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10 Most Common Shipping Container Repairs

9 Most Common Shipping Container Repairs

Shipping containers are exposed to many stresses during their lifetime. Although they are built to last, damage from shipping, handling and environmental conditions can occur over time. If you are looking for a used shipping container, it is important that you are aware of the different types of damage and repairs in order to choose the right one for your needs. If you already own one, knowing about these types of repairs will help keep your container in good condition.

Here we look at the 9 most common shipping container damage and repairs and how to manage them.

1. Holes

Holes can develop when the container is pierced or the steel begins to rust. Holes present a real threat to containers because they allow moisture to seep in. If the holes are rusted out, the corrosion can actually spread, making the holes larger. So how do you repair a hole in a shipping container? Welding can reconnect the steel for smaller holes.

However, repairing a shipping container with larger holes is costly as the patch of steel must be removed and then a new piece has to be welded into place. To avoid serious issues, holes should be repaired as soon as possible. Conducting regular inspections of the entire container is the best way to keep on top of holes. Look for tiny dots of light in the ceiling and walls and arrange for shipping container repairs right away.

2. Scratches and Dents

Minor scratches and dents are almost impossible to avoid with shipping containers. Luckily, they are also easy to spot and repair. Smaller dents don’t necessarily have to be repaired, as they don’t present a risk. However, if the dents are severe, they can cause issues with the roof or floor. Dents are removed with a hammer to force the metal back into place. Scratches increase the risk for corrosion, even when minor. In this case, sanding them down and applying anti-corrosive paint or coatings will do the trick.

3. Rust

Rust is mentioned often here as it tends to be one of the most common risks for steel containers. The question is, do shipping containers rust easily? Containers are made of weathering steel, often called Corten steel, which has increased resistance to atmospheric corrosion compared to non-alloyed steel. This type of steel was developed to eliminate the need for painting by forming a stable rust-like appearance after several years of exposure to weather. However, that doesn’t mean that shipping containers cannot be damaged by rust.

Standing water remains a threat to shipping containers, especially on the roof, which can lead to further damage. Keep an eye out for any dents or damage to the paint that may be holding moisture. Any signs of rust should be repaired as soon as possible. Shipping containers that have been exposed to salt water tend to be at higher risk for rust. Welded repairs, areas around the door and along the floor are also particularly vulnerable to rust. These areas need to be sanded and repaired as soon as possible to avoid further corrosion.

Be proactive in touching up the paint on your container’s structure with a moisture-resistant coating. If your container was painted several years ago, consider repainting it.

4. Malfunctioning Doors

Time, as well as accidents, can impact container doors. Damage doesn’t necessarily have to be to the doors themselves, as issues with the walls, roof or leveling of the container can also impact how the doors operate. If you notice the doors become more difficult to open and close, or they don’t feel like they are connected properly when closed, it could be related to issues with the seals. Seals protect against water, dust, debris and pests. If the rubber becomes degraded and worn over time, the door seals should be replaced as soon as possible. The doors themselves can also be damaged.

When doors are warped either due to damage to the doors or frames, the doors become jammed and difficult to open and close. In some cases, the doors can be repaired. For example, if the hinges become rusty or debris gets caught in the hinges, it interferes with smooth operation. In this case, the hinges can be lubricated to allow them to open and close smoothly. However, if the doors are very warped or damaged, they will have to be replaced.

The door locking system must also be maintained in proper operating condition to ensure a tight closure of the container doors. Just lubricate the various friction points regularly and you’re done.

5. Pierced Walls

Wall damage often occurs when signs are applied to shipping containers. Those holes are permanent, and once the sign is removed, the holes are completely exposed. Interior alterations can also lead to wall damage, such as shelving racks. Wall damage caused by screws must be welded to rejoin the steel. In cases where the holes are too large, the hole repair requires a new steel panel.

Holes, scratches and dents mentioned above are also other types of damage that can affect walls and therefore require repair.

Shipping container repairs

6. Malfunctioning Windows

If the shipping container is modified, windows can also become difficult to open and close over time. This can be caused by the same issues as doors, either exposure to the elements, issues with the walls or roof putting everything out of alignment, or simply a need for the window tracks to be lubricated to allow them to open and close smoothly.

7. Damaged Floor

Shipping containers have wooden floorboards that degrade with age and exposure to dampness. If you notice the floorboards seem loose or the floor is uneven, this occurs for a few different reasons. Excess weight on the floors can cause the boards to break apart, while unloading and loading with a forklift can scrape and put added weight on the floor. Water damage is also very common, which rots out the wood. Shipping container flooring is relatively easy to replace. The rotted or damaged wood is removed and then replaced with new, level floorboards.

8. Inadequate Ventilation

Shipping containers should have vents that allow air circulation while preventing water leaks. In some cases, the vents are either missing or damaged. As a result, the container is exposed to moisture. If the container does not have vents, proper vents should be installed. If existing vents are damaged, they should be repaired or replaced.

9. Presence of Mould

If you have issues with rust, holes or ventilation, mould can develop. Often it impacts the floorboards, which are vulnerable to moisture. If you either notice a musty smell in the container or see a dark discolouration on the floorboards, these are telltale signs of mould. Depending on the extent of the damage, spraying the mold with bleach may be sufficient. However, in some cases, you may need to replace the contaminated section of the floor.

The grade and condition of the shipping container you select will determine the type of repairs to be done first. Containers classified as “new” or “cargo worthy” will require the least amount of repairs. Once you purchase your container, an inspection twice a year and regular maintenance will keep your container in good operating condition and allow you to quickly detect and address potential sources of damage.

Conterm sells used and new shipping containers for all types of applications. We will help you choose the right container for your needs and make the necessary repairs to meet your requirements. Contact us for more information on our shipping containers for sale and modified containers.


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