Modern Australian Magazine

Common Repairs to Shipping Containers

  • Written by News Co

Used shipping containers often need some type of upkeep and repair. Many of these containers come off ships and sit in ports, then are moved to a final destination or are unloaded and left to sit for extended periods of time. As with anything, if the container is not being used it will start to deteriorate and break down. Most container repairs required are minor and help to ensure that a unit is sealed against wind and water. Containers that have any type of major structural damage should not be re-used and most used shipping container dealers will not sell or rent these types of units.

The most common repairs to shipping containers include:

Door Repairs:

Most container doors will experience some type of issue that requires repair. After many years of use, doors can become stiff, making them harder to open. It can become very difficult to operate a standard container door set by trying to open the locking bar handles. A common fix is to utilize a mix of gases and burn off the old materials around the hinges and then apply a fresh coat of grease to ensure that the doors can easily open. If the locking bar handles are broken, they can be replaced with new ones.

Sometimes doors are not shutting correctly, and this is due to the fact that a loaded container can shift so that it is not sitting correctly. If the container is sitting even 1/4” out it can make opening the doors nearly impossible. The best way to fix this is to readjust the doors and shore up the bottom of the container. One corner can be lifted slightly with a car jack and then once lifted a block can be placed to hold the container up. Once the container is shored up and level it should make opening the doors easier.

If door seals and lock rods are broken this can affect the doors and how they open. Old seals can be removed and replaced with new ones. Lock rods can bend or break quite easily and those can be replaced along with the keepers that hold the lock rod in place.

Wall and Roof Damage:

Sometimes people will purchase a shipping container and hang signs on the container by drilling screw holes into the side walls of the container. Shelving that is installed inside the container is also secured by drilling holes in to container walls. This can cause damage to the container panels and the inside contents can be damaged with water being able to get into the container. These panels can be repaired with some simple welding or if the damage covers a large area, large pieces can be cut out and the panel can be replaced.

Floors in Need of Repair:

The floor of a shipping container is made of plywood which is easily replaced. Treated plywood helps to prevent moisture from getting into the container. Flooring sections can be attached to the cross members which are located beneath the floor supports. When you examine the floor, you can easily see where the cross members attach to the plywood. The flooring can be removed by unscrewing the fasteners and then laying down new flooring sections and attaching them. It is important to obtain the same thickness of flooring so that the floor is level throughout the container.


Used containers do not always have proper ventilation. The vents in shipping containers are designed to allow air to move through the container without allowing rain to get into the container. If shipping containers do not have the proper vents, these can easily be installed.

Locks / Lockboxes:

While this is not technically a repair, this is a commonly completed task on shipping containers. Most people purchase used shipping containers and want to have the best security features installed so that the contents of their container are safeguarded against theft. Lockboxes and puck lockboxes are some of the more common forms of protection for containers.


Containers in holes need to be repaired as soon as they are discovered. This is because any moisture that gets into the container can cause a lot of damage. The hole can be welded, or it can be patched. Pinholes are the easiest to weld but if the damage is more extensive then large sections need to be cut out and replaced with large pieces of steel. This type of repair necessitates a certain amount of skill with a welder, but it is simple to hire a welder to complete this work for you.

Some people take care of shipping container repairs on their own while others hire people to take care of them on their behalf. Many shipping container dealers take care of these repairs before they sell or rent the containers, but it is important for you to do your due diligence to ensure that the container that you purchase or rent is completely ready to go without the need for any specific repairs. Some dealers will purchase used shipping containers back from people at a lower rate and make the repairs so that the shipping container is in better condition and is able to be used by another prospective buyer or renter.

Images from Tiger Containers

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