Televisions are some of the trickiest items to store inside a self-storage unit. They’re often the size of furniture and appliances, but they’re much less sturdy. A TV has got a full face of fragile glass that can be ruined by a single scratch and complex interior electronic components that are vulnerable to temperature and humidity. In addition, TVs often are quite heavy. Meanwhile, newer sets are wide and thin, making it nearly impossible to put one in a standard moving box.
But don’t worry. With a few extra precautions and handy tricks, you’ll be able to make sure your TV returns from your storage unit in tip-top shape. Here’s our advice on how to store a TV.
The one thing you’ll want to do before boxing up your TV for storage is to clean it thoroughly. Your biggest enemy here is dust. Large amounts of dust can get inside your TV’s air vents and muck up the electronics inside. Even a small amount of dust can scratch your TV’s screen—just by sitting there. When moving, you’ll inevitably cause friction against your screen, and any dust between the screen and whatever is rubbing against it can create thousands of tiny scratches that will ruin your screen’s clarity.
This can be the easiest step in safely storing your TV–if you still have the original packaging, complete with protective covers, Styrofoam padding inserts, and that perfectly sized box you brought it home in. If not, packing your TV the right way is going to be much harder.
Without the static-free cover it came wrapped in, you’ll have to find another way of protecting your fragile screen. You can buy a properly sized heavy-duty dust cover to protect your TV, but these covers can be expensive. The best option using household materials is to wrap your TV in soft, thick blankets or comforters. These will protect your TV from dust as well as offer padding to protect against the inevitable bumps and falls that accompany every move. There shouldn’t be any hard or rough parts of the blanket like buttons, zippers or rough thread making contact with the screen. You’ll probably want to secure the blankets around your TV with bungee cord or rope.
Even once swaddled in blankets, you’ll still probably want to slide your TV into a cardboard box, as blankets won’t protect your TV screen from the hardest hits in the way thick cardboard will. Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap and foam wrap never are bad ideas for extra protection, as long as the TV first is wrapped well in a blanket or dust sleeve.
While an old, cube-shaped CRT TV likely will fit perfectly into any standard moving box, today’s thin, wide plasma, LCD and LED TVs certainly will not. Fortunately, many storage facilities sell boxes made just for modern TVs. Call ahead and ask your facility whether it offers such boxes. It might even be worth visiting the facility to pick up a box before you move in. That way, you can pack the TV before you arrive at the facility.
Finally, before you slide your TV into its box, remember that modern TVs often come on stands. Make sure to remove the stand before putting the TV inside a box. While you’re doing that, check to see whether any cords can be removed.
No matter how well you’ve packed your TV, you’ll still need to carefully consider the environment you’re keeping it in. Both hot and cold temperatures are dangerous for your TV. The greatest danger is humidity, which can cause moisture to build up in your TV’s electronic components. Extreme cold, on the other hand, can cause parts of your TV to warp. This is particularly dangerous when the temperature in your storage unit rapidly changes. The best way to protect your TV from temperature and humidity is to rent a climate-controlled storage unit.
Desiccant pouches (the little pouches filled with silica beads you often find in electronics packaging) will help protect against humidity by absorbing moisture in the air. These can be used as an extra measure of protection, but not as a substitute for climate control in areas where there’s high humidity. You can buy desiccant pouches at electronics stores.
All your efforts of cleaning, packing and finding the right environment for your TV will be undone if you pack it improperly into your storage unit. Never store your TV in a way that puts any pressure on the screen, which almost always means that your TV should be stored upright, in the same position you keep it at home. Storing your TV screen-down is always a bad idea. Storing it with the screen facing up will work only if you make sure not to stack anything on top of it.
Even when the TV is stored upright, you need to ensure there won’t be any pressure put on the screen itself. One good idea is to slide the TV between two of the largest, heaviest items in your storage unit. That way, there’s less of a chance you’ll accidentally crush the screen with a loose, errant box while shifting things around. Wide, flat surfaces like the backs of sofas, headboards and bookshelves work well, as do table tops with the legs removed. They won’t be facing the screen with any corners that can act as pressure points that may accidentally crack your screen. You’ll want to leave a few inches of space between your TV and other items in the unit.