How will our things fare in a shipping container?
July 21, 2021 12:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm moving from St. Louis, MO to Atlanta, GA in about a month. For listing the house I'm putting many of my belongings in a storage container for about one month. The containers we have seem to be dry and fairly resistant to pests. The one thing they aren't is cool in St. Louis Summer weather (averaging ~88 F and ~65% humidity.) The boxes are basically a giant oven, especially when not stored in a climate controlled space. We've accepted that some things might be damaged by the heat and others will be just fine. The more we can put in the containers the better. What's good in a container and what's not?

Tell me about your experiences using storage containers for a move and what got ruined by heat and humidity or survived the heat and humidity that surprised you?

Two types of items of particular interest are CDs and Lego. Can those withstand that sort of heat and humidity for a month (today it's 89 F with a 50% relative humidity and it's 102 F in the container)?

What other things would you not put in there?
posted by brokeaspoke to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Vinyl records may be toast.

I'd be worried about mold. Heat and stagnant humid air could let something flourish.

The heat alone isn't that bad- if it gets shipped in a container (i.e., everything) it will have to survive going places hotter than that.
posted by Jobst at 12:53 PM on July 21, 2021

Silica gel desiccant packets by the handful in every box/tote. I’ve also seen large silica gel pkts, like the size of your hand, hanging from the ceiling of containers when they are stuffed for transport by sea. I’d be worried about leather, shoes, belts, bags.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:46 PM on July 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This article has a handy chart that describes what can happen to legos at various temperatures. I think they should probably be fine in your shipping container.
posted by corey flood at 3:02 PM on July 21, 2021

Does it have a whirlybird vent, or can you install one? It will help a little bit.

If you can leave it in a shaded/ covered area, that can help.
posted by porpoise at 3:19 PM on July 21, 2021

Best answer: Would not put wooden/string musical instruments in there. Heat and humidity changes would cause warpage.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 7:18 PM on July 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'd be wary of anything held together by glue. I forgot my inflatable paddleboard in the trunk one very hot day and it clearly didn't love the heat. Perhaps you pack while considering the construction of each item and if the heat COULD melt/warp/otherwise damage it, and then your valuation of if it's worth the risk or not.
posted by carlypennylane at 10:11 PM on July 21, 2021

Best answer: Vinyl records may be toast.

If you leave a vinyl record on, say, a windowsill or a cabinet where it may be subject to direct sunshine, (and thus get a fair bit hotter than 100F) then yes. But inside a cabinet/box/container, stored horizontally in stacks of 20..25 and not having anything else pressing down on them? No problem. Humidity could conceivably affect the sleeves, but that would apply to any paper or cardboard object and I doubt 65% average for a month is going to cause mould. What you do want to look out for are the nighttime temperatures where you might get condensation. Silica gel packs are your friend there. Are you able to get at the container to check their status and regenerate the packs? In that case you may also want to put a battery-powered temp/humidity logger inside the container.

CDs and DVDs likewise, even when (re-)writables are more temperature-sensitive in the long run.

We had 95% of our stuff, furniture, books and papers, tools, electronics, audio gear and media (vinyl, CDs, tapes and cassettes), most computers and their media, stored in containers for about 4..5 months during a fairly hot (for Dutch values thereof, though several days it was well over 30C/86F) summer, and it all came out of them just fine.
posted by Stoneshop at 1:42 AM on July 22, 2021

Best answer: If you've been keeping cash register receipts in your records (for tax or extended warranty purposes) be wary that they may have been printed on thermal paper. Extended exposure to high temperatures may turn the whole receipt black. Some vintage fax machines also use thermal paper.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:53 AM on July 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

This site lets you input temp and relative humidity, and outputs days until mold, metal corrosion risk, etc. I don't know how to interpret all the outputs, but e.g., at 102 degrees and 65% RH, there's no mold risk; at 102 and 80%, it's 14 days 'til mold, etc.
posted by daisyace at 2:02 PM on July 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

This might be too obvious, but no candles. I had professional movers picking through some of my self-pack boxes last year to pull out the candles ... never even ocurred to me to think about it.
posted by mccxxiii at 6:00 PM on July 22, 2021

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