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How to Increase the Lifespan of Your Shipping Container

December 1, 2023

If you’ve recently become the proud owner of a brand new shipping container it’ll probably be in your interests to do what you can to make sure it lasts as long as it can. Don’t get us wrong, shipping containers are naturally strong, tough and durable, but there are definitely a few additional steps you can take to stretch their lifespan to the max.

Proper care and maintenance of your shipping container can exponentially increase its longevity. These robust structures are designed to withstand harsh conditions at sea and hence, are well-suited to resist a variety of environmental factors on land. However, that doesn’t mean they’re entirely impervious to wear and tear.

Regular inspection for any rust or corrosion, ensuring good ventilation to prevent condensation build-up, and adequate cleaning of the container can significantly contribute to maintaining its structural integrity over time. It’s a worthwhile investment of time and effort to preserve the life of your shipping container and truly maximise its potential.

Here are some of our top tips at NZBOX for extending the lifespan of your shipping container.

Inspect your shipping container for cracks, leaks, and other possible damages

Regular inspections are crucial to the overall maintenance of your shipping container for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, timely identification of any minor issues such as cracks, leaks, or the onset of rust is key to taking preventative action before these minor issues develop into serious, costly problems. By regularly inspecting the container, you can ascertain its overall health and carry out necessary repairs and maintenance tasks promptly, thereby preventing further deterioration and extending the container’s lifespan.

Secondly, regular inspections are not just about identifying problems, but also about keeping the container clean and dry. By routinely checking and clearing the container of any debris, you can avoid blockages that might lead to condensation and subsequent corrosion. Furthermore, regular inspections ensure that the container’s ventilation systems, which are critical for maintaining the internal environment and preventing dampness, are in top working order.

Overall, regular inspections allow for proactive maintenance, which is significantly more cost-effective in the long run. It’s a bit like regular health checks, catching potential issues early and dealing with them swiftly can save a lot of heartache (and cost) down the line. So don’t underestimate the power of a regular inspection schedule for your shipping container.

Paint the exterior of the shipping container for protection from UV rays and weathering elements

One of the easiest ways to increase the lifespan of your shipping container is to give it a coat of paint. You can do this yourself, of course, but a lot of shipping container companies can do this for you using the most suitable paint while saving you time, hassle and effort.

Specialist shipping container paint offers an additional layer of protection against UV radiation and corrosion. This paint is designed to reflect damaging UV rays, helping to prevent the container from overheating and the material from weakening. It also contains corrosion inhibitors, compounds that slow down the rusting process by forming a protective barrier on the metal surface. This can significantly enhance the longevity of your shipping container, particularly in areas with harsh weather conditions or high levels of environmental pollutants.

The specialist paint, while an investment initially, pays off in the long term by reducing maintenance costs and extending the life of your shipping container.

A good opportunity with paint also comes in the form of branding if the container is being used as part of a business.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Nina Valkhoff | Muralist (@ninapelirroja)

Fix any rusty parts with a rust-resistant paint or sealant

Rust is the enemy of any metal structure, including shipping containers, as it significantly reduces their lifespan and structural integrity. If you notice patches of rust forming on your shipping container, it’s essential to address them immediately. First, you’ll need to remove the rust using a wire brush or an abrasive pad, ensuring that you get right down to the bare metal. Once you’ve completely removed the rust, apply a rust-resistant paint or sealant to the affected area. These products are specifically designed to prevent the formation of rust, offering an additional line of defence against the elements. For the best results, apply several coats, allowing each one to dry fully before proceeding with the next. Regularly inspect your shipping container and promptly address any rust spots that appear to keep your container in good condition for years to come. Remember, proactive maintenance is always more cost-effective than reactive repairs.

Look after your roof

A shipping container is a bit like a house in that it’s only as good as the roof above it. Looking after the roof of your shipping container is therefore just as important. Whilst you always see shipping containers stacked one on top of another in ports around the world, it’s important to remember that it’s the reinforced corner castings of the shipping container that give it the strength to withstand these weights. The roofs themselves are not made to support weight and will flex even when walked across. Container roofs are also flat so they are prone to collecting pools of water, ice, leaves and other debris from their environments. It’s important to clear these off as regularly as possible again to prevent rust and leaks.

