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How To Prepare Furniture For Storage

How to prepare furniture for storage especially for long term storage.

Preparing furniture for storage is critical. Furniture is expensive. Not preparing it properly before storing, will ruin the furniture. Who has the extra money to replace ruined furniture. There are several things that can be done to prevent damage. As with anything going into storage, furniture takes a little prep work. Firstly, knowing what types of materials the furniture is made from is important. Next, what types of cleaners work best on the material. Then the proper way to clean it. Lastly, once it is cleaned and dried what final steps can be taken to protect the furniture going into self-storage. Therefore, preparing furniture for storage will help save your investment.  

Materials: 

Furniture comes in many styles and materials. First it is important to know what type of material before cleaning. For example, wood requires a few steps, but plastic or plastic resin furniture is a wash and dry method.  

Wood requires cleaning and polishing to be prepared for storage.

Wood furniture should be dusted first with a damp cloth. Next, wash with a mild solution of soap and water. Murphy’s oil soap is a great cleaner for all types of wood. Then allow to thoroughly air dry. Lastly, oil or polish furniture. Cleaning ensures that no contaminants like food or mold and mildew follow your furniture into storage where unchecked they can damage wood.  

Resin or plastic furniture should be dusted first. The best method is with a vacuum cleaner and the soft bristled brush attachment. Especially as most resin furniture is textured. Next mix a solution of mild detergent and water. Hose down the furniture and then wash with the solution. Then rinse thoroughly and allow to completely air dry. If the hose option is not feasible, hand wash the furniture. Then use a sponge and clear water to rinse. Be sure to rinse sponge several times to remove all the detergent.  

Metal furniture is easy. Inspect for rust and remove as this will continue to oxidize during storage. Next, wash with a mild non-detergent soap, rinse, and completely dry before storage. If the rust removal took place, repaint the damaged area to further protect the metal.  

Leather furniture should be stored in climate controlled; leather is extremely porous and will succumb to moisture and heat. If climate controlled is not available be sure to use a good leather cleaner and follow with a great conditioner. Accessing the storage unit a few times a month will allow fresh air to circulate through the unit helping keep the unit dryer.  

Cushions or Fabrics: 

Cushions come in two kinds, removable covers and non removeable. If the cover is removable, remove it and wash in the washing machine. Then prepare a solution of mild soap and water in a bucket. Wash the inserts and rinse thoroughly squeezing as much water as possible from them. Allow them to air dry. It is particularly important to allow them to dry completely. They will mildew in storage if not completely dry.  

Non removable covers take a little extra work. Sometimes the best option is to use an upholstery cleaner, for the fabrics that can be cleaned with one. If after the patch test the material shows it should not be cleaned with an upholstery cleaner, it will require hand washing. A patch test is recommended if the material has never been cleaned before with an upholstery cleaner. The patch test consists of testing a small area first to see if it damages the material.  

preparing furniture for storage may require upholstery cleaning.

If a patch test shows you cannot use upholstery cleaner follow these steps to clean the cushions. First, brush any crumbs, dirt, or loose material from the cushion. Next, mix a solution of mild soap and warm water. Then wet the cushion and brush gently with a soft bristled brush to remove any stains or grime. Once the exterior of the cushion is cleaned, gently submerge the cushion in the solution and squeeze. Remove from the water and rinse in clean water until there is no more soap in the cushion. Finally, allow to air dry until the cushion is thoroughly dry.  

For best storage of cushions, wrap in plastic or if they are too large then place them together and cover them with a tarp, sheet, or other covering to protect them from dust.  

Glass Tops: 

Glass comes with its own cleaning requirements. Use cotton gloves to avoid greasy fingerprints. Grease can cause mold and mildew when being stored. Clean the glass and remove it from the base if possible. Wrap the glass in a protective layer. You can use bubble wrap, furniture pads or blankets. If the top is round, use cardboard to create a box for the wrapped top. This will help prevent rolling and add an extra layer of protection.  

