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Caravan Storage – How to prepare

Purchasing a caravan is a great investment and fun for the whole family to jump in for a little getaway. However, failing to prepare for caravan storage during the off season can lead to costly damage. We have previously looked at vehicle and caravan storage options while it is not in use. Now lets look at how to prepare your caravan for storage and the steps you should take to protect it.

Clean Inside the Caravan

Empty the contents for caravan storage

Empty all personal and food items from the caravan. Closely check all of the cupboards, drawers, under furniture and beds to ensure you have completely emptied the caravan. Remove used tea towels, bed sheets and towels to wash so they are clean and fresh for next time. Store expensive items like a TV, laptop or other appliances in a locked cupboard, or alternatively take them out. This will prevent your caravan from being a target for break ins whilst in self storage. Remove any food items in the cupboards that may leave mouldy smells or attract unwanted pests. Make a list of everything you have removed or need to replace to ensure you don’t forget anything on your next trip.

Scrub and vacuum interior for caravan storage

Thoroughly clean inside your caravan from top to bottom prior to putting it in self storage. Scrub and wipe down any surfaces and empty cupboards. Vacuum the carpets, couches and any corners to eliminate dust build up and traces of food. Food will attract rodents and pests which can cause damage to your caravan. Cleaning the interior of your caravan will ensure that it stays in great condition whilst in caravan storage and is always ready to go for the next trip.

Clean the fridge and freezer

Defrost the fridge and freezer and empty the contents from both. Give them a good clean to ensure they don’t smell of last nights dinner. Ensure the interior is dry after cleaning and leave both the fridge and the freezer doors ajar to avoid any mould build up. Additionally, place a box of baking soda or dry sac in the fridge to draw out excess moisture.

Close windows, vents and blinds

Protect your caravan from letting any unwanted weather in. Just like water damage, direct sunlight can damage the interior of your caravan during storage. So it’s just as important to close blinds as it is to make sure all windows are closed and locked. To prevent mould forming from excess moisture make sure all caravan awnings are dry and rolled up tightly. This is also a great opportunity to check your caravans seals to ensure that they are 100% weather proof, especially when it comes to washing the outside of your caravan.

Clean the Outside of your Caravan

Clean and dry exterior

Time to give the outside some TCL. Invest in a soft-bristle brush attached to a long broom handle so it is easy to reach the high and awkward spots. Clean the outside of the caravan with your preferred washing solution. Retreat Caravans say that using dish soap can strip the paint of wax and protective coatings, leaving it vulnerable to scratching and sun damage. For best results wash your caravan with a car washing detergent. Use a small step ladder to get access to the roof of your caravan to get any tough spots like dried bird droppings. Simply rinse off with a hose or bucket. High pressure cleaners may cause damage to the paint work. 

Cover your caravan

The minimum step you should take to protect your caravan whilst in outdoor storage is to invest in a caravan cover. This will not only make sure the exterior is protected from the weather but it will also keep your caravan looking good for longer. Again, make sure your caravan is completely dry before covering to prevent moisture build up. Also, ensure the cover is breathable, this too helps prevent condensation.

Keep air circulating

Leave air vents in your caravan uncovered so air can circulate inside the caravan. This will ensure your caravan is not stuffy and stale when you take it out again. Circulation of air will filter your air or clean the air. It will also help diffuse or spread any pollutants added to the air, like any food smells.

Mechanical Checks Before Storing your Caravan

Disconnect the battery

Caravans have batteries to power the appliances when your caravan is not plugged into an electrical source. Having your battery disconnected whilst in storage will save your electrical items from draining the battery whilst it is not being used. The last thing you need is to get to your destination and find out the fridge or lights are not working because the battery has been drained.

Only disconnect the battery once it has been fully charged. Never leave it fully drained. It is also important that your check the battery every couple of months whilst it is in storage. This will ensure the battery does not drain. A fully charged battery can prevent deterioration and will ensure your house on wheels is ready when you are.

