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Common Damage to Shipping Containers

28.12.2015 - Posted by Updated On 28.12.2015    

If you're new to buying a shipping container, which most residential buyers are, it may seem like a large task to inspect a container, or at least know what to ask when learning about the condition of the container. If you're purchasing a new container, you can be very confident that the condition will be very good. There will be no major dents or dings, the doors will swing easily, and the floors won't have any gouges or damage. However, if you're purchasing a used shipping container you may need to move a little slower. For starters, if a container is in cargo worthy condition it will be in good shape, and need no changes or work to convert it into a very useful storage unit. If the container is listed in "AS IS/WHERE IS" or "damaged" condition, it may require a little effort on any number of areas - some small and only cosmetic, some may require a little more effort. The main parts to focus on when purchasing a damaged or ASIS container are the floors, doors (including the rods and locking devices), and the corner posts.

Flooring Damage in a Shipping Container

Flooring damage in a shipping container can be as simple as a delaminated floor, a gouge from a forklift or skid, or as serious as a hole or crack that needs to be patched or replaced. Repairs to flooring are typically made by patching the affected area with either sheet metal over a small section, or replacing the entire section of flooring with a new sheet of plywood.

To inspect for flooring damage take a flashlight, or leave the doors open to allow for maximum light, and walk through the entire container inspecting each sheet of plywood.

damaged container floor

Door Damage on a Shipping Container

Door damage on a shipping container can be more serious than damage to the flooring, especially if it prevents the shipping container doors from opening, closing, or locking properly. If a forklift runs into a container or some similar incident occurs the locking rods, hinges, or locking devices can be bent; which will prevent the doors from closing properly and possible make it difficult to seal and lock the containers.

Inspecting the doors on a container is relatively simple - open them, close them, and try to lock the doors. It's normal that the doors on a used shipping container require some encouragement, as they may not have been opened in several months. If the hinges are damaged, the doors may not swing smoothly, and if the rods are bent, the container doors won't lock properly.

bent locking rod

Corner Posts, Rails and Wall Damage

The corner posts and rails are the structural foundation to a shipping container, and the walls are key to keeping the stored items out of the wind and moisture, and protected from thieves. A little surface rust is normal on both the walls and the corner posts. Shipping containers are made of COR-TEN steel and a small amount of surface rust occurs naturally and is important to preventing the shipping container from rusting through.

To inspect the walls, rails and posts is a lot easier than you might think. Externally, take a walk around the container and look for any rust, dents or holes that may have been formed by a forklift or some other type of yard equipment. If any holes are seen, or spots that concern you, make a mental note of the location. Once you make the walk the entire way around the container, go inside of the container and walk directly to the front. Stare down each top and bottom rail and make sure everything is straight. Then, slowly walk to the back of the container and check for any spots (especially those that match up with the exterior spots that were noted from the outside. Finally, pull the doors closed and look for any spots of sunlight that might find their way into the container. In normal circumstances there should be no sunlight entering the container, but if you do see any it could be a serious corrosion point that needs to be addressed.

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