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Used Shipping Container – Pitfalls to Avoid

Customers often ask us what they should be looking for in a Used Shipping Container.  With any Pre-Owned products, you don’t want to be acquiring a previous owner’s problems….used shipping containers are no exception!

Here is a helpful list of items to avoid when shopping for a used shipping container:

Shipping containers are of course constructed with steel; rust can degrade structural integrity and generally result in a poor appearance.  The last thing a shipping container owner wants is someone from a neighboring property complaining about the look of their property and its contents.  Making sure you have a container that is free of visible – and not-so-visible – rust, is essential.

These can result from the effects long-term rust, or from some sort of puncture as a result of an accident.  Obviously anything affecting the structural integrity of a shipping container is an issue to consider; also, holes can allow in water, other environmental elements, and even critters.  Holes are to be avoided!

Sometimes rust may be so deep, the material may be ready to crumble in that location.  It is important to not only visually inspect a container, but to ensure that any extremely rusted spots have not been simply painted over.  Let the buyer beware! Often rust that has been painted over can be identified by carefully inspecting the texture of the paint.

Broken Doors
Shipping containers are often purchased to secure items, for instance tools at a job site, or items kept on a hunting property and so forth.  Doors, and the ability to lock them, are the major security feature of shipping containers.  Broken doors are an important item to check for.

Wooden Floor Problems
Although shipping containers are made of Corten steel, and have steel beams incorporated into their base, the interior typically uses a wooden floor mounted onto the base with screws, made of marine-grade plywood.  Although marine-grade plywood is less prone to rot, it is after all wood, and should be inspected for holes, missing portions, and rot.

Incorrect Matching of Container Size and Dimensions to Site
It’s important to make sure you survey the site where a container is going to be placed, to ensure there is enough room for it – a 20 foot container will not fit in 25 feet of space for instance.  One item that people forget to account for sometimes is that the doors themselves must have room to open wide – they can be opened as far back as 270 degrees.  So look at the site you are going to place the shipping container at and consider carefully before selecting one.

Door Gasket Problems
Many people examine the exterior door gasket and assume that this is the main consideration for watertightness when examining a container.  However, used shipping containers are equipped with both an outer door gasket and an inner one.  Sometimes an outer gasket may be fine, but the inner one may be compromised, or vice versa.  To ensure watertightness, both must be in proper condition.

Lack of Watertightness
Not all Used Shipping Containers are wind and watertight.  Checking whether a particular unit is can be an important step in evaluating it.

Lack of Certification for Ocean-Going Shipping
Sometimes a customer will inquire as to purchasing a used shipping container, not to use it for the typical applications we see such as storing valuable goods or materials, but instad to use the shipping container for its original purpose – shipping it on an oceangoing vessel as a cargo container.  In order to ship a used shipping container and use it for its original purpose, the container must be *certified* and must carry a special plate that makes clear this designation.  Some used shipping containers have this certification and some do not; it is important not to assume anything and check regarding this aspect.

Used containers can provide fantastic value in a wide variety of applications – just make sure you select the right one, it’s of high quality, and you purchase or rent it from an organization well-versed in properly sizing, selecting, and delivering containers.

Out-Back Storage would be happy to help you select the container that is just right for your application – click on the “Inventory” menu item on the upper right to see our Inventory Now, or fill out the contact form and let us know what you’re looking for!


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