Check the tyres before and after caravan storage

A quick trip to the service station to check your tyre pressure before storing. This will save you time in the long run. Depending on how long your caravan will be sitting in storage, it is a good idea to pump the tyres to the optimum pressure. Your tyres will naturally lose pressure while it’s in caravan storage. Alternatively, if you know your caravan will be in storage for an extended period of time, jack it up to take the pressure off the tyres. Cover the tyres to protect them from the elements and to avoid deterioration.

Grease trailer hitches

Trailer hitches will need to be lubricated before storage and again when you pick it up after being in caravan storage. Apart from the general wear and tear this will prevent, it will also eliminate the awful sound of metal scrapping on metal when you turn a corner and any friction this can cause. Once you have lubricated the hitch ball cover it. Now that your caravan is ready to be rested and stored after it’s big trip don’t forget to check on it every now and again. This will assist in picking up any issues well before your next caravan getaway.

New Secure Vehicle Storage Area… NOW OPEN!

Store UR Stuff has extended! We are excited to announce the development of our new vehicle storage area is now open. With 24 hour security monitoring and recorded surveillance. As well as security fencing, PIN coded access and security lighting, you can rest assured your caravan will be safe and secure. To find out how to protect your caravan from theft and break ins contact Store UR Stuff  and reserve your spot today.

Wine Storage

Most of us purchase a bottle of wine to enjoy right away but for those special wines that we want to cellar there are important rules for red and white wine storage to ensure your wines age well and increase in flavour and value.

Wine Storage Environment

Some winemakers have earned a reputation for creating wine worth aging, certain regions and certain type of wine age better than others, but the majority of wines on the market today are manufactured for immediate consumption and are not designed to age.

These wines are still of high quality and can be stored for 8 – 12 months or so without significant loss of quality as long as temperature, humidity and light of the area is considered. Though some wineries have earned a reputation for creating wine worth aging, additionally, certain regions and certain types of wine age better than others.

Temperature for Wine Storage

The ideal temperature to store wine is between 12-14°C. This temperature needs to remain constant all year round for optimal wine storage conditions. It is not recommended to store wine in the kitchen. This is one room in the house where the temperature can vary through out the day. That is when the oven or stove is on the temperature in the kitchen will heat up. If possible, the temperature should not fluctuate more than 2-3°C.

Heat can damage wine with wine show judge, Adam Walls, saying hot temperatures can cook the wine resulting in the wine losing its freshness. Heat can also compromise the seal of the wine which can lead to oxidation. Oxidation allows more air/oxygen into the wine. This can lead to wine evaporating leaving a low fill level and an oxidized flavor. Do not store wine in non insulated sheds or garages due to excessive fluctuations in temperatures. Avoid areas near heat sources such as heaters or electrical items that generate heat. Also high areas, such as on top of a cabinet, where hot air rises.

Wine Storage Humidity

Ideal wine storage conditions would maintain a 50% humidity level. That is humidity below about 50% is getting too dry and levels above 50% too damp. This maybe difficult to achieve. As long as the storage area has relative humidity levels ranging between 60-80% the wine should not spoil.

Dry conditions dry out the cork, causing it to shrink which can lead to oxidation. The majority of wine produced in Australia today are screw cap sealed. This alleviates the risk of the cork drying out. Wine storage areas that are too damp do not necessarily ruin the wine, it can lead to mold and mildew growing. This can ruin the storage area and wine labels.

Moreover, bottles with corks must be stored on their side. Screw caps can be stored in whichever way (standing up or lying down) suits you best.

Wine Storage in the dark

Do not store wine in direct sunlight. According to The Fine Wine Reserve although wine bottles are designed to protect the wine inside, UV light can break down the molecules that create the special flavors of a wine. This occurs more commonly in delicate white wines like Champagne, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Do not store wine on window sills or bench tops. If storing in wine racks ensure they are placed out of direct sunlight. Areas in the house such as under an internal staircase or the bottom shelf of a cupboard or pantry are better.