Make sure the insulation is intact to prevent condensation buildup

Insulation plays a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity of shipping containers, particularly in the prevention of condensation build-up. The formation of condensation is a natural phenomenon that occurs when warm air, holding moisture, comes into contact with a cold surface, causing the moisture to condense. In a shipping container, this can be a significant issue, particularly in colder climates or during temperature fluctuations, leading to dampness, corrosion, and potential damage to the goods stored inside.

The implementation of effective insulation in a shipping container acts as a thermal barrier, reducing the rate of heat transfer and thereby minimising the temperature differential between the interior air and the container walls. This helps to control the onset of condensation. Furthermore, insulation materials often come with a vapour-resistant layer, which adds an additional level of protection by preventing moisture from permeating the insulation and reaching the container’s walls.

In essence, investing in robust insulation for your shipping container not only ensures the longevity of the container itself but also provides peace of mind that your stored goods are safeguarded against condensation-related damage. Hence, insulation shouldn’t be viewed as an optional extra, but rather as a crucial component of shipping container maintenance and care.

Mount your container

Mounting your container on planks, bricks, piles or some other foundation might not seem the most obvious thing to do but it can certainly be something to prolong its lifespan. The main situation for doing this would be if your shipping container would otherwise be placed directly onto the earth, particularly areas that become easily damp and/or boggy. Without a gap below the shipping container, moisture can easily get trapped which can lead to corrosion in the flooring. A container on the ground is also susceptible to unexpected flooding which can penetrate the container and cause damage internally as well. The only thing to be mindful of when attempting to mount your container is to do so properly, usually with the help of your container company. If the mounts are uneven, you’ll potentially compromise its structural integrity over time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A post shared by Montara (@montara.arqeng)

 

Clean the interior of the shipping container regularly to remove dust and debris

Regular cleaning of the interior of your shipping container is another key aspect of its maintenance. Dust, debris, and detritus can accumulate over time, leading to potential issues such as floor damage, unpleasant odours, and the growth of mould or mildew if not addressed promptly. Use a broom or vacuum to remove loose dust and debris, and consider washing the interior with a mild detergent periodically to further enhance cleanliness. If your container is used for storing goods, ensure to also clean the items before storage to prevent the transfer of dirt or debris. Additionally, check the container for any signs of rust or damage during your cleaning routine. By incorporating these steps into your maintenance schedule, you can significantly increase the lifespan of your shipping container and maintain its optimal condition.

Regular lubrication

To get the most out of your shipping container, every part of it requires and deserves your care and attention. The hinges, locking bar brackets, locking bar guides, cam retainers and handles – all of which are found on your shipping container doors, need to be well looked after.

Keeping them well lubricated and greased will give them anti-moisture, and anti-corrosion protection and keep them from getting stiff. When joints become stiff, more effort is required to use them and with greater force applied, damage can also be inadvertently inflicted.

Your container doors will probably be the most used part of your shipping container so be sure not to overlook this step as if you lose your doors, the usefulness of your container becomes that much less.

Security

Security may seem a strange thing to include in a discussion about container lifespan but it’s definitely a factor to be considered right from the outset.

Shipping containers are used, primarily for storage, in fixed placements or in transport. Often, the goods inside are of some value and nefarious types may be inclined to break into them, causing damage to the container itself.

A solid lockbox is a great deterrent to stop this from happening. They can be easily installed on any container door and prevent bolt cutters from reaching into your padlock. It’s a really easy step to follow and one that has no negative consequences.

Vents

Last but not least we’ve mentioned things that can damage your container from the outside but you should also think about what can happen from the inside too.

Moisture build-up from within a container is definitely a cause for concern, especially in climates where humidity is a factor and where the difference in temperatures between daytime and nighttime is extreme. Moisture from within not only leads to corrosion in the same way it does from the outside but will also potentially damage your goods by mould and mildew.

Vents and whirlybirds will encourage and regulate the airflow and temperature inside your container. Whirlybirds are particularly good at providing an escape route for hot air within, while at the same time bringing cool air in which is exactly what needs to happen to keep it moisture-free.

Make sure your container lasts as long as it should!

As you can see, there are some easy tips to follow to ensure your shipping container has the lifespan it should. You might not need to follow every single one of them depending on your situation but the more you do, the more likely you’ll be to have a container that goes the distance.

Need help choosing the right container?

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