Shipping container repair can save you from potentially having to spend unnecessary money to replace the entire box itself. Learn more about how the repair process works and ways to insure your containers at the best price.

Container damage is sometimes unavoidable. There are factors which are completely out of our control that can lead to container damage. So, what do you do when that happens?
It all depends on the extent of the damage itself — so if your box can be repaired, it’s best to do so as soon as possible to avoid a rather hefty financial loss. However, the process can be long and tiresome, which is why container users opt for insurance to fight shy of overwhelming disputes and repair costs.

As a member of Container xChange, you’re able to insure your box against damage and total losses.
So, if you’re thinking about a backup plan for container damages and repair, you’re in the right place. Click on the banner below to learn more about how Container xChange can help you insure your box at the best price.

Insure your containers and claim damages

Why does container damage occur?

Container damage is likely to strike when containers are out of the manufacturer’s hands. Major or minor damage occurs during loading, shipping, and unloading. While some might be unpredictable, there are some common reasons for why this happens:

  • Material overstressing can cause containers to bend. It occurs especially during the stacking or stowing (loading) process.
  • Inexperienced fork lifters can drop containers, unevenly stack them, or accidentally puncture them.
  • Wrong choice of container for a certain cargo. For example, using a 20ft DC instead of a reefer to ship temperature-sensitive goods. This can cause decay and attract pests and insects and make the box unfit for the next shipment until it’s fumigated or chemically treated.
  • Overloading or uneven distribution of cargo contributes to the physical damage of a container such as cracks and holes.
  • Extreme weather conditions (heavy rainfall or condensation) at sea can lead to corrosion and rusting of containers.
  • Container contamination due to bad smell or pests from the previous cargo.

Container damages occur frequently in the shipping industry. According to Freightwaves, the most trusted provider of global supply chain market intelligence, “One out of every four containers that enter US ports sustain damage at some interchange points.” If you do the math, that’s nearly 3 million damaged shipping containers every year! The best way to combat this is to be as prepared as possible, so it’s good to know the importance of container repair.

Why is container repair important?

It’s extremely important to protect your assets wherever possible. When you make a big investment, for example, purchasing a container, you’ll need to consider the long-term effects of container damage and how repair can help lessen those effects.

Here’s a list of reasons why container repair is important:

  • To safeguard against damage to the goods
  • To lower the risk of expensive repairs
  • To increase a container’s lifespan so that it’ll cost less to maintain
  • Extend the container’s transit certification term
  • To make sure you receive the greatest value for your money if ever you want to repurpose or resell your box.

The best way to make sure a shipping container stays in excellent shape is to have frequent and mandatory inspections and perform any repairs that are required. Even though most issues arise gradually, it’s always best to identify them early on.

Check for bulges, dents, chipped paint, rust, or corrosion on the container’s flooring, walls, roof, and doors. Additionally, make sure the doors’ seals, hinges, and lock rods are in good working condition. If you’re working with a reefer container, your best bet would be to have a hired expert perform an annual inspection of the box.

Repairing and maintaining your containers can be a long process, and to get through it, it’s best to be well-informed and prepared for what’s to come.

Container repair and inspection checklist

The process of container repair can be extremely overwhelming and sometimes a little tiresome, however, it’s necessary if you want your container to be in good shape, especially if you consider it as a long-term asset to your business. So, it’s vital to both container users and shippers/carriers.

Here’s a checklist of what needs to be covered during container inspection for container repair:

Preparation Container Inspection Procedure Details
Prepare documents Record ISO inspection details: container number, inspector details, time, and date. Make sure that the container is empty.
Exterior Inspection
Doors Check hinges, linings, gaskets, rods, retainers, cams, guttering, stencils, corner posts, and fittings
Sides Top and bottom rails, corner posts, forklift pockets, and placard holder
Front ISO numbers, placard holder, corner posts/fittings, and panels
Roof ISO numbers, corner fittings, top end rail, door header topside rail, and roof panels
Bottom Corner fittings, bottom end rail, bottom side rail, door sill, cross members, and forklift tunnels
Interior Inspection
Floor Flooring, floor fasteners, threshold plate, tie-down devices, and light leaks
Roof Roof bows, roof panels, and light leaks
Sides (roadside/curbside) Plywood lining, kick rail, vertical plate, horizontal rail, and light leak
Front Inspection Plywood lining, kick plate, load-bearing surfaces, and light leaks
Pass / Fail / Final Verdict Inspector details minor and major defects. Any major defects must be immediately repaired. More than 5 minor defects indicate that the container needs repair.

With every repair comes standards and regulations. It’s important to know what this means and what are the typical standards for container repair.

Shipping container repair standards and regulations

As we’ve seen, container damage occurs more easily than we think. To reduce container damages and promote sustainability, the following repair standards have been developed by various organizations.

Institute of International Container Lessors (IICL)

In collaboration with the International Chamber of Shipping, the IICL has created a standard for container repairs. This globally accepted standard details how to properly repair every component of the container.

Unified Container Inspection & Repair Criteria (UCIRC)

According to UCIRC, damages to a container are determined on the basis of their seriousness. And damages are also classified between acceptable and unacceptable. The set limit of dents and buckles ensures that the container remains operational with the least amount of work.

The Common Interchange Criteria (CIC)

The Container Owner Association (COA) gives an overview of different damages and their respective repair methods without detailing repair procedures. The overall aim of the CIC was to help shipping lines reduce container handling and unnecessary repairs.

Approved Continuous Examination Program (ACEP)

Members of the ACEP must independently and regularly perform maintenance procedures and repairs. Also, the CSC plate will state whether a container owner is a member of the ACEP.

