As cities seek innovative solutions for more sustainable urbanism, used shipping containers have emerged as…
Used shipping container modifications serve an endless list of purposes, from workshops and offices to man caves and she sheds and from tiny homes and guest houses to mobile boutiques and event stalls. Today, shipping containers for sale are a hot commodity with a lineup of enthusiastic buyers waiting to jump on the modified container bandwagon. Their versatility offers an affordable option for dozens of uses, but they require proper maintenance if you want them to last. Our shipping container maintenance 101 guide will help you make the most out of your shipping container.
How Long Do Shipping Containers Last?
Shipping containers last up to 10 to 12 years out at sea. Once retired, however, they can find a new lease on life and last upwards of 25 years or longer with proper maintenance.
Importance of Shipping Container Maintenance
Although shipping containers are made of sturdy steel, over time, exposure to harsh conditions can lead to minor damage. If the damage is overlooked, it can only get worse, leading to damage far more difficult to repair. Rust and corrosion can ruin the integrity of the entire container, even when in small patches.
Damage can also occur to major elements of the container, including the original door system. If modifications have been made, things such as windows and doors also begin to wear down over time. This can lead to energy efficiency issues, condensation, leaks, and more.
- Protect the contents from damage
- Keep repair costs down
- Maintain the container’s value for resale
In other words, maintenance makes sure you get the most bang for your loonie.
Shipping Container Maintenance Checklist
To help keep your shipping container in tip-top shape, use our shipping container maintenance checklist:
The original doors on cargo containers need to be checked often for signs of wear and tear. As the only moving parts, they need to be cleaned and lubricated to avoid rust.
Check for signs of damage such as locks that stick or difficulty opening and closing the doors (keep in mind sticky doors can also be caused by a level issue). A commercial-grade steel cleaner will remove the buildup of dirt and oily grime so the hinges and locks don’t stick. Lubricants such as WD-40 keep the door hinges operating smoothly. If the door has seals, these should be replaced at the first sign of wear.
Check Modified Areas
Modifications such as windows and doors require the same attention as any building. Check windows and doors for signs of leaks, and make repairs as required. Be sure to check for air leaks by running your hand along the caulking to see if you feel a breeze. Replacing damaged window and door caulking and weather stripping will reduce the risk of leaks and wasted energy.
Inspect the Outer Structure
Rust is enemy number one when it comes to shipping containers. Doing a thorough inspection in the fall and spring, top to bottom will ensure you can spot and prevent rust issues in the early stages. Things such as dents and scratches increase the risk for rust, as they allow moisture, snow melt and rain to settle and eat away at the protective paint layer.
Although your container is rust-resistant, exposure to the elements year after year can slowly cause damage. Repair dents and scratches and remove rust to prevent corrosion. An easy rust removal tip is to use a brush and vinegar.
If you see a lot of rust or areas where the paint is worn, you should repaint your container to protect it against rust. You can also consider having a water treatment applied as part of your shipping container maintenance regime.
Inspect and Clean the Roof
Because the roof is flat, it is more vulnerable to damage. As mentioned, containers are very sturdy and designed to withstand the weight of stacking fully loaded containers during transit. That said, the structural integrity is mostly supported by the corners as opposed to the actual roof itself. Because of this, you want to make sure the roof remains clear of debris, including ice and snow.
Debris, standing water and snow put weight on the roof, which can lead to dents and increase the risk for rust. Keeping an eye on the roof to look for signs of sagging or snow and ice overload will prevent weight-related damage. Although it seems like a lot of work, you might consider removing snow after a major snowfall and fallen debris following a violent wind or rain storm.
Check Electrical and Plumbing
Modified containers with electrical and plumbing should be inspected annually. This ensures preventative maintenance is taken care of to avoid serious issues down the road. A qualified technician can perform the electrical inspection as well as mechanical and electrical troubleshooting as required. They can look for things like faulty breakers and damaged wires that increase the risk of fires. As well, you should be aware of issues with your outlets or light switches and have them repaired by a qualified electrician.
Plumbing should also be inspected as leaks are never good in a shipping container. Be aware of things like leaky faucets or dripping sounds and find the source as soon as possible. Water damage can be extremely expensive for modified shipping containers, so pay attention to leaks and have them repaired right away.
Check Container Levelling
When your shipping container is delivered to its location, it is checked for levelling to prevent movement. However, the ground below can change, which means re-levelling the container is often required. Shifting can cause all kinds of issues, from sticky doors to increased moisture issues and from damaged pipes to water pooling.
Containers should sit on a flat level concrete pad or gravelled area. Even these ideal conditions can still lead to shifting. Make sure all four corners are on the ground and the cross members are away from the floor for equal weight distribution.
Save Yourself From Major Headaches
From doors and roof to windows and plumbing, every part of your shipping container should be checked and repaired as soon as you identify a problem. The shipping container maintenance tips listed above will help keep your shipping container in excellent condition. With proper shipping container maintenance, you can increase longevity, avoid costly damage and retain the resale value of this hot commodity.
Conterm helps you find the most appropriate shipping container for your project and budget. We offer used shipping containers for sale and new shipping containers for sale in many sizes, grades and conditions. Don’t hesitate to call on our team to help you find the right container for you.