Wine Self Storage

Your average wine drinker need not be too concerned about climate controlled secure self storage areas for their wine collection if seeking short term storage options. Wine can be stored short term safely in a insulated storage facility. When moving home for example, wine can be stored in wine boxes and placed in your storage unit.

If storage is for an extended period of time, a climate controlled purpose built wine storage facility should be used. This is also the case for collectors and enthusiasts of wine storing and aging fine wines. These places ensure the temperature, humidity and light remain in the optimal range for your special collection.

What does Booze Brothers say about wine storage?

Booze Brothers Bottle Shops are filled with passionate wine enthusiasts and we asked them for some of their top tips on wine storage.

Booze Brothers Manager (at The Duck), Duane says “Wine should be checked and turned regularly. If possible, store red wine in a climate controlled environment like a cellar. Good reds can be stored for up to 10 years, if a wine reaches it’s optimum it will slowly decrease from it’s best potential so remember to drink at special occasions and enjoy the rewards of your cellaring.”

Want to learn more about wine and wine storage?

Hitsa Industry Training and Employment provide a short 2 day course, Provide advice on Australian wines. If you are working in the wine industry, hospitality or just enjoy wine as a personal hobby this course will further your knowledge on handling, storing and evaluating Australian wine products.

Inventory – keep track of your stuff in storage

A question that I get asked all the time at home is “Mum, have you seen…?” or “Where did you put…..” It drives me up the wall. Even though I have said more than numerous times to my husband and child to put things away when you have finished with them, it always comes back to me when the item goes missing.

That is why when it comes to people relocating items into storage – particularly long term – one piece of vital advise I give is if you are packing away items in a box, make a list of what is in the box and keep it handy. This goes the same for any item that is going into storage. Making an inventory list of all of your items – big and small – going into storage is an easy task to complete and may save you going around the twist finding something you know you have but don’t know where it is.

What’s the point?

Organisation is one of the main reasons people make an inventory of their items in storage. By knowing where everything is it will eliminate the need to spend hours looking for an item and more importantly it may even save you money so that you do not have to replace an item you think is lost.

The labels on your boxes are just as important as the inventory list created.

By making a list of your items as they are being prepared for storage means you can go through your stuff. For each item you are inventorying you should be thinking these 3 things: Throw it, Give it or Sell it and Pack it. Instead of picking up piles of things and popping them into a box, an inventory list makes you go through things item by item, giving you the opportunity to be as ruthless as possible.

More importantly, an inventory list of your stored items can protect you if there is ever any unforeseen circumstances such as fire, flood, break-ins and theft. If you ever needed to make an insurance claim against your items in storage an inventory of your items will be a blessing.  You will be able to make a claim for insurance quickly and accurately and it will also speed up the process for the insurance company.

How do you do an inventory?

An inventory list does not need to be fancy and it doesn’t matter how you do it as long as it is legible and understandable. At the end of the day, it will be usually you that will need to refer to it. It can be a handwritten list on a piece of paper, an excel spreadsheet or a digital photo gallery. Depending on how thorough and how much time you wish to spend on this you can either create a simple or detailed inventory list. A simplistic inventory should include a list of all the items and their general location.

It is always a good idea to have a little detail than pages of lists. Break the items into categories or by room and be as specific as you can. Don’t just write “bathroom stuff” on a box, write which bathroom it is from – master, family, guest – and the items. This will be a big help when you do move out of storage and it will assist you when you are unpacking.

For items going into boxes or containers adopt a colour coded system or a numbered system to sort your stored inventory. For example: Use green labels or #1 for items from the kitchen, red labels or #2 for items from the laundry etc. Make sure that either the coloured label or number on the box are visible when you stack your storage unit to make retrieval of your items a lot easier. If using the colour coded system, you may still need to number the boxes so each box or container has an itemized list instead of one long list that spreads over 4 green colour coded boxes.