How to prepare furniture for storage would not be complete without talking about glass topped furniture.
Storage Hints: 

Now that the furniture is clean and thoroughly dry. Let us look at how to prepare the furniture for self-storage. First, is the furniture easy to disassemble? If it can come apart take it apart! This step will save space in storage. For example, a table taken apart will require less space to store than if it was fully assembled. Next be sure to secure all hardware to assemble the furniture in a zip lock bag and tape to the backside of the furniture. When it comes time to assemble the furniture after storage everything you need will be with the furniture.  

Next, if the furniture has drawers, such as a bureau, take them out. Moving the furniture will be easier. Once it is in storage put the drawers back. Do not forget to use that extra space for storage! This will provide an extra layer of protection for fragile items. To utilize this space, wrap fragile items in bubble wrap and pack into the drawer, then close the drawer. Any added layer of protection for fragile items is a bonus! 

Lastly, for items such as couches, cover the couch with a sheet, or other covering. This will help keep the couch from getting dusty. Also, it is best to add a dryer sheet or two to help keep the couch smelling fresh. When the items come out of storage allowing them to spend a little time in the fresh air and sunshine will assist in freshening them up.  

Added protection: 

During the moving process damage can occur to furniture. Things like scraps to the finish, a leg can break off, or any number of things can happen. One of the best ways to prevent damage is to use furniture blankets. These handy blankets will protect finishes and can be used as covers in storage to prevent scratches and dust.

preparing furniture for storage may require furniture pads or blankets.

Another moving must, especially for sizable items is the furniture dolly. These come in several sizes and styles to assist in moving furniture safely. One is a two-wheel dolly. These are great for moving midsized items. 

Next are little four-wheeled dollies. These can be used individually or in combinations based on the size of the furniture. They make moving bulkier pieces a breeze. Therefore, If the item is an oversized piece, consider renting a furniture dolly to assist with moving. 

flip flops are not recommended but the 4-wheel dolly is an invaluable tool in moving large pieces of furniture.

If the furniture has any value, go with a climate control unit. The units are controlled to prevent excessive temperature changes which can damage wood, leather, and other materials. When the furniture is less than valuable and will be stored for a brief period, an outside drive up or traditional storage unit will work. As always, make sure the items in self-storage are covered with a homeowners or renters insurance policy. If not, purchase it at the self-storage location.

In other words, everything done to prepare furniture for storage is a step towards protecting your investment. A little prep work and insurance goes a long way towards making sure the money spent on furniture is not wasted.  

How to Store Photographs

From Antique photos to modern digital images how to store photographs properly is important.

How to store photographs correctly is an important question. It is particularly important when trying to keep old family photos in decent shape. In today’s digital world the storage needs for images is vastly different from those of a traditional photo. Take the first images created in the early 1800’s. These images were on a polished silver or glass sheet. Therefore, they have unique needs, different than a modern photograph. Despite their differences most photographs have similar handling and storage needs. Also, there are three very damaging conditions for photo images. Avoid these conditions when storing photos of any kind. The conditions are direct sunlight, moisture, and extreme temperature changes. These all will cause damage to your stored photographs. How to store photos correctly depends on the type of photo it is.  

First, let us look at how to safely handle a photograph. When handling photographs of any type be sure to have clean dry hands. Do not touch the image. Use cotton, lint free gloves for the best protection. It is best to handle photos by their edges. Particularly because the natural oils in our fingertips will break down the photograph over time. Likewise, keep food, drinks, and children away from the images.  

Next, there are some general things you can do to protect an image. For example, use a number 2 pencil to write information on a photograph. Markers and ink pens will bleed through the image over time. Also, the chemicals in the ink will damage the image. Number 2 pencils are graphite and will not bleed though to the image and will last forever. Then protect the image in an acid free sleeve and store where the temperature and humidity are controlled. Climate Controlled Self Storage is an ideal solution for photograph storage.  

Types of Antique Photos and How to Store Them: 

Daguerreotype (/dəˈɡerəˌtīp/) 

From 1840 until 1860, these photos were popular. The mirror-like image is on a polished silver sheet. These photos are small, typically 2.75 inches by 3.5 inches, with a protective case. They are fragile and should not be exposed to direct sunlight. Direct sunlight and extreme temperatures will cause damage. Therefore, climate-controlled storage is best for these photos.  

