manager may be a great source of information and guidance.

  • Run a final cycle

    Consider running an empty clothes washer and dishwasher through a complete wash cycle using either a cup of bleach or white vinegar instead of detergent prior to placing in self storage.
  • Drain liquid

    Empty any water from hoses, holding tanks, plastic tubing and other internal components. This will help prevent freezing and mildew.
  • Clean the interior

    Scrub and dry the interior completely — especially in refrigerators, dishwashers and ovens. Food and sugar remnants can attract bugs, even in interior storage units. In refrigerators, clean and dry the defrost pan — you’ll find it underneath or behind the refrigerator. In water-using appliances, wipe the rubber cushion seal around the perimeter of the door. Mildew tends to collect in this area.
  • Treat for insects

    Insects that infest food are found almost everywhere. To prevent an infestation, be sure to spray your clean appliance for bugs.
  • Clean the exterior

    Any motor-driven appliance will have an intake area (lint filter, tube or grid). be sure to clean this vent. A vacuum may do the trick, but if the opening is greasy, you might use an old toothbrush.
  • Remove glass and protect finish

    If your appliance has glass shelves or fragile parts, remove them and transport them separately. Appliances with finishes that can scratch or dent should be wrapped in blankets or bubble wrap. Refrigerators should be transported upright.
  • Secure with tape

    Use a strong tape to hold the appliance door closed. Even though the tape should only stay in place during the move, you may want to choose a type that won’t leave residue (such as blue painters tape). Once in storage, remove the tape and prop the appliance’s door open to prevent mildew.
  • Choose a suitable storage unit

    If you are storing your appliances in a region that experiences high temperatures, low temperatures, wide temperature swings, or high humidity, you may want to consider a climate controlled storage unit. Because climate control temps are kept constant, the mechanical/electronic parts of your appliances are better protected from rust and fissures.
  • Load last

    If you’re moving more household items into your self storage unit, put the large appliances on the truck last. This way, they will be the first to come off the truck. Refrigerators should be transported upright.
  • Unload first

    By placing appliances in the back of your storage unit, you’ll have easier access to smaller items that you retrieve more frequently.
  • Turn the power off

    The large majority of storage facilities will not offer electricity outlets in your storage unit. But if yours does have power, do not use it. Leave your appliance off for the duration of the rental.
  • Protect fragile parts

    If you store appliance parts separately (glass panels, shelves, etc.) remember to mark them as fragile and avoid stacking or leaning heavy items on them.
  • Prop open the door

    Find a way to keep the appliance’s door ajar for the duration of the storage rental. This will help deter mildew.
  • Avoid unwanted odors

    Place an open box of baking soda in stored appliances.
  • Conserve space

    Although some storage and moving companies advise against stowing items inside your appliances, careful preparation will offer additional storage space. A clean, dry, open appliance is a good spot to store lighter items, including fragile things. Do not jam-pack your appliance with heavy items, like books.
  • Cover and protect

    Use a breathable material such as a tarp or sheet to shield your appliance from dirt, dust or accidental scratches.

Boat Storage

Boat Storage

Taking the proper precautions is very important if you want your boat to be ready to use when spring comes. Failure to winterize your boat can cause significant damage such as cracks, leaks, corrosion, and frozen pipes. Freezing, dormancy, moisture, and corrosion can lead to large repair bills. In order to avoid costly repairs in the spring, it is important to take the proper precautions in the fall.

Here are some necessary steps to take when winterizing your boat:

  • Find a storage location

    Your options are storing in your garage, in your driveway or backyard, rack storage, a marina, or a storage facility. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for rules on safety, instructions on towing capacity, and storage tips.
  • Clean

    Be sure to give your boat a thorough cleaning inside and out. This will also let you discover anything that might need repair before putting your boat away until the spring. It will let you take care of any spills or messes that you may not have been aware of, and thus let you avoid having to uncover any mysterious odors in the spring. Clean your boat and apply a rust inhibitor on your steering and control cables and on the metal hardware.
  • Repair damages

    It is best to handle anything that is broken, worn, or damaged in the fall when boatyards are less busy than in the springtime rush. You also don’t want to leave something like a crack sitting all winter long, as damage could become worse.
  • Remove electronics

    All electronics should be removed and stored in a safe, dry, and warm place.
  • Prevent mildew

    Things such as cushions, curtains, sails, personal flotation devices, and fire extinguishers should also be stored. Lockers and drawers should be propped open to air out, and the refrigerator should be emptied out. To avoid mildew, keep the moisture inside your boat in suspension and on the move. A dehumidifier can help increase the interior air temperature and prevent moisture, as it keeps the air circulating inside the boat. Be sure to place some boxes of baking soda throughout your boat to absorb moisture.
  • Drain

    Drain the fluid from your manifolds and engine blocks, water pumps, and coolers. Be sure to drain and fill the gearcase with gearcase lubricants. Drain the port-a-potty, fresh water tank, and hot water heater. Add non-toxic antifreeze to your water tank, hot water heater, and port-a-potty.
  • Fuel and antifreeze

    Fill the gas tank to prevent condensation, oxidation, and gas spoilage. Be sure to add stabilizer to preserve the gas and prevent damage to the fuel system. Run the engine for about 15 minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the gas in your fuel lines. Put antifreeze into the cooling system and into the supply lines for the water faucets and shower.
  • Monitor oil

    Run the engine to warm it up and change the oil while it is warm. Dirty engine oil can thicken after long-term storage and make it difficult to start the boat when you are done storing it. Be sure to change the oil filter, too.
  • Prepare the engine

    You’ll also want to change the transmission fluid, remove spark plugs, and use “fogging oil” on each cylinder. Spray a towel with fogging oil or WD-40 and wipe down the engine.
  • Paint

    Sand the bottom of the boat and repaint it to prevent rust.By placing appliances in the back of your storage unit, you’ll have easier access to smaller items that you retrieve more frequently.
  • Prepare the battery

    Disconnect the battery cables and remove the battery. Clean the terminal ends, wash the battery with a solution of water and baking soda, and rinse it with distilled water. Apply a light coating of grease to the terminal ends of the battery and cables. Be sure to use a trickle charger to keep the battery charged. Store it in a dry, safe place and off of concrete.
  • Inspect the stern drive

    Thoroughly inspect the stern drive and remove any plants or barnacles from the lower unit. For stern drives with rubber boots, be sure to check for cracks or holes. Make sure you grease all fittings and check your fluid levels.
  • Clean bilges

    Bilges should be clean and dry. Use soap, hot water, and a stiff brush to clean up any spills from oil. Once the bilges are clean, spray them with a moisture-displacing lubricant and add antifreeze to prevent water from freezing.
  • Choose a proper cover

    Be sure to cover your boat tightly before storing it, even if it is being stored indoors. Make sure that whatever cover you choose has good ventilation. Also be certain there are no tears or damages to the cover.

Most insurance policies don’t cover damage caused by lack of maintenance, so winterizing is very important. The best way to winterize your boat is to check your owner’s manual; every boat is different. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help and ask lots of questions if you have never winterized before. It’s better to be safe than sorry.