9 Items You Should Never Keep in a Self-Storage Unit

Many people see self-storage units as a place where they can safely keep nearly any item for which they don’t currently have room. Unfortunately, however, this assumption is far from the truth. For one, you need to consider whether or not your items could be damaged in the often extreme temperature conditions of a self-storage unit, which usually do not have heating and air conditioning. Most are also poorly ventilated, if ventilated at all, making them even more susceptible to extreme heat. On especially hot days, the conditions of your storage unit could become much like those in an enclosed car on a hot day. The air heats up, but has nowhere to go, meaning outside temperatures of 70 degrees could bring the inside of the unit up to temperatures in the triple digits. Unless you’re willing to pay around 20 percent more for a special temperature-controlled or climate controlled unit, this could put many sensitive items that you may be considering putting into storage at risk. Another factor to consider is that storage units are often highly visible targets for crime. Most do not have overnight managers and have nothing more protecting your belongings than a lock, making break-ins at storage units quite common. Before putting your property in a storage unit, you need to ask yourself if it’s an item that you’d be able to replace if stolen. 

To make things easier for you when considering where to store your items, we’ve compiled a list of nine things that should never be kept in a regular self-storage unit. 

1. Family Heirlooms

Items with great sentimental value that cannot be replaced should never be kept in a traditional self-storage unit. If you can never get the items back if stolen, it’s just not worth keeping in a high-risk environment like a storage unit. 

Additionally, rings and other metal jewelry can be impacted by the extreme temperatures and may start to corrode if left in a standard storage unit. 

2. Electronics

Similarly, the metal that is in our electronics, including computers, televisions and cameras may start to corrode if left in a storage item. If you want to make sure that these items still work when you retrieve them from storage, especially if you plan on keeping them there for a long, look for options outside of a regular  storage unit.  

3. Art

Like family heirlooms, art is something that you don’t want to keep in a traditional storage unit both because of the risk of extreme temperatures and because of the risk of theft. 

Art is best kept in temperatures that range from 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise the artwork might shrink or expand, damaging the image. Additionally, valuable art could be a prime target for thieves. 

4. Photographs

If you leave any delicate paper item in extreme temperatures it will start to turn yellow. Keeping your photos in a traditional storage unit could mean putting some of your most cherished memories at risk. 

5. Sensitive or Private Information

As targets for crime, storage units should never be considered a safe place to keep documents, hard drives or any documents that contain personal information about you or anyone else. 

Last month, for example, Associated Press reported that Washington State University was hit with a negligence lawsuit after a hard drive that contained about 1.2 million people’s names, social security numbers and health records was stolen from the its self-storage unit. 

"It's a joke," David Minnery, one of the individuals whose information was put at risk, told Associated Press. "You put a little Master Lock on those things. You’re storing household goods you don't have room for in your garage. It's not where you store our personal information.” 

6. Instruments

Instruments, especially those made of wood, are extremely sensitive to temperature changes. The expansion or shrinkage of wood that could occur in temperatures too hot or too cold could even cause a whole section of your instrument to break off.  

7. Antique Furniture

Like wood instruments, antique furniture that contains wood might expand or shrink in high or low temperatures. This could cause some serious wear and tear on your already delicate chairs or tables — and may even cause them to fall apart. 

8. Leather

Like art, leather can shrink or expand when left in extreme temperatures. Make sure to leave your leather jackets or furniture out of standard storage units. 

9. Vinyl Records

There’s a reason that vinyl collectors tend to be profoundly protective of their records. Vinyl is extremely sensitive, and large temperature changes can cause it to warp. This means that the quality of the sound could be compromised or it might even become impossible to play the record.  If this seems like a lot of items to you, you’re not wrong. Many belongings simply aren’t suited to the harsh environment of a self-storage unit. Fortunately, alternatives exist. 

Sharespace allows you to rent space to keep your belongings in someone’s home, rather than in a self-storage unit — meaning your items won’t be exposed to any conditions that your host wouldn’t want to be exposed to. With Sharespace, your belongings will be kept in areas with better ventilation than offered in many storage units. You’ll also sometimes have access to air conditioning and heating options. Kept in a neighborhood rather than a warehouse, your belongings will also be less of a target for crime. So when choosing where to store your belongings, make sure you’re considering all the facts about where your items will be safest.