Daguerrotype Photograph are on delicate silver polished sheets.

Ambrotype (ăm′brō-tīp′) 

From 1855 until 1865, brought the popularity of the Ambrotype photograph. The image is created on a glass sheet instead of the polished silver sheet. The other difference is that they do not have the mirror-like reflection. Plus, they are kept in a hinged case. Climate controlled storage is recommended because these images are fragile.  

Ambrotype were on glass sheets and in a small hinged case for protection.

Tintypes (ˈtintīp) 

1855 until the 1900’s, tintypes were popular. They were on iron plates instead of glass or polished silver sheets. Tintypes were durable which is why they were popular for over 30 years. The tintype started out with hinged cases but soon were kept in paper sleeves or envelopes. They had delicate surfaces that could scratch easily.  

Cartes des Visites (kärt də vēˈzēt) 

From 1859 through 1870, Cartes des Visites was in demand. Cartes des Visites are albumen printed and mounted on thick paper. Albumen printing is egg white and silver nitrate spread on a paper. This forms a light sensitive layer. A glass negative is put on the paper and light is cast over the image. These were popular during the Civil War. 

Cabinet Cards 

From 1860 through the early 1920’s, cabinet cards were the photograph of choice. They were larger than the Cartes des Visites. Although, the images were created the same way, stiffer cards were used. This allowed the photographer’s information and advertising to be applied to the back.  

In 1900, Kodak introduced the first camera to be sold to the public. This changed photography, it became a popular hobby for many. With this change came another challenge on to how to store photographs properly. 

How to Store Modern Photographs  

After the introduction of the Brownie Camera photography equipment and technology changed quickly. One thing that has not changed is the process to protect them. All the rules above still apply today to any printed photograph. With the introduction of photo albums and scrapbooks came a new threat to photos. Many of the papers or sleeves used were not archival safe. The glue in the photo corners used to secure photos to the paper caused damage. Over time better acid-free paper and photo safe glues were developed. Therefore, when shopping for an album or scrapbook check that it is acid-free. Protecting photos before storage is as important as when they are being stored.  

First let us look at storage solutions. Today there are a lot of storage containers for photos. Acid-free boxes, plastic totes, photo albums, and scrapbooks to name a few. As mentioned above, be sure to check that all options are archival safe. The last thing anyone wants is to accidentally ruin photos in storage because the wrong method was chosen.  

Next, is the proper way to store pictures in their box. Standing the photo up protects the image. Stacking the images one on top of the other causes warping and the images to stick together. Standing keeps them safe from warping over time. If the box cannot be filled so everything is standing, use a filler to keep them on their edge. If you must stack the images, only stack a few on top of each other. Always keep the negatives with the photos if one becomes damaged it can easily be replaced. Hint: using an acid-free index card as a divider helps keep the images organized and protects them from sticking together.  

Last, knowing light, moisture, and temperature all cause damage over time, choosing the best location is important. The attic is not a good place due to the wild temperature changes that happen. Likewise, the basement will have moisture issues. A closet inside the house will work but the best option is climate-controlled storage. Climate-controlled storage is kept within the correct temperature and humidity range. In other words, to protect your photos choose climate-controlled storage.  

The invention of the Brownie Camera changed photography. It was nearly 80 years before another big change evolved.

How to store instant/polaroid images. 

As photography advanced along came the instant photo. It was wildly popular because you had your image instantly or within a few minutes. The film came coated with the chemicals needed to process the image. This presented a different problem because the chemicals could dry out over time. It was recommended to refrigerate the film to slow down or prevent this from happening. Freezing the film did not extend the life of the film instead it caused the chemicals to crack inside the film. Once the picture was taken it slowly developed. The colder the film was when the photo was taken, the better the quality of the picture was after it developed. The cold film slowed down the chemical process.  

Correct storage of these instant images was important to maintaining them. It soon became apparent that light and heat where the biggest dangers. Heat and sunlight caused the images to warp and change color. If left exposed to these conditions long enough the image would disappear from the photo. Therefore, the ideal storage is in an album or upright in a box protected from light and heat. A dark closet or a climate-controlled storage unit are the best options for storing instant photos. 

