Shipping containers are built to be sturdy and reliable. From journeying the seas to being transported on the back of trains and lorries, these containers can withstand the harshest of elements and keep the cargo fairly intact. In general, shipping containers are made from steel with hinged doors and a closed top. While they are robust in nature, shipping containers can be subject to wear and tear if exposed frequently to the elements. This makes container storage maintenance a very important aspect when it comes to the container’s lifespan.
To ensure your shipping container stays in good shape, you have to maintain it on a regular basis. This 6-step maintenance guide will help preserve the condition of your shipping container and guarantee a long service life.
Step 1: Inspect the container roof
The first step in shipping container maintenance is to inspect the roof of the container thoroughly. If you’ve purchased a second-hand container, chances are the roof has been dented due to the containers being stacked on top of each other. Deep dents can collect rainwater and lead to corrosion if not addressed.
All it takes is using a hammer and a dolly to fix minor dents on a container roof. Once those have been fixed, check the exterior paint and see if it has cracked or chipped. You want to fix any paint issues on the container to prevent corrosion from occurring. Simply treat the dented area with rustproof paint and you’re good to go.
Step 2: Treat rusted areas immediately
Plenty of shipping container customers trick their customers into believing that shipping containers are rustproof, especially those made from corten steel panels. While corten steel does exhibit higher corrosion-resistant properties compared to other forms of steel, it’s not completely rustproof. This type of steel is sensitive to salty air environments and requires treatment to prevent corrosion.
Examine both the interior and exterior of the container and look for areas that have been scuffed, scratched, or cut. Treat these areas immediately by sealing, painting, and rustproofing them before it starts compromising the container.
Step 3: Lubricate the container doors
Shipping containers are pretty straightforward in that they only have a couple of moving parts. This includes the door hinges themselves and these parts require regular cleaning and inspection. First, you want to clean the door hinges by using a commercial-grade steel cleaner. This removes any dirt, rust, and grit that may cause the hinge from getting stuck. You can follow that up by using a lubricating spray (WD-40 works just fine) and applying grease on the cams for smooth hinge movement.
Shipping containers usually have seals and rubber gaskets to create a sealed environment for the goods inside. Usually, gaskets and seals last for around 10 years before they need any replacement. Inspect the condition of these rubbers and replace them immediately if they show any signs of wear and tear. This will create a nice, good seal on the container door to keep out rain, snow, and precipitation from entering inside.
Step 4: Look for signs of container modifications
It’s not uncommon for shipping containers to be modified in various shapes and forms. Some used containers may be cut to reduce its size and welded back together, which can affect their ability to resist corrosion, dirt, and water. Look for modifications signs on the container like on the joins or metal areas to ensure it’s been welded properly and has been repainted and rust-proofed.
Step 5: Store the container on a level surface
When storing the shipping container, you want to place it on a surface that’s as level as possible. What this does is prevent water from collecting on one side of the container and avoid corrosion on its underside. Simply use a spirit level and you’ll be able to determine how levelled the surface is. Placing the container on a well-drained area also helps with preventing corrosion when precipitation is present.
Step 6: Fix the refrigeration unit
If you own a refrigerated shipping container (otherwise known as reefers), you should service the refrigeration unit periodically to avoid expensive repairs down the line. In this instance, we recommend having a qualified technician do the repairs for you. They’ll diagnose any electrical and mechanical issues with pinpoint accuracy and ensure the interior of the container meets food-grade standards.
Whether it be new, used, or even a one-trip container, all shipping containers require regular maintenance. By following these maintenance tips, you’ll experience great service life out of your shipping container and rely on it for storage for years to come.