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How to Open a Storage Unit Door Like A Pro

For anyone who’s never considered storage before now, the question, “How to open a storage unit door?” is a valid one.

Opening the door to your storage unit seems like it should be a fairly straightforward affair, and for the most part it is, but there are some tips and tricks to remember.

Depending on the age, features and amenities at your chosen storage facility, it’s possible to encounter multiple types of doors and locks, which we’ll cover below.

Types of Storage Unit Doors

Storage facilities will typically have one of two types of doors: roll-up overhead doors or swing doors. While there are some automatic doors (especially for ADA compliance), most storage unit doors must be manually opened.

How to open Roll-up Storage unit doors

Most doors at storage facilities are the roll-up kind, similar to most garage doors. Like garage doors, most will have a spring tensioner and ball bearings to make it as easy as possible to roll up.

The door might be narrow or wide, depending on the size of the unit you’ve rented. Larger doors will be heavier, but the spring tensioner should balance out the effort required. The standard door height is 7 ft. tall.

Doors will roll up from the bottom and should have a handle to grasp, or in some cases a pull-rope. In some cases, you might need to lightly apply downward pressure with your foot to start the process.

As with any kind of weight, it’s important to lift with your legs rather than your back, so bend down, grasp the handle and stand up.

Keep pushing the door up and don’t let go of it until it’s over your head and has stopped rolling. Once you’ve rolled it all the way up, the door mechanism itself should prevent it from rolling back down.

  1. Unlock the door and clear lock from latches (as necessary)
  2. Bend at the knees, grab the handle and slowly lift with your legs
  3. Roll the door up over your head until it stop

How to open Swing doors

Some storage units will have swing doors rather than roll-up doors. At many facilities, these doors will be ADA compliant.

Like a standard door in your home, swing doors will have a handle that you’ll need to turn. They will always swing outward, often up to 180 degrees.

  1. Unlock the lock and clear lock from latches (as necessary)
  2. Grasp the handle and rotate downward
  3. Slowly pull the door out toward you
  4. Swing open up to 180 degrees

Automatic doors

Some storage facilities have unit doors that can be raised and lowered automatically, similar to a home’s garage door. These can be part of the facility’s ADA compliance measures or are offered at facilities with oversized units.

Types of Locks

One of the important safety features of any storage unit is the lock. Here’s the key (literally and figuratively speaking): It’s YOUR lock. No one else has access or holds the key.

Most storage facilities will sell the appropriate locks for their types of units in their store.

Disc Locks

These locks are special padlocks made of hardened steel, which are opened by a key or in some cases can be opened with a keyless 4-digit combination code. Just open the lock using key or combo and thread it through the holes in the latches on the door and frame.

Regular padlocks or combination locks (like you had on your school locker) are not recommended, since they are easier to break into.

Cylinder locks

Less common at storage facilities are cylinder locks. These fit into a special latch plate and more closely resemble a home door lock rather than a padlock. Just turn the key to open or close. The biggest advantage is that these cannot be cut like a padlock.

PIN locks

Some storage facilities will have PIN-controlled locks. These require you to enter a combination code on a keypad, often followed by a special character (such as 1234#). It’s important to follow the specific steps to re-lock the unit as well.

Smart locks

While using an app on your phone to unlock a door has been a thing for many years, especially in the hospitality industry, this technology is starting to move into self-storage. Using Bluetooth, a customer just needs to hold their phone near the lock to open it. Look for this type of technology to start showing up in storage facilities in the coming years.

Closing Your Storage Unit Door

Roll-up doors should have a handle or rope pull to tug. The tension mechanism should make the action easy and prevent the door from ascending too quickly but take care to stay clear of the threshold.

Swing doors will close like regular doors, just take care to make sure the threshold is clear and your hands are on the handle, not the frames. 

In each instance, there will be latches on the door and the frame which you’ll need to line up before locking your unit. For roll-up doors, you might need to apply light pressure with your foot at the bottom of the door to get the latch to line up.

  1. Check to see that nothing is in the frame
  2. Pull down or swing door inward
  3. Align latch opening on door with latch opening on frame
    • Lightly press on bottom lip of door if necessary
  4. Put lock in latch holes and click the lock shut
    • For PIN lock, complete lock process
    • For locks with combinations, scramble the code

You are now a Pro at opening storage units

No matter which type of door your unit has, it’s important to open the door slowly to ensure nothing falls out. Similarly, close the door slowly to ensure nothing’s in the way that might get damaged (especially your fingers!).

It’s also important to let the store manager know if you encounter any issues with the door or the locking mechanism. If your possessions—or your well-being—are in jeopardy, don’t be afraid to speak up!

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