How to Store Digital Photography 

In 1990 an innovative technology joined the photography family. Digital photography debuted and took the world by storm. Within ten short years it was on every cell phone. This put a camera in the hands of 7.26 billion people worldwide today. With the development of digital images, no longer did you have to wait for the film to be developed. The image was available instantly. It did not cost anything to develop it nor to share it. They could easily be manipulated with photo editing software to create stunning images.  

This overabundance of images held its own issue. How do you store so many images safely? First, each device has a storage card. It was easy to download the images onto a computer for safe storage. But was it truly safe? Computers can die and with it all your important photos. As a result, hard drives separate from the computer were developed. Now you could download all the thousands of photos onto an external hard drive and keep them safe.  

Next, there are many thoughts on the proper storage of digital images. One such rule is to keep the original SD card from the camera or phone. Use the little tab on the side to lock the card so it cannot be overwritten. This can be expensive if you take hundreds of pictures a day. Therefore, the next rule might work best for you.  

Second method is to download the images onto a computer. Organize them, then copy them onto the external hard drive. This method works best if you take many pictures every day. The thought is if you lose the SD card, the image is on your computer. If the computer dies the image is safe on your external hard drive.  

Lastly, if every image is not a keepsake for you, choose the best image or images of the day. Then delete the others. Have the best image printed or developed. Then download the images onto your external hard drive. Display your best or store them with the external hard drive. This brings up a good question, where is the best place to store an external hard drive? 

External hard drives have a few enemies. The number one is static with moisture being a close second. Store external hard drives in an anti-static storage bag. Once in the bag they can be stored anywhere. The only exception is if you are storing an original with the hard drive if so, choose an appropriate location for the safety of your original. 

Digital photography can be altered and enhanced or it can be raw and natural.
Summary 

As seen photography has been popular for hundreds of years. Therefore, preserving the images across the ages is important. Keeping all forms of photography safe is important for having images to show to future generations. The best option is climate-controlled storage to preserve the past for future generations.  

Storing Electronics

Electronic devices are more sophisticated today in refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers plus many more everyday items.
Storing Electronics~ electronics include a vast array of everyday items now.

Storing electronics has its own challenges. Electronics covers a broad range of items; each type require their own storage needs. At one time electronics was a small selection of items like televisions, radios, and computers. Today there are electronic components in most of the items we use on a regular basis. Now it includes refrigerators, coffee pots, washers, dryers, air fryers, game systems as well as the traditional items. Therefore, it is best to store electronics according to manufactures recommendations. What if the original paperwork is missing or gone. There is some general guidance that can keep expensive electronics safe during storage. 

Prepare For Storage 

Firstly, if it has data and can be backed up, do it. Nothing is worse than storing a drive or gaming system and something happens during storage that wipes out the saved games, data, or digital photos. In other words, the best practice before storing electronics is to back them up if possible.  

Secondly, before storing electronics they should be cleaned. Use a can of compressed air known as “canned air” and blow the dust and dirt from all electronic components. This may require removing the cover to access cooling fans and circuit boards. If not comfortable removing the cover take to a local technician who can clean it before storage. Next wipe down all screens with an antistatic cleaner. This will prevent dust from sticking to the screen while in storage. 

Next, remove all cords, wipe them down to clean. Label and store the cords either in a separate tote or use a Ziplock bag and keep them with the electronic equipment it goes to. Use the method that works best for you.  

Lastly, when storing electronics protect them. During transport and moving into the storage area is when the biggest risk of damage can occur. Bubble wrap  provides an extra layer of protection. Cover all vents or access points to prevent dust from invading the equipment. If the original packaging is available this would be the best way to protect the electronics during storage. Keeping electronics protected should be the top priority.  

Choosing Correct Storage 

To store electronic equipment properly a few simple questions will decide the correct storage choice. What is the climate like? What time of year is it being stored? How long will it be stored? These are all important questions to ask before deciding where to store electronics.  

