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5 Tips for Inspecting a Shipping/Storage Container

02.03.2014 - Posted by Updated On 02.03.2014    

Inspecting a 20' or 40' shipping container before you purchase it may seem like a big task, but it's actually a lot easier than you might think. No matter if you're using it for an on-site residential storage unit, or converting it into a container house or prepper cabin, most people don't buy shipping containers every day, so they don't know what to look for when they're making the purchase. Luckily, a shipping container is a pretty simple piece of equipment and inspecting one can be done in a matter of minutes, if you know what to look for, and where to look for it!

1. Swing the doors: Open and close the container doors and see how they feel. Some encouragement may be needed, but that doesn't necessarily signal any problems. If the doors don't line up properly the container may be "racked" and out of alignment, and if that's the case it could mean corrosion could be present elsewhere on the container.

2. Read the plate: On the door of every shipping container is the CSC plate, and this plate contains some important information. At the time of production every manufacture is required to include a standard plate displaying the name of the manufacturer, the company that the container was built for, as well as the production date. The production date will tell you how old the container is, and will give you an idea of the condition that the container should be in. Some CSC plates also include a "First maintenance examination due" section which will give you an idea of the maintenance history.

Shipping Container CSC Plate

3. Go inside and close the doors: Go inside of the container on a bright day and close the doors. Once inside, look around for any light making its way into the container. If the container is pitch black, you've found a container with no deep rust. If you see any areas of light coming through you'll want to inspect those areas closer and see what the problem could be. Worst case scenario you may have found a section on the container that's rusted through. Shipping Container Interior

4. Stretch a line: If you have a long piece of string or rope with you, tie it to one of the corner castings and pull the string tight to the other end. The string should remain an equal distance from the wall for the entire length of the container. If the distance is off at any point it could mean the container is not square and this could lead to other problems.

5. Check the corners: We've mentioned twice in this article the importance of a shipping container being square, because if a container is racked the first place that rust will begin to develop is along the seams and in the corners. This corrosion will take hold in the places because the areas were originally protected by paint and sealants are now exposed an unprotected.

For the most part, 20' and 40' shipping containers are pretty standard in terms of design and construction, so these tips are accurate across the board. If you're looking for refrigerated container, open top, flat rack, or other type of specialty equipment there will be additional things to check for and it the inspection may be more complex. Also, if you're planning on using the container for shipping you'll need to consult with a local surveyor to have an official inspection completed.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, or shipping containers in general feel free to contact our office at any time. We'll do our best to connect you with a container that meets your requirements, or put you in touch with a local professional that's able to do so.



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