Sometimes your home or business just doesn’t have the space available to hold all of your belongings. Or maybe you are facing a transition period, and you need to store your items somewhere for a shorter time period. In either case, you will need to find a storage facility to house your things. You might find it worthwhile to look for a climate-controlled storage building in which to pack away your items.
What is climate-controlled storage?
Owners of these facilities keep them at regulated temperatures and sometimes humidity levels. By keeping your items in climate-controlled storage, you protect them from being exposed to moisture. Some use the terms “temperature-controlled” and “climate-controlled” interchangeably.
Although it is most common with indoor self-storage units, warehouses and other larger facilities may offer climate-controlled storage options.
The bottom line is both the temperature and the humidity need to be in the ideal ranges to produce the optimal environment for your items. As temperatures increase, the possibility of higher humidity levels increases as well. Humidity is warm air causing evaporation, which leads to water vapor in the air. The higher the temperature, the greater the rate of evaporation. An increased evaporation rate means more water vapor in the air and ultimately more humidity.
So what are the ideal temperature and humidity levels?
To be precise, it varies depending on the item you are placing in storage.
Realistically though, people can’t store their things in different locations based on the type of material. So, the best thing to do is look for a facility that provides the best environment for your most temperature and humidity sensitive items. An ideal storage facility will maintain temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity levels in the storage facility should be below 60% but not lower than 30%. Controlled temperatures will have a positive effect on the humidity levels.
Again, it depends on what people are storing. For example, piano owners should store their instruments at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels between 30% to 50%.
What are the risks to choosing a storage facility that is NOT climate-controlled?
By storing your belongings in a facility that doesn’t control its climate, you run the risk of picking up damaged items at the end of your contracted storage period.
When humidity levels are high, at or above 60%, you face the possibility of rust, mold, paper rot, and wood degradation, among other damaging effects.
Conversely, if you have humidity levels below 30%, the air is too dry and can cause damage as well. For example, dry air can cause leather clothing or furniture to crack. It also can ruin wood furniture causing it to bend, break, or crack. When the air is too cold, it usually means the air will be dry as well.
If you are storing your items long-term, it is even more essential to consider climate-controlled storage. The longer your items are stored in less than ideal conditions, the greater the chance for damage from moisture or overly dry air.
Air circulation is an essential part of maintaining an ideal climate. Good air circulation prevents high humidity levels from being trapped in an enclosed space, which we’ve already mentioned can lead to mold growth.
Your items may end up far dirtier over time if you don’t use climate-controlled storage.
Dust can also become an issue without adequate air circulation as it will settle and accumulate on items. Also, the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems should be in good condition to not only maintain humidity and temperature but also filter out some of the dust. An overaccumulation of dust means more time spent cleaning your items after you remove them from storage.
You also may waste time worrying about the condition and safety of your items while in storage.
Peace of mind is a valuable thing and often underrated. You may incur extra costs and need to put forth more effort to find and contract with a high-quality climate-controlled facility, but it will likely be worth it in the long run. High stress levels won’t be an issue. You won’t feel compelled to check on your stored items frequently to ensure they are in good condition.
What types of items need climate-controlled storage the most?
People could easily argue that if you value something, you should store it in the best environment possible, which would be climate controlled. However, some types of items are more prone to damage from extreme temperatures or humidity levels. Here are some examples of things that people should store in a climate-controlled environment:
- Musical instruments
- Anything with leather
- Media including vinyl records, DVDs, videos
- Medical supplies and medicine
- Important paperwork
When evaluating a climate-controlled storage building, take note of how well sealed it is.
Does it mean you have to find air-tight storage space? Definitely not.
However, if you notice gaps in doorways or other unsealed areas, this could be a problem. Bugs will view these as entryways to shelter, especially if it is humid inside. Many bugs need moisture to survive and therefore are attracted to humidity. Not only can these bugs cause damage to your items, but they can burrow their way into things like boxes, mattresses, and other furniture and catch a ride to your home or business.
Storage companies that maintain their facilities and address these gaps or cracks will have an easier time providing an optimal climate-controlled environment for your belongings. Sealing gaps and cracks will also prevent moisture from entering the facility.
Storing your items in a well-insulated climate-controlled facility is particularly important if you live in an area with extreme temperatures.
High-quality climate-controlled storage companies would provide well-insulated buildings to protect their customers’ belongings. Thorough insulation is vital for regions that face very hot or cold weather at any point in the year. Without it, the outdoor weather would compromise temperature and humidity levels in the facility, and your stored items are at risk for damage. The insulation works hand in hand with other climate control tools and measures.
For longer storage periods, facilities need to protect your items through different seasons and weather conditions. Adequate insulation ensures the climate will remain relatively constant, putting your mind at ease that your items will be in the same condition as they were when you last saw them.
How much more is a climate-controlled storage facility?
The monthly rental fees for storage space will vary depending on several factors, including location, additional amenities, and sometimes the facility’s age and condition. On average, climate-controlled storage is estimated to cost 25% to 50% more than storage where the temperature is not regulated.
Climate-controlled storage will cost more because the company invests more money into the technology to maintain temperature levels. Owners also have other expenses including the utilities required to run this technology, which in the end affects storage rental costs.
If you are still on the fence about investing in climate-controlled storage, it’s safer to err on the side of protecting your valued items if you can afford the added cost. In many cases, it may be cheaper to pay the climate-control premium than to replace damaged items in the long run. Keep in mind some items may be irreplaceable, making the potential loss even more significant.