There is no single shape or size for a warehouse. It may be a single storey, or a multi-storey building equipped with freight elevators which will move the goods in and out of the storage. Quite often you are able to drive right up to the door of your particular storage unit. You can then unload and immediately place your items in the storage unit. This is particularly useful if you think that you may remove or add items to the unit regularly. Warehouse facilities can usually provide storage units of different sizes, and they often have temporary portable walls to create the needed space with no problems. Most warehouses can provide climate controlled space if you need special protection for your items. This will be at extra cost. Some warehouses have only non climate controlled storage, and others have the option of climate or non climate controlled space. In this case you may choose to store part of your goods in a non climate controlled unit and the items that require the more expensive option stored in the climate controlled unit. In this way you will not be paying extra money for the goods that do not need special storage.

When you visit a storage facility before arranging storage, it is advisable to look around you. Take note of the indoor and outdoor cleanliness of the warehouse. Do you think that the workers you see are the right people to look after your possessions?

Here are some tips to help you evaluate the suitability of the warehouse:


Are the grounds well maintained?

Vermin tend to hide in vegetation and they can burrow their way into a building. Check if you see overgrown vegetation against the walls.

The security fence should be intact.

Note the condition of the parking areas.

It is important that the facility should be well lit outside.

Check whether there are bait boxes for pests. These need to be well maintained and have the bait changed regularly.


Notice if the inside is well lit and maintained.

Check for smoke alarms in the building.

Can you see fire extinguishers and ceiling sprinklers?

Find out the warehouse policy in regard to smoking. Some facilities permit smoking in office areas, others forbid smoking throughout the facility.

Do the staff impress you as being well-mannered and presentable?

Climate control

If many of the items you are planning to store require some sort of climate control to remain in good condition, you should choose a warehouse that offers climate controlled spaces even though it is more expensive. When you are inspecting the warehouse you should verify how they monitor the climate controlled spaces. Find out if they have an alarm system to warn if temperature or humidity are not at the correct levels, and if there is a back-up generator to deal with power outages.

Ask if they use temperature and humidity chart recorders or other devices like PC interfaces, to monitor the conditions in the controlled areas.

If you do not use climate controlled storage, many companies exclude damage due to mould, high humidity or vermin, as these are considered inherent vices.

Not all items need controlled storage conditions. The following are some of the items which would benefit from the extra expense of conditioned storage:

Paper products such as files or important documents which may rot due to high humidity.

Electronics such as computers.

Home furnishings, especially antiques, may suffer wood rot if stored in high humidity.

Furs – It is advisable to store in a cold environment during the summer months when not in use.

Mattresses – dampness can destroy mattresses with mould growth and rust in the metal springs .

Musical instruments such as pianos may be sensitive to changes in environmental conditions especially humidity. They may get rusty and the wood can rot .

What different environmental storage conditions are generally offered?
Four storage options are generally available – humidity control, temperature control, temperature and humidity control and no climate control. Conditioned storage is usually considered as less than 55%RH and between 50-75 degrees. The leading causes of damage to goods in storage are high humidity and high and low temperatures. Certain items like paper products may be destroyed by high humidity. Furs should be stored in a cold environment, and it is desirable for most furniture to be stored in a 50-75 degree environment. High humidity can also cause wood to rot and metal to rust.

Humidity control
It is desirable that items sensitive to high humidity be stored in spaces with the humidity level set below 55RH (Relative Humidity). Mould and mildew growth are inhibited at 55RH. Mould and mildew grow on most surfaces and their spores become airborne. This enables them to spread easily if there is high humidity. If an old leather jacket has been stored for a time in an attic or basement it will smell musty and be covered in white spots. This is mildew. Many antibiotics are grown from mould. Foodstuffs, like bread, are often spoiled by moulds. Although moulds and mildew are not a threat to human health, there is a suspicion that certain moulds may cause asthma. Objects made of iron can rust in high humidity conditions and the higher the humidity the more rapid the corrosion.

Temperature control
You should opt for temperature controlled storage if your items need to be in cold conditions. Ideally, furs should be put in cold storage in the summer months to prevent the oil loss from excessive heat and humidity which causes the skin to harden. The result of this hardening is the shedding of fur. Furs are also liable to be extensively damaged by moths and insects, and as cold kills off bugs you should choose cold storage.

Humidity and Temperature control
If your items need humidity and temperature control, then this is the option you should use. Furs are usually very expensive and provide long years of wear if they are stored correctly to prevent degradation. Furs are usually stored in vaults that are both temperature and humidity controlled.

Traditional Storage
Traditional storage is in a space where neither the humidity nor the temperature are controlled. The space has the same levels of humidity and temperature as the rest of the warehouse. The warehouse is usually kept at a temperature a few degrees above the outside temperature in winter and a few degrees below the outside temperature in the summer. The humidity level depends on outside humidity levels.

Pest control
Even if you pay extra for climate controlled storage, there is still the possibility that your goods may be destroyed or damaged by pests such as mice, rats or insects, which are not controlled by environmental temperature and humidity levels. This is why you are advised to make a thorough check of the warehouse, and operators understand that potential customers need to be informed about their pest control program. It is useful if you can be shown a documented program showing the location of bait boxes inside and outside the facility. Frequency checks of bait boxes including those for insects should be detailed. The potential customer should look at a map of the facility showing where the bait boxes are located and needs to know what corrective action is taken if there are findings. Take note that the grounds of the facility should be neat and clear of overgrown vegetation as this attracts vermin. There should be no vegetation at all against the perimeter walls, and the perimeter should be graveled or cemented about eighteen inches out from the building. Ask the facility operator what action is taken if something is found in the bait boxes inside and outside the building. If he doesn’t take corrective action do not use this warehouse. An effective pest control program depends on follow up and corrective action as soon as an issue is noted.

Ask if the inside of the building is sprayed regularly against insects. If an infestation occurs in any area an investigation must be undertaken to clarify how the insects are gaining access to the building and how they are able to multiply. Electrical zapper units to kill off insects are set up inside most warehouse buildings.

Light attracts insects, so all the outside lighting should not be directed at entrances and exits. When clothing including furs are stored, it is of the utmost importance that the space is sprayed regularly to prevent insect infestation. Insects are the single most destructive force in destroying clothing. Most insects will die in cold environments and this is why it is advisable to store your fur in a cold vault in the summer.

If you don’t want to attract vermin to your stored goods, be sure that you never put foodstuffs in the storage space. Vermin have an excellent sense of smell and they will burrow their way through surrounding goods to reach the food. Food warehouses are able to store food items because they have specialized pest control programs, with a strong focus on preventing vermin or insects getting into the warehouse.