There are even apps now that you can download to help make it even easier and they are free. Try Encircle: Home Inventory, My Inventory Manager, Belongings – Home Inventory, Items and Storage and Inventory or Home Inventory Photo Remote for your apple products or you can search http://appcrawlr.com/app/search/?q=home+inventory for other android devices.

Don’t get overwhelmed

People usually require storage during what is an already stressful time. Packing up a house is a daunting experience, there always seems to be more stuff than you can remember and it usually is a task that you think will not take long but usually takes a lot longer (well this has seemed to be the case with every move that I have had to make). One important lesson that I have learnt is to plan. A little time spent on planning can save you a lot of time in the end.

Break the task up into parts – take it room by room. This may make the huge job ahead not such an impossible one. If you don’t have time to itemise each box pre-label your boxes and have friends or kids if you have them to help.

Keep it safe

Once you have completed the inventory list, make sure you keep the list somewhere that is easily accessible and safe. You can keep a copy of the list in your storage unit, however it is best to keep it at home so you can refer to it when you need to. Keep a digital copy – weather you take a photo of the list, transfer it onto an excel spreadsheet or scan it – it is best to have more than one copy.

After going to all the time and effort in doing the list, the last thing you want to ask yourself is “Where did I put that inventory list?”

Tips for Storing Clothes Long Term

Self storage tips

Whilst on annual leave recently, I finally took the opportunity to sort through my sons stuff. I still had all of his baby clothes mixed in with the clothes he is currently in. I was going to pop them in a garbage bag or cardboard box and put them in the shed. However, after going into the shed I discovered that all of the cardboard boxes we had in the shed had been chewed to pieces by rats and mice! I really wanted to keep most of his baby clothes, just in case, so I researched the best way to store and protect clothes whilst they are in storage in the shed.

After scouring the internet I discovered that most of them advise the following 6 simple steps and measures you should take when storing clothes long term.

1. Wash your clothes before storing

Wash and iron your clothes before storing. Surfaces stains and dirt will set into the clothing overtime and when you do finally get them out of storage to use again the stain will be difficult to remove.  Dirty clothing can also attract vermin and insects which may also damage your clothing. Wash all items as per their washing instructions and any dry cleanable items should be dry cleaned prior to storing. Make sure the clothes are rinsed properly before drying and storing to ensure that all bleaches, chemicals and detergents are washed out.  This will not only make sure that your clothes are safe during storage, they will also be clean and ready to wear when you need them.

2. To vacuum seal or not to vacuum seal

There is a large range of vacuum seal bags out on the market, which are great space savers. There is a lot of speculation out there, however, that over a long period of time, storing your clothing in these bags could damage your clothes. The reasoning is that most natural fiber cloth needs air to maintain its structure and integrity and that by sucking all of the air out of the bag, you are compressing the garments and compressing the fibers. When removed from these bags, it takes a long time for the fibers to uncompress with one person with a PhD in Fiber and Polymer Science even suggesting that the item will take the same amount of time to uncompress to the amount of time it was in the space saver bag. I have used these bags in the past for seasonal clothing, thus the articles are only in the bag for a period of months and not years, and I have not had a problem. For any heirlooms, real expensive or sentimental items I would probably not run the risk.

3. Say no to plastic bags and cardboard boxes

Air tight plastic containers with a lid is the best thing to pack your clothes into. This will keep your clothes dry and stop the growth of mould and mildew, in most cases. If using plastic containers, ensure they are clean, dry and line them old (but clean) cotton sheets.  Avoid plastic bags as these can trap moisture and cause mildew to form or cause the yellowing of fabrics. Packing your clothing in a cardboard box will not protect them against vermin as rats and mice can easily chew through the cardboard. Again depending on the expense and sentimental value of the item, acid free boxes and tissue paper should be used especially for heirloom items as not all plastic boxes are safe as they release chemicals which could have subtle to grossly negative effects on the clothing.