Firstly, is it hot and humid where the electronics will be stored. If the answer is yes, only store electronics in climate-controlled storage. Moisture is bad for electronic equipment. It will cause corrosion, rust, short-circuiting when the device is used again. Humidity can cause an array of malfunctioning on electronic parts. Therefore, if storing electronics in humid climates only use climate control storage.  

Next, what if the climate is cold or storage will be over freezing winter months? Most electronics are better off stored in cool, dry environments. The only exception to this general rule is if there is a chance of freezing. Do not store where freezing may occur. Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) have the greatest risk of freezing which causes irreversible damage. LCD are commonly used for flat screen televisions, computer monitors, digital cameras, and camcorders, plus an array of handheld video game systems. Other places LCDs are used is for video projection equipment and electronic billboards. Chances are the screen on the refrigerator, stove, clock, or DVD player are all LCD. Protecting these expensive items when in storage is important. In other words, do not store any LCD devices where there is a chance of freezing.  

Lastly, how long will the electronic equipment be in storage? If it will be in storage for a long time only consider climate-controlled storage. The longer it is exposed to big temperature swings, the greater the chance for damage. As mentioned, moisture and dust are the most damaging to electronic equipment in storage. Hence the need for a climate-controlled storage unit. The unit will be regulated so no big temperature fluctuations will happen. In climate-controlled storage if will not have a chance to freeze protecting all the LCD items.  

If stored improperly 

What to do if electronics are stored improperly. First, allow the equipment to warm up to room temperature over a few days’ time. This will allow all the moisture that will condense on the circuits to evaporate. Next, inspect the equipment for any visible signs of damage before using. Then use canned air to remove any debris and dust from the equipment. Afterwards, clean the unit to prevent mold and mildew from growing in the warmer temperatures. Lastly, plug in and watch for any malfunctions before putting back into use. Monitor for the next several days for any changes in functionality. If it malfunctions unplug and replace before it becomes a fire hazard. In other words, use caution when using electronics that have been stored improperly.  

To summarize, storing electronics properly requires a little knowledge about the environment in which it is being stored, plus some simple maintenance to prevent damage. When we know that dust, moisture, and temperature play a vital role in keeping electronics safe, storing properly becomes a necessity. Protect your electronic investment with proper storage. 

What is Humidity Controlled Self Storage in Bangor, Maine?

Is Humidity Control an important consideration for climate controlled self storage? 

What is humidity control?

Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air. It can’t be seen with the naked eye but it exists in the form of vapor. The amount of water vapor the air contains determines the humidity level. When the levels of moisture in the air are too high or too low damage can occur to your property in self storage. Humidity control is an important consideration for many reasons when looking for a climate controlled self storage unit in Bangor Maine. Each end of the spectrum of humidity has its own special risk. 

Not enough moisture and your wooden items like furniture and musical instruments can dry, split and craze. Crazing is a network of fine cracks either on the wood or in the finish which can ruin musical instruments or wooden furniture.This same dry air can damage leather goods, like jackets, pants, wallets, handbags and sports equipment. Leather is extremely porous therefore, the amount of moisture in the air plays a huge role in the pliability and integrity of leather. Too dry and your leather will crack. Static electricity becomes an issue with low humidity levels increasing the risk of damage to sensitive electronic devices. The correct amount of moisture or humidity in the air will help prevent any damage to your stored property. 

Too much moisture and artwork, important documents and photographs are at risk of damage or total destruction. Keeping the moisture in the optimum range provides ample protection for paper products. With high humidity comes the risk of mold and mildew. Maintaining the correct range of humidity prevents the growth of damaging mold, mildew and bacteria. Humidity control is an important factor for the safety of your valuables. When choosing a climate controlled unit be sure they have humidity control measures in place.

What are good humidity control measures in climate control?

