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Summer Shape-Up: A Self-Storage Operator's Guide to Complete Facility Maintenance

Amy Campbell Comments
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Moving Trucks

“It is crucial you follow the guidelines in your owner’s manual for preventive maintenance and warranty conditions,” says CJ Olsen of truck provider On the Move Inc.. Treat your facility truck like you would any vehicle. Routinely check its fluid levels including brake, oil, transmission, power steering, windshield-washer and coolant.

Verify the tires are in good condition, and turn signals, headlights, brake lights and interior lights are operable. Your truck should be detailed and cleaned out regularly. Repair all damage to your truck as soon as possible.

Keep your truck graphics up to date to reflect a positive impression of the cleanliness of your facility. Peeling graphics or those with graffiti are deterrents to renters. A clean, well-cared-for truck will show customers you have a quality business.


This where a bulk of your day-to-day maintenance comes in. Your doors, units and office require regular upkeep. Preventive maintenance can usually keep small problems from becoming major hassles. 

Doors are a vital part of your business, and they require upkeep. You don’t want them to be faded, chalky, dented, squeaky, jammed or difficult to open. Here’s your “Door Maintenance 101 Guide.”

  • Keep ‘em clean. Good old soap and water can be your door’s best friend. Wash in the shade to prevent water spots. Get rid of greasy fingerprints and smudges with a quality spray cleaner and a cloth. Be careful not to get water into the units. Replace faded, missing or broken door numbers.
  • Restore doors with a quality protective coating, which can safeguard them from corrosion and oxidation. Teresa Sedmak of Everbrite Inc. advises using a coating that will expand and contract and has good adhesion to metal, because roll-up doors flex when rolled up and down.
  • A fresh coat of paint will brighten and protect your doors. Look for paints recommended for self-storage metal doors.  
  • Over time, the oils on the door axles, springs and tracks can dry out, and problems arise where rubber and plastic surfaces come in contact. Self-storage building manufacturer BETCO Inc. recommends lubricating springs and axles with spray or lithium grease. At the same time, door tracks should be sprayed with clear silicone. These items are readily available at any auto-supply or home-improvement store. Do not use grease or WD-40 on the guides, it will attract dirt and gum up the rollers.
  • For interior hallway doors and panels, do not use hoses or buckets of water. Instead, use a quality waterless wash and wax to clean and shine.


Elevator and Lifts

Elevator and lifts maintenance is often ignored until something goes wrong. Be proactive and follow these tips:

  1. Get the extended warranty. Make sure you’re covered for the long term.
  2. If your elevator is not working, check for blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers before calling the manufacturer.
  3. Replace obsolete equipment. When converting older buildings to self-storage or upgrading first-generation facilities, follow OSHA standards.
  4. Consider installing a lift instead of an elevator. Lifts transport tenants’ goods but not people. They are typically more cost-effective and easier to maintain and will serve the same purpose: getting stuff to the units. Lifts should also be routinely inspected and serviced by a certified tech.
  5. Install diamond-plate aluminum on the floor and sides of the lift. It looks good and lasts forever. Aluminum is also light and will not significantly increase weight.

Unit Interiors

Imagine opening a unit in front of prospective customer only to find it dirty or showing signs of pests. When a unit is vacated, sweep the floor, ceilings and corners. The floor may also need a good mopping. Kill odors with a deodorizer. Check for evidence of leaking, insects and rodents. Be sure to lock vacant units.

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