4. Mothballs

Not only do mothballs leave your clothes smelling terrible, they are not 100% effective and can be potentially dangerous if found bye children or pets. A much more appealing alternative are the natural wooden cedar balls. They not only smell better, they are just as effective as moth balls and are even more effective if used in conjunction with all of the tips mentioned.  When using either moth balls or wooden camphor make sure that they not placed on the garments and are placed at the top of your storage container for further protection.

5. Clean, cool, dark and dry

The atmospheric conditions and environment you are storing your items in can cause damage if extreme. Ideally it is suggested that clothing should be stored in conditions that do not exceed 23°C with a relatively humidity of 55%. However, I would only follow this guide line if I was storing any heirlooms or expensive sentimental items. As long as the space is clean and protects the box the items are stored in from the elements they should be safe. For people like me that are storing items in their own personal space, just keep in mind that attics and garages can be home to fuels, grease and many other flammable items and may be damp and have vermin unlike a self storage facility.

6. Check and do not protect!

It is important to check on your items in storage, wherever and whatever you are storing. If you check your items once a year, you will minimize the risk of the items getting damaged and may save them before they do. This point is especially important to me as I forget everything and I will forget that I have even stored the clothing in the first place!

Discovering a hidden gem

moneyOften when people find out that you work in self-storage, they ask “Have you ever found a storage unit full of money and do you get to keep it?” My answer to that is “Wouldn’t that be nice”.

Thanks to reality TV shows such as Storage Wars and Storage Hunters a lot of people believe there are storage units out there actually housing wads of cold hard cash and hidden gems. This could be the case, however, unlikely. So if I did happen to come across a storage unit that had cash in it, who gets to keep it?

Firstly, how do you “find” a storage unit with money in it? The golden rule to self-storage is that the tenant supplies the lock to their unit and has the key therefore is the only person who can access their unit. The only way I would ever know what is in someone’s storage unit is if the unit was 43 days in arrears when an inventory would need to be completed to prepare for auction; if the tenant told me or by attending a storage auction myself.

The most likely scenario would be finding the cash when completing an inventory on a unit in arrears. If this was discovered, the first question you would be asking yourself would be “Why have they put it in storage and not in a bank?” To avoid taxes? – maybe, to hide illegal activity? – Probably, or they could not be bothered digging it up every time they need some? – Unlikely. And if the tenant was in arrears due to failing to pay their account, they are not going to risk storing cash in their unit.

Secondly, when entering into a storage agreement, all customers are signing to state that they will comply with the page of fine print on the reverse side of the agreement – the terms and conditions. Included in the fine print are all of the things that cannot be stored by a potential storer. Clause 10d of the Standard Self Storage terms and conditions states that a storer:

“must not store items which are irreplaceable, such as currency, jewellery, furs, deeds, paintings, curios, works of art and items of personal sentimental value;”

Even though important points of the agreement are verbally pointed out to tenants, it is impossible to go through every point in the fine print. Therefore it is up to the tenant to read this information. People rarely read what they are signing these days so someone could store money and not know that they were breaching any storage terms and conditions.

Who gets it?

I would not be human if I did not say it would be tempting to keep it. However, personally, the consequences and risks are too high.  If you put it in the bank it would not take Mr. Taxman long to track you down and obtain his share in the funds. If you spend it, people may get suspicious as to how you all of the sudden have the disposable income. Not forgetting money laundering suspicions or the risk of getting yourself unwillingly involved in some crime ring.

So if I ever discovered that hidden gem in a storage unit, I would report it to the police. Who knows, you may have just contributed to solving an ongoing investigation and may get a reward for your efforts. As nice as it would be to open someone’s storage unit to discover a small fortune, the reality is you probably will never ever come across such a unit. When I do, I will let you know!