Used shipping containers are gaining popularity for repurposing into storage units, backyard offices, pools, and more. Their durability and customizable nature makes them a great option for unique projects. However, before purchasing a used container it’s absolutely essential to thoroughly inspect its condition first. You’ll want to carefully check for any major structural damage, rust, or other issues that could prevent the container from being fully sound.

Conducting a proper, comprehensive inspection provides confidence that the used container you select will suit your specific needs. It also helps avoid unwelcome surprises down the road, after you’ve already transported and begun modifying the unit. When examining a used shipping container, be sure to methodically assess the exterior, interior, roof, doors, seals, and any special components like refrigeration units or electrical systems. 

This article provides an overview of what to look for when judging the overall quality and safety of a used shipping container prior to purchase.

Inspect the Outside of the Container

This is one of the first areas of the container you must inspect and you can do this by walking around the container to look at the general condition of the unit. It is very normal for used shipping containers to have small dents and patches and minor corrosion, especially if the unit is more than ten years old. For some clients, these details will not matter but if appearance is important for you, you may want to look for a container with less panel damage. This is especially true if you will be placing your container in a location where it will be visible to the public.

Look at the CSC Plate

This is located on the left container door and is secured to the container by the manufacturer. This plate contains manufacturing information including the production date of the container and you must review this information and reference it against the general condition of the unit to determine if it makes sense. If you notice excessive wear and tear given the age of the container, you may want to question this information and look for another used shipping container.

Check the corners and seams of the container

The seams should not be exposed and there should be no cracking on the welds. If you detect any cracks or other weak points, take this matter seriously as this can affect the security of the unit and its structural integrity, both of which are very concerning.

Make Sure the Doors Open and Close Relatively Smoothly

Check the locking bars to see if they can accommodate a padlock if there is no secure lockbox. A lockbox is not standard on a used container and is an add-on and you must keep this in mind. A padlock will ensure your contents can be stored safely and will also minimize the possibility of theft and exposure to the elements.

Step Inside the Container to Inspect the Floor

Most container floorboards are made of marine grade plywood and its appearance can change over time and they may retain moisture. Light damage is normal but you must inspect the floor of the container to make sure it is straight and to ensure the wood is not rotted. 

Gently Close the Doors of the Container While You Are Inside

In this step, you can inspect the walls and roof for cracks or pinholes, and if you see light coming in, you may want to consider another used shipping container since water may seep in as well as wind.

Inspect the Roof

The roof of the container must be relatively straight and free of waving or other deformations. In most cases, you won’t have to access the roof to complete this inspection because its condition will be visible from the ground.

Other Important Information

If you are inspecting an insulated container, you must inspect where the refrigeration unit once was because these containers were at one point refrigerated containers that have had their refrigeration unit removed. A hole will have been left behind and this should have been sealed off with either plywood or a piece of aluminum and you need to make sure the seals are intact to prevent light from coming through.

It is also important to test out the temperature controls if the container you are inspecting is a refrigeration unit. You must set the desired temperature required once the unit is hooked up to the electrical source to verify that the refrigeration unit is functional and capable of maintaining the temperature.

To Summarize

Thoroughly inspecting a used shipping container inside and out before purchase is crucial. While some minor imperfections are expected, you want to ensure there is no major structural damage or issues with doors and seals that would prevent the container from being sound. Taking the time to carefully check the exterior, interior, roof, and special components provides confidence that your used container is a smart long-term investment, ready for transport and repurposing. With proper inspection, you can breathe new life into a used shipping container for many years to come.

Boxtainer: Your Source for Inspected & Approved Used Shipping Containers

Are you interested in buying a shipping container? Boxtainer is ready to provide you with more information! We have shipping containers for sale and for rent and provide customers with shipping containers they can rely on. 

Our experts know exactly what to look for when checking for structural soundness, wear and tear, and any damage. We take pride in guiding our customers through the inspection process to ensure you find a high-quality used container ready for repurposing. 

With over 15 years of experience providing container solutions, Boxtainer has the skills to help you avoid any pitfalls when purchasing a pre-owned container. Contact us today to learn more about our shipping containers!