Will my stuff survive three months in an outdoor storage cube in BC?
September 15, 2020 3:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm moving to Vancouver, BC, at the end of this month. I'll be moving most of my stuff in a UPack ReloCube, which will be placed in storage until I find long-term housing and get it delivered, which I'm guessing might take something like three months give or take. It turns out the cubes are stored outdoors, not in an indoor climate-controlled facility as I'd assumed. Vancouver is rainy. The cubes are supposedly weatherproof, but what with humidity and temperature changes, I'm worried about my stuff, especially my books. How best to pack to prevent damage? Or is this just a bad idea?

I'm not sending any expensive furniture, but the cube will contain 20 boxes of books, plus clothes, a stereo system, a CD collection, and one or two saxophones. The cubes are metal and supposedly rainproof; I've read lots of reviews online and none mention rain leaking in, so I'm less worried about that and more about humidity, mold, pests etc. I won't have access to the cube while it's in storage, so it'll be a Schrodinger's cat moment when I finally open it.

How likely is damage to the books and other stuff under such conditions? How should I pack to minimize this? I have silica gel dessicant and cedar balls which I plan to use generously, and I'll place a box spring on the floor of the cube to lift everything away from the ground. Other tips?

Or is the risk too great and I should look for alternatives? One option would be to pay for climate-controlled storage in Vancouver, get the cube delivered there and unload it right away. Another would be to ship some of the more important stuff separately. This would all mean more expense and hassle, so I'd much rather avoid it, but of course so would losing my stuff to mold, mice or water damage.
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
I'd be more worried about the saxophones than the books, though that may be my bias as a Kindle-reading saxophone player. For them, I'd pack desiccant right into the cases.

Here's a previous question but the seasonal humidity is reversed.

For what it's worth, I moved recently and my stuff was in non-climate-control storage in northern NJ from late March to mid-July (so definitely some high-humidity but less rainy times). My saxophone and books all came out fine.
posted by supercres at 3:58 PM on September 15

What kind of guarantee do they offer that your stuff won't be harmed? I would put this on them - what happens if your stuff is ruined? I would also not put anything sentimental in there. Books can be replaced with insurance money, pictures not so much.
posted by soelo at 7:02 PM on September 15

That type of box is essentially small shipping container/long haul trailer - a rugged metal container. It will be no better or worse (although likely newer) than the regular trailer you stuff would otherwise get shipped in on a big truck. When the container arrives inspect it - have a flashlight, and check around the door with it closed. You are looking for it to be square and sealed, and for the rest of the box - no cracks or damage. The seal should be sufficient to keep out pests, animals and humans.

Maybe bag a few special items in plastic but otherwise I would be more concerned with stuff getting bumped and knocked over in transportation. Putting the box spring on the bottom isn't ideal and I would not get it loaded and unloaded - way more opportunity for damage, loss and theft. I grew up out west, and I don't think 3 months would be long enough for a closed box to get moldy, especially if you are planning on mitigating with the cedar and silica.

As for shipper's insurance my experience has been it has been by weight. A whole bike is worth like 6 bucks, and I'm still cheesed because one of my fav's magically got set free during a move. So get/check with a firm that offers renters insurance for your options to cover your kit if that is a concern.
posted by zenon at 7:58 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Fifteen years ago, in the UK, I put stuff in self-storage that turned out to be a shipping container in a field. The container either had or developed a crack in the base. Nothing actually got wet, but over the ten months or so that my stuff sat there, the uncontrolled temperature and humidity encouraged mildew growth. I ended up having to throw away practically everything not made of or sealed in something impermeable (plastic, metal). I can still detect the smell of it on the items that I kept, although thankfully it has faded over time.

Anecdotal, and obviously I was very unlucky there, but I would not take this risk, particularly given that you don't actually know for sure how long you'll be leaving things in storage. (I still have books in storage - safe, indoor, climate-controlled storage! - from a move ten years ago; I expected they'd be in there for months, a year at the outside, but things don't always go to plan.)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:45 AM on September 16

FWIW I would not take this risk. Even climate controlled storage has issues with pests, I cannot IMAGINE this scenario would turn out well at all.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:21 PM on September 16

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