CSC Plate

The Container Safety Convention (CSC) was created to develop the set standards for container repair. But it was also created to guarantee the safety of human life during the stacking and transportation of containers. Once containers pass the safety test, they’ll receive a CSC plate. Here’s what a CSC plate looks like:


These standards aim to protect a high degree of safety for human life during container handling and transportation. By outlining uniform global safety standards, it makes container transportation easier.

6 common container damages and how to repair them

Considering the repair standards we’ve just covered, let’s take a closer look at how to repair common container damages.

Rust removal One of the most common repair works is rust removal. Sandblasting is the best way to remove it. However, if the rust develops beneath the paintwork, they’re welded with a new piece of steel.
Repairing container floor Shipping container floors are made of plywood which tends to wear and tear over time. The container floor is prone to scrapping, water seepage, pressure, weight, and gouging. Therefore, it would be beneficial if you replace the flooring whenever you see any cracks. Regular inspection can help detect that.
Replacing door seal Replacing old worn-out rubber seals is, in fact, one of the most important repairs done for shipping containers. Because containers must be air and watertight.
Repainting container  Normally, containers are coated with a protective layer of paint but over time, it tends to wear off and lose effectiveness. Even a minor bump or slight dent can chip away the paint. Thus, regular touch-ups are necessary to avoid flaking and rusting. 
Patching holes and fixing cracks  Rusting can lead to holes and cracks in a container. These undetected holes and cracks can damage fragile cargo. So, it’s important to identify these spots and repair them immediately. The best solution would be to use UV industrial bond strength patches instead of welding methods.
Reefer container repair Pre-trip inspections (PTI) on reefers are required. PTIs are carried out to make sure that all components are working well before the box is handed over to the shipper. 

Containers are vulnerable to pests and termites, so, fumigation is an essential part of the repair process. There are also a few repair charges that you need to be aware of:

Container repair charges

Imagine that you’ve just leased 10 one-way 40ft HC containers from China to the US. During shipment, 5 of the containers were damaged due to severely heavy cargo. Since you’ve not insured the containers, you’ll have to pay for the containers’ repairs. Let’s say that the 5 containers only sustained minor dents and cracks. Repairing these small damages itself can easily cost you US $350.

However, if you’ve insured the containers against damages and losses, you wouldn’t be liable to pay for such repairs or losses. Your insurer will be responsible to pay for all damages you’re covered for. And if your containers are lost at sea, the underwriters will be liable to pay after deducting 25% of the price of the container.

Though it may not seem like a big deal, at the end of it, container repair charges can work out to be quite a hefty amount, and this is something you’ll definitely want to avoid as much as you can. It also helps to know who’s liable for container damage.

Who is responsible for container damage?

Most often than not, the container user is almost always liable to pay for damages incurred. Even if the damage wasn’t their fault or their cargo. Initially, when you and your partner first confirm a deal, the supplier may promise to pay a small amount. This small amount would be used to pay for damages where the supplier is at fault. But unfortunately, this amount doesn’t always cover the entire cost of damages. And as a result, you have to pay for the remaining costs.

Below are common scenarios where the container user has to pay for damages:

  • Damage as a result of mishandling by loading or unloading crew, trucker, customs, or drayage company. (If a small amount for damages was agreed upon and the dispute was successful, the supplier may partially cover these costs).
  • Damage caused by extreme weather conditions and condensation.
  • Container contamination caused by rodent and insect infestations.

Container insurance is one way to save you from paying for damages and container repairs. You can escape the costs associated with unpredictable container damages. Here’s how:

Container repair and insurance on Container xChange

Oftentimes, containers sustain severe dents and punctures, which can call for floor, ceiling, or door replacements. These replacements aren’t cheap, and you’ll find yourself pulling out hundreds of dollars from your wallet.

As a member of xChange, there are three routes you can take to claim damages and manage repair costs as the user.

Here’s an overview of the three main damage protection levels for leasing requests on Container xChange:

Damage Protection Plan (DPP) DPP helps you compensate for the usual maintenance and repair of the container.
Basic Insurance Total Loss insurance can be purchased to cover your containers from constructive total loss and mysterious disappearance at sea. This basic package will cost you between US $2,50 and US $4,10 per container for 60 days, depending on the container type.
Premium insurance This package can be bought with DPP.  It includes the Total Loss Insurance as well as free IICL6 – inspection of the units and protects your containers from all impact damages. It’ll cost you from US$ 12 to US$ 140 per container for the first 60 days, depending on the container type.

At Container xChange, you can make use of our Insurance Manager and Container Control platform too. Here, you can insure all the containers you’re using outside of Container xChange.

With the container control feature, you can:

  • Receive shipment information and updates on your container
  • Track your box in near real-time
  • Cut out the middleman and reduce human intervention
  • Plan better
  • Manage admin easier and efficiently
  • Streamline container logistics and operations

All this and more! So, are you ready to use containers without worrying about hefty repair costs and lengthy processes? Reach out to one of our specialists today and they’ll gladly walk you through our entire survey, damage claim, and insurance process.

Shipping container repair: Common FAQs

How do you repair a hole in a shipping container?

The best solution to repair a hole in a container would be to use UV industrial bond strength patches instead of welding methods. You can get these at your nearest hardware store.

How do you fix a rusted shipping container?

To fix surface-level rusting, sandblasting is the best way to remove it. However, if the rust develops beneath the paintwork, they’re cut out and welded with a new piece of steel.

What is the lifespan of a shipping container

Shipping containers have an average lifespan of 25 years. This is all thanks to their design that ensures their durability when traveling by sea.