When doing a major move, there’s no pride in trying to do too much, and breaking your stuff, and/or yourself.
No matter what you’re moving, it’s probably best to hire moving professionals. They are skilled and experienced, and are much less likely than you to damage large or precious items when moving stuff from one home to another.
True, they are probably going to cost a little more than the dinner and a six-pack you were going to pay your friends to help.
But a properly licensed and insured moving company guarantees replacement or repair if an item – or part of one of the houses – is damaged.
That being said – not everyone is going to do this.
For those intrepid do-it-yourselfers who pride themselves on saving money in the face of risk – here are some tips about moving large furniture.
Draw it up
The best way to start is to draw up a plan.
When moving items out of the home, it is helpful to have a plan written out for how each item will go in the moving truck or whatever transport has been chosen.
Drawing a map of the inside of the “target” home and the location where every item will be placed can really speed up the job.
Determine the order and a “game plan” for each item being moved.
Don’t get me wrong. A written plan will not necessarily convince your friends to help you, but it’s a start. They may not be your friends when this is over, anyway.
Do the slide
Empty everything out of drawers first and they will be lighter and easier to manipulate. This also avoids having a drawer pop open during the move and spilling – or striking someone somewhere unfortunate.
Follow this simple rule, and you will never move something without emptying it again. It may seem like extra work, but it’s usually not.
And don’t forget about the self-mover’s best friends: “The slide.”
There are many heavy items you should not attempt to lift, or at least not often. Use towels or cardboard to help slide heavy objects around the room, unless of course, the furniture has wheels.
Sometimes pulling works better than pushing. Do whatever you can to avoid lifting, including experimenting with sliding.
There are also many products on the market to help slide items around. The best ones are very durable, and really increase the sliding capacity.
If you must lift, bend your knees and use your powerful leg muscles to lift, not your back. Keep loads very close to your body.
One of the most underused and underappreciated tools in the world is the simple moving dolly, a flat, horizontal cart with four wheels. Some have raised handles.
The dolly is usually reserved for your wider and more unwieldy items, like TVs, entertainment centers or heavy bureaus. Getting them up on the dolly is usually more difficult than anything else. The key is having enough lifters to get it on there. Once it’s balanced, it’s a much simpler proposition. Until you get it to the stairs.
The moving dolly is often confused with the hand truck, which is an L-shaped hand cart with handles at one end, wheels at the base and a small ledge near the bottom on which to set the object to be moved.
The very best of the hand trucks incorporate a small set of wheels at the handle side of the truck, so you have a sort of combination dolly/hand truck.
For taller, narrower appliances, like refrigerators or washers, it’s usually better to use a hand truck. Most come with a handy strap that extends from the handles. Once you have the hand truck’s ledge under the item, secure the strap around its center. Don’t twist the strap!
Then simply tip the hand truck back on its wheels. Many larger items will require the assistance of one or two other people for guidance. Some hand trucks have a pair of auxiliary wheels to help tote items up or down stairs.
Tall and awkward
You can also use a hand truck to move tall, lightweight items, like dressers or filing cabinets, but it’s usually more practical just to carry them.
With two people, tip these items backward and at an angle to center weight. One person should hold the item at one end from the floor side, and the other person should hold the item from the other end on the ceiling side, to keep it from swinging around. The carrying angle should match the angle of a set of standard stairs.
Always one of the most exciting adventures in moving, the couch carry is also the most fraught with danger.
Moving couches may have been the origin of Murphy’s Law – you know the one: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”
Even if it looks like the couch will swing right around corners, through doors and upstairs, it almost certainly isn’t going to be that easy – those who have spent at least an hour in a stairwell with a couch can attest to this. And that’s a lot of people.
Planning is VERY important. Don’t take chances. Remove the legs, cushions and other protruding hardware. These things could get stuck on the wall or railings on the way up, and also add a foot or more to a couch’s width. Cover the sofa with moving blankets to minimize scratching and aid in sliding when sliding is appropriate.
Use a dolly if possible. This will help take strain off of the back muscles, which work very hard on both ends of a couch during a stair maneuver.
It seems like some people have a magical “eye” for seeing how to angle things through and around immovable barriers, and they probably do. But the eyes deceive, and numbers don’t lie. Please measure both the couch and the stair opening to make sure the couch will fit.
Take a tip from the moving experts, and always set a couch on one end before you try to move it through a door.
Setting the couch on end gives you a true sense of how long the thing actually is. If it’s taller than the doorway, slant the high part away from the door to gain a few inches of clearance. Now you should be able to find the right angle and “hook” it through.
Just hump it
Shoulder straps, or “hump straps” are some more of the great and unheralded tools of the moving industry. Taking the strain off your back by using leverage and large muscle groups, straps leave your hands free to maneuver awkward items. They can be tricky on the stