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The ultimate guide to storage FAQs

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We might work in self storage day in and day out but we appreciate to the average person on the street, who doesn’t live and breath it, there can be lots of questions around how it all works. At McCarthy’s we’re always happy to answer any queries or concerns you might have – and don’t worry that we might think they’re daft questions, as we can guarantee they won’t be, and we’ll have been asked them many times before!

So, here is a list of some of the most common questions we get asked – but do get in touch if there’s anything you think we haven’t covered! 



Q – What exactly is self storage?

A – Self storage means you hire a room or locker (a variety of sizes are available) to safely store your items, usually within a larger storage warehouse. Some standalone units may be available. You can rent this space to fulfil a short term need, or you can rent it on a more permanent basis.

Q – What type of people use self storage?

A – Genuinely, everyone! So many people from different walks of life. Often, if there’s a personal reason for using storage, it will be linked to a large life event. So, for example, it could be a house move, separation or bereavement prompting the need for storage. It could be that building work is being undertaken at home. It could be a house clearance. We get older people storing items with us, who are having a clear out as they are downsizing. It can become a place to store memories or items you can’t bear to part with but have no space for at home. We also have those who might have belongings to store linked to a hobby or interest. 

On the other side of things, we have a lot of business storage users too. It might be an office looking for somewhere to safely store documentation, a trade company keeping tools and other items they need or it could be a place to keep surplus stock for a retailer or charity. Pick and pack online retailers often use our space as a warehouse, where they can keep items and package them up ready to be sent to customers. Students often use our facilities too, so they don’t need to pack everything up and send it home over the holidays. There are no right or wrong reasons for using storage – if you need extra space, we’re here.

Q – How do I make sure I choose the right storage centre?

A – You need to make sure your chosen storage centre is convenient for you, has plenty of parking and that it is secure. Not all storage facilities are created equal, and you should spend some time researching and reading reviews. The main things to consider are whether the storage centre is clean, dry, safe and secure and if the staff are helpful and friendly. All our facilities are monitored 24/7 by state-of-the-art CCTV security cameras. And don’t just take someone’s word for it – read their reviews.


Q – How would I get my belongings from my vehicle to my unit? What if I can’t get parked?

A – All of McCarthy’s self storage centres – in Leeds, Sheffield and Lincoln – have ample parking, so you don’t need to worry about not finding a space. We then have trolleys and lifts available to help you move your items from vehicle to unit. If you feel you might need assistance with a forklift, let us know.

Q – What if I need access outside of office hours?

A – At McCarthy’s we have round the clock access available, so you will have your own pincode entry to the building, and of course your own key or code to your individual unit. We understand that people sometimes have to visit outside of ‘standard’ hours.

Q – I have no idea what size storage unit I’d need – I don’t know where to start!

A – Don’t worry, this is our job, so we can help! If you let us know what you’re looking to store, we’ll be able to guide you to the right size unit. Whether you’re after the equivalent of a garage worth of storage, an under stairs cupboard, or you’re storing the contents of an entire house – don’t worry, we’ll have a storage unit to suit you. We also have a handy storage size guide online.

Q – What if I decide I need storage at short notice – or I no longer need my storage?

A – We try to be as flexible as possible with our customers. We can usually sort a storage unit pretty quickly, once we know what size you need. You’re not tied into any long term contracts, so let us know when you’re likely to vacate the unit (if you aren’t planning on keeping it long term), but if you need to extend it, we’ll work around it.

Q – Will my items be safe?

A – We take the safety of your items very seriously. We have onsite staff, CCTV and surveillance and the buildings are pincode entry with individual codes so we know who is entering. Sheffield and Lincoln have keyless entry to the units, which you can access using a mobile phone. We have no access to your unit, at any of our facilities.

Q – Is there a minimum or maximum time I can have my storage unit for?

A – Put simply, no, but we do require two weeks’ notice if you wish to vacate your unit. Have a chat with one of our friendly team at our storage facilities and we’ll be able to work with you to sort out a plan that best suits your needs.

Q – What happens if I realise I need a bigger or smaller unit a few weeks in?

A – That’s absolutely fine! We are happy to be flexible wherever possible, so if you realise your unit no longer suits your needs, just have a chat to us and we’ll try and find another which suits you better. We often find with small businesses that they may have peaks and troughs in terms of storage requirements, and we’re happy to work with any customer to ensure they have what they need.

Q – What is container storage?

A – Container, or crate storage, is something you would use when you don’t need to access your belongings while they are stored. People often use it when moving house, or if travelling overseas for a while, and they need to empty their property. Self storage enables you to get to your items whenever needed, but with crate storage, they will be delivered back to you as one when needed.

Q – Can I get storage for my business?

A – We work with many businesses as well as individuals who need storage. It makes sense for businesses with large volumes of stock, or requirements which vary, to have flexible storage solutions at hand. Some businesses, often professional services, may use us to store documents or archive files which aren’t regularly needed but can’t be disposed of. We also work with a lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs who don’t want to be storing items at home, with some even using our facilities as a ‘pick and pack’ location or workshop. Looking for business storage?

Q – I’d like to do stock takes at my storage facility – is there lighting and power?

A – We can sort power for you if required. There will always be lighting in your unit. 

Q – Can I run a business from my unit?


We do have some trade counter space and office space available at our storage centres, so get in touch with us if that would be of interest.

Q – As a student can I use your storage centre?

A – We welcome students looking for storage. Often it makes more sense to store items whilst travelling or during the long summer holiday, rather than taking them home. Especially for overseas students. Students can also club together and share a unit to save costs – although our weekly costs are lower than you might think. Looking for student storage?

Q – Are there things I can’t keep in a storage unit?

We do have some rules about what can and can’t be stored with us for safety reasons. Toxic, flammable and hazardous materials are not allowed and neither are fireworks or anything explosive. No animals (or humans!). Nothing perishable which might rot. And nothing illegal obviously. We will share this with you when you sign up for your storage unit.

Q – How should I pack my items?

A – There’s an art to packing boxes and it generally involves a lot of bubble wrap and care. If you’re packing breakable items then it’s a good idea to pad the bottom of the box, either with packing paper, bubble wrap or a blanket, as well as wrapping each individual item.

It’s important to choose top quality home storage boxes, to make sure that they are robust enough for the move and strong enough for secure stacking and continued use. The boxes available from our Box Shop are all double walled meaning they are extra strong. Just make sure that you don’t overfill them, making them impossible to lift – if you have a lot of heavy items in one, put them at the bottom and then pad the top out with blankets, cushions or towels.

Labelling is also vital – make sure you write clearly on each box what it contains. You’ll thank yourself later! (Top tip – write it on the top and side of boxes, so you can see contents at a glance however they are stacked)

Q – How can I protect any furniture I’m storing?

A – Preparing furniture for storage is important to prevent against damage. When it comes to storing a sofa or mattress long term, special covers, designed to fit, will help to keep them clean and dry. Bubble wrap is also essential for wrapping delicate items such as mirrors, clocks and paintings before you place them into storage boxes. Chests of drawers can be stored as they are – but you might want to put some shrink wrap around it so that they’re easier to carry without the drawers opening. Any furniture which can easily be dismantled should be, as it will be easier for transportation and give you more room in your storage unit. 

Make sure everything is thoroughly clean and dry, including garden furniture, to ward against any mould or damp. There’s nothing worse than finding strange things growing beneath your sofa cushions because you never got around to hoovering out those crumbs before you packed it away.

Q – Should there be a system to my storage unit?

A – The chances are that you will need to retrieve some of your items from storage, and we offer flexible, accessible storage units so you can do exactly that. There are some things you can’t plan for (like that out-of-the-blue fancy dress day or having to suddenly find your snow boots) but some things you can. Think ahead, just in case things you need your storage for longer than you expect, and make sure the things that you might need are at the front and on top.

And it may seem like overkill if you’re just an individual with a storage unit, rather than a business, but an inventory will make your life much easier! Make a note of where boxes are in the unit so you can head right to them if needed. 

Q – Is it like Storage Wars?

A – You’d be amazed how many times we get asked this. Sorry to disappoint you – but I’m afraid not! There’s no storage unit auctions here!

Have further questions or looking for storage in Leeds, storage in Sheffield or storage in Lincoln? Why not get in touch – we’re always happy to help

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Our Meanwood Road facility has:

  • On Site Staff
  • 24/7 Monitored CCTV
  • Packing Materials
  • Up to 24/7 Access
  • 7 Day Support
  • Paper Shredding
  • Loading trolleys
  • Fully Alarmed
  • Drive Up Units

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