Does My Shipping Container Need Ventilation?
May 2021

Does My Shipping Container Need Ventilation?

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Whether you are using your shipping container to store or ship items, they provide a versatile, dependable structure for safe storage. However, depending on what you are storing, you might need to consider the type of container you need.

In some cases, for example, your shipping container might require ventilation. In fact, often a ventilated shipping container is preferred even if what you are shipping or storing doesn’t require ventilation. This is because if it was previously used, it could contain strong odour residue from previously stored items.

Here we review the different reasons you might need ventilation for your shipping containers and the shipping container engineering customers might need to customize their storage.

Ventilation Types for Shipping Containers

When considering ventilation for your shipping container you basically have four choices:

  1. Rooftop turbine vents: As the name implies, these vents are installed on the roof to help manage fumes that tend to rise. They use a fan to manage airflow. However, they won’t work if you plan to stack your containers as the fan is located at the top.
  2. Fixed louvre vent: A louvre has the same look as wood slat shutters. The louvre vent doesn’t use a fan like a turbine vent but instead, depends on regular airflow. They offer an affordable option and can be placed anywhere.
  3. Exhaust fan: Like the rooftop turbine, the exhaust fan uses a fan to circulate air but it can be placed anywhere. If you need to stack containers and want ventilation, the exhaust fan is a good option as they are also smaller than the turbine version.
  4. Foundation ventilation: Foundation or crawl space ventilation is required to help avoid issues with condensation and moisture. This is especially important if you are storing your container directly on a raised foundation such as concrete. These foundations do not allow for proper airflow below your container.

    If your storage container is left in an area where water can pool, you have an increased risk of getting rust in the floor. Vents can provide a proper air floor for your foundation and are ideal for colder climates like Ontario. They are fitted with protective mesh that maintains foundation airflow while keeping pests and insects from entering the container.

When choosing the best ventilation type, consider whether or not you need to stack your shipping containers, how the items are stored within the container to plan proper vent placement and what you will be storing to determine where air flow must be managed.

What items need ventilation?

The following items require ventilation when being shipped or stored in a shipping container:

  • Household Items: Heat and moisture can damage many household items commonly put into storage. This is because when moisture is allowed to build up it can create issues such as mould and mildew growth. Mould and mildew can cause serious, irreversible damage especially on soft items such as furniture and clothing, as well as paper goods.

    By installing ventilation, you provide proper air circulation so you don’t allow excess moisture to lead to mould and mildew growth. Even if this isn’t a problem, there is another risk – soft items can also easily absorb odours. So depending on what was previously stored in the container, in hand with the possibility of some strong odours in the location where the container is stored, odours could cling to your items permanently. The improved airflow helps keep the air fresh and reduces the risk for odours.

  • Dry Goods: Dry goods are called dry goods for a reason. They must remain dry or they can actually rot and spoil. They are very susceptible to mould and mildew growth in moist conditions. This can be a costly loss if you store your dry goods in a space with poor ventilation.

    As mentioned, proper ventilation removes excess moisture from the air. With a ventilated shipping container you don’t have to worry about rotting goods as you’ll help maintain a cooler, safer temperature as well. Shipping containers in general are a good choice for dry goods because they are pest resistant due to their steel structure.

  • Vehicles/Heavy Machinery: While machinery and vehicles are built to last, improper storage can help them age a lot faster. Poor circulation and extreme temperatures can contribute to the deterioration of components of your machinery and vehicles. This in turn interferes with proper function and performance. Ideally, these large items should be stored in a space with proper air circulation and milder temperatures.

    A ventilated storage container will help protect your equipment and vehicles from temperature extremes and moisture. Moisture is especially concerning as it can promote rusting as well as mould growth that can bung up the system. This type of damage will cost much more to repair compared to investing in ventilation for your storage container.

  • Chemicals/Pressurized Gases: Storing chemicals and gases can be extremely dangerous if not managed properly. First, most chemicals have special storage requirements by law, including proper ventilation. It is very important to make sure you understand the regulations surrounding storing chemicals and pressurized gases, so you don’t put yourself and others in the area in danger. Many substances have certain regulations stipulating they have to be stored at special facilities and cannot be confined to enclosed spaces like containers.

    Second, pressurized gases are highly volatile and must be stored in a ventilated storage container. However, depending on what is pressurized, you also have to comply with any laws and regulations related to storage.

    In almost all cases you will find they must be stored at a safe temperature as well as in a properly ventilated space. This is because pressurized containers can explode when exposed to high temperatures. As a result, you might not only need to ensure proper ventilation but also add climate control features to your container.

These examples are just a small sampling of the common storage situations that require ventilation. Before you invest in your storage container, be certain you understand whether ventilation is recommended to avoid costly damage to your belongings.

If you have a container project that requires design and engineering, the team at SCC offers a one-stop solution for your container project needs.If you would like to know more about Ontario shipping container engineering and design, call Sigma Containers at 855-340-3342 or contact us here.

Tom Bray is a freelance writer with over five years experience writing for online publications and over ten years in business and sales. He studied journalism and media and has written for various online outlets on multiple topics. His specialty subjects are shipping containers and transport logistics.

Tom’s passion for writing and transport logistics motivates him to provide frequent direct marketing content that can show you how a shipping container can be effectively utilized and modified to each person’s needs.

You can connect with Tom via email at