The best and most consistent methods have several factors involved to control humidity. First is the type and amount of insulation the building incorporates into their facility. Spray foam will control humidity and condensation, will not rot or deteriorate plus it does not attract mold. Additionally high density insulation in the roof will counter the effects of extreme cold and heat fluctuation which assist in maintaining humidity levels. Therefore there is a big reduction in moisture and heat loss in buildings using this dual insulation method.  Coupling the superior insulation with a high efficiency VRF heat pump system and humidity control becomes more consistent. VRF is a “Variable Refrigerant Flow” system, which is considered to be state of the art in low energy heat pump units. VRF systems are reliable, quiet and highly efficient. A good humidity control system will maintain the moisture in the optimal range.

What is a good humidity rate or range?

Most house hygrometers, a device used to measure humidity or moisture content in a home, have the safe range from 30% to 60%. This is considered the comfort zone. Within this range there is an optimum range from 45% – 55%. In this range the air contains enough moisture to prevent drying of your stored items and not too much moisture that it produces mildew. Therefore, when looking for a humidity controlled self storage unit ideally the range they maintain should fall between 35 and 50 percent. This range will protect your wooden items, leather goods, valuable wool rugs, artwork, important documents and photographs from the damage caused by unchecked humidity changes.

Typical House Hygrometer

A simple hygrometer like this one pictured can be purchased easily online or locally. It’s a great tool for measuring the humidity in your home! Humidity is as important in your home as it is for your self storage unit. Keep your possessions safe from the damages of unchecked humidity!

Do I need Climate Controlled Self Storage in Ellsworth Maine?

What is climate control storage and do I really need it for my possessions?

This is the most asked question when considering self storage in Ellsworth, Maine and the surrounding areas. Climate control is when the external temperature and humidity are no longer part of the equation for possible damage to your valuables. The humidity level is kept in the optimal range of 35 to 50% to prevent damage from excessive moisture or drying from too little moisture which can be devastating to wood and leather. The temperature is kept within a range relative to the outside temperature to prevent drastic temperature fluxuations. Condensation and moisture caused by this drastic change can wreak havoc on stored items. 

When considering climate control ask yourself a few questions to determine if climate control is needed for your possessions. Use the chart below to help.

QuestionIf the answer is yes… recommendationIf the answer is No… Recommendation
Will it freeze?Climate Control StorageDrive Up Storage
Is it replaceable?Drive Up StorageClimate Control Storage
Will it be stored for longer than 6 months?Climate Control would be best esp in extreme temp fluctuation conditionsDrive up is ok for short periods 
Is it an heirloom?Climate Control StorageDrive Up Storage
Will moisture of any kind ruin it?Climate Control StorageDrive Up Storage
Will the temperature have drastic changes during storage time?Climate Control StorageDrive Up Storage

What items should always be stored in climate control to protect them?

The following list contains items highly recommended for climate control:

  • Photographs ~ moisture will destroy photographs or cause them to stick together
  • Artwork including refrigerator art ~ canvas, paper and wood should all be stored in climate control
  • Heirlooms ~ keepsakes and valuable heirlooms will succumb to moisture ruining them
  • Electronics ~ check manufacturers recommendations for storage
  • Antiques ~ moisture and dryness are both enemies of antiques
  • Leather goods ~ from jackets, to furniture and sports related items if it’s leather extreme heat and/or dry air will ruin them.
  • Musical instruments ~ the delicate nature of instruments require the humidity controlled environment of climate control
  • Important papers or documents ~ moisture is the bane of paper, it can cause destruction beyond repair in a short period of time. 
  • Sports Equipment ~ especially leather in nature
  • Medical supplies ~ most medical supplies can freeze causing them to become useless 
  • Makeup and toiletries ~ lots of makeup items will freeze ruining them or moisture will destroy their usefulness.
  • Art supplies and paint 
  • In colder climates washers and refrigerators with ice makers any water left in the lines or pump will freeze and burst causing them to leak.

In conclusion, climate control is your best option for long term storage to help prevent damage caused by extreme temperature changes and humidity levels. If your storage needs are for a short period of time drive up or conventional storage will suffice. If you have any questions ask the facility manager for their recommendations. 

PRO TIP: If you opt for outside, drive up storage, stop by your unit every few weeks during the Fall and Spring months when temperature changes are the most drastic and open the door for 5 to 10 minutes allowing the air to circulate and help reduce the possibility of condensation in your unit.