Filing cabinets are generally fairly robust products. Not surprisingly, many are purchased second-hand. Buying a second-hand filing cabinet can often be a great way of saving money, but there are several things you need to be aware before committing to a purchase.
First of all, you should check the cabinet for any damage. A little wear and tear is natural. Superficial scratches in the paintwork are unlikely to be any cause for concern. However, larger dents raise many questions. Was the cabinet accidentally dropped at some point? Did somebody try to gain access to it by force?
In the case of a fireproof filing cabinet, it is also worth checking for any damage that may have been caused by previous exposure to flames or high temperatures. Are there any patches of paintwork that appear bubbled, scorched or blackened? A fireproof filing cabinet that has suffered either impact damage or fire damage is unlikely to provide protection against fire.
Test each drawer by opening and closing it a few times with various levels of (reasonable) force and speed. Drawer handles should feel secure and firmly affixed. The drawer itself should slide smoothly back and forth. Ensure that it closes fully and securely each time. A drawer that “sticks” or won’t close flush to the others may be damaged or obstructed in some way. It also compromises the cabinet’s protective ability.
Check that the filing cabinet’s locks are in good working order. Lock and unlock the cabinet and check that each drawer responds as it should. If the cabinet is fitted with an electronic lock, make sure that each of its buttons work. Likewise, if the cabinet has a fingerprint lock, ask the seller to demonstrate that it is fully operational. Should you purchase a second-hand cabinet with either an electronic or fingerprint lock, ensure the lock is reset for you.
Anti-tip mechanisms are important safety devices fitted to many filing cabinets that prevent the cabinet from unbalancing when its drawers are opened. You can test the anti-tip mechanism by fully opening a drawer and then checking if others will open at the same time. If more than one drawer can open at once, the anti-tip device may not be working correctly. This makes the filing cabinet a potential health and safety hazard.
Purchasing a brand new filing cabinet means not having to worry about any of the above. You can be certain that the cabinet provides the fire resistance you need and that any other problems will be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Should you decide to purchase a second-hand unit, you should always buy from a reputable dealer.