Do you know how often your self-storage tenants visit their units? According to a study by online marketplace StorageCafe, 24% visit once per week, while 41% are on site at least once per month. As more facilities adopt technology and offer 24-hour access, these numbers have the potential to grow significantly.
Every time a tenant visits their unit, they interact with the door. This component is essential at every self-storage property. Not only does it play a significant role in curb appeal, it can impact site safety and, ultimately, bottom-line revenue. Over time, a door’s appearance and performance can be diminished by frequent operation and exposure to environmental elements. Maintenance is essential to minimize wear and tear, extend door life and prevent human injury. Let’s look at how to care for your doors as well as how to assess them for repair or replacement.
Attractive unit doors contribute to your self-storage facility’s overall aesthetic, which helps you attract and retain tenants. Customers don’t want to pay premium rates for units that are difficult to access. Doors that are hard to open or show visible signs of chipping and chalking make a poor impression.
To maintain a door’s shiny curtain, wipe it down using a mixture of mild dish detergent and water. Avoid abrasive oils or cleaners! Apply your solution using a soft, microfiber cloth. To rinse, apply a gentle flow of water from a hose without a nozzle attachment. Excessive water pressure can damage the paint. It can also allow water to seep into the unit or interfere with door alignment. If you don’t have time to perform a full hand washing, a gentle glass cleaner can be used for quick spot cleanups.
Eventually, a self-storage unit door will require servicing. Gradual wear and tear is natural, and unexpected damage can occur from hail, blowing or falling debris, careless tenants, and even vandalism.
Please be aware that door maintenance and repairs can be dangerous, which is why most jobs should be performed by a professional technician. Before beginning any job, always refer to the manufacturer’s operation manual and any safety instructions. If you need to call in a pro, consider consulting with your manufacturer, as it may offer its own maintenance program.
Door springs are one component that requires regular maintenance, though the level of attention will be determined by the type of door purchased. To ensure smooth operation, springs need good lubrication and proper tension. Some roll-up doors are made with enclosed, pre-lubricated springs that require virtually no regular maintenance. This is because they’re protected from elements that could otherwise cause them to dry out or suffer damage.
If your door springs aren’t enclosed and factory-lubricated, perform annual checkups to ensure the track alignment is intact and springs are well-oiled with a white-lithium grease. This’ll facilitate smooth operation and prevent doors from locking up or otherwise malfunctioning.
You also need to pay attention to spring tension. Springs can relax over time, making the door difficult to operate. When this occurs, the tension should be adjusted by a professional. Some doors include a patented ratcheting device that allows a technician to simultaneously fine-tune all the springs from one end. This ensures equal pull on the left and right sides for proper balance.
Other door components that require regular care are:
- Guides: Check these and clear them of any debris. Then coat them with wax or silicone to boost protection and function. Tighten any loose screws. If runners are damaged, replace them.
- Latches: Replace those that show signs of significant wear or tampering. These can sometimes loosen from regular use, so tighten the nuts on the inside of the door as needed.
- Handles and pulls: Make sure these remain in good working condition (no cracking or fraying) and are securely fastened.
- Seals: Check the header draft stop, jamb brush and bottom seals for deterioration. Replace as necessary. To help prolong the life of the bottom seal and protect it from sunlight, use a protectant like Armor All.
While routine maintenance will help you get the longest possible life out of your self-storage doors, wear and tear will eventually lead to repairs or even replacement. A big indication that it’s time to replace a door is when the curtain starts to crack, chip, chalk or fade. These signs of aging and decline are about more than curb appeal. Some operators are tempted to paint over a damaged door, but while this may provide a temporary shine, it adds dangerous weight to the curtain, making it unsafe to operate.
The good news is door-replacement projects don’t have to be daunting or overly disruptive, and there can be tangible benefits to this work. For example:
- Some insurance companies will offer discounts if you replace outdated doors with brand-new models because it boosts site safety.
- Newer doors can help you command higher self-storage rental rates. Some operators implement a $5 monthly rate increase for every upgraded unit.
- Newer doors mean less time spent on maintenance and repairs.
- You can take advantage of depreciation, cost segregation and other tax benefits to create a net-income offset.
Even the nicest self-storage facilities have to perform regular door maintenance, repairs and upgrades. Remember, doors don’t just affect the look of your facility, they’re a safety concern. Cleaning, maintaining and replacing doors as needed creates a safe environment for tenants and staff. Proper care not only increases site safety and lifetime door value by staying ahead of damage, it can save you time, money and resources in the long run. Upgrades can even help you generate extra revenue along the way.
Bethany Salmon is a marketing-content manager for Janus International Group, a global provider of self-storage doors and hallway systems, relocatable storage units, facility-automation solutions, and restoration services. To reach her, call 866.562.2580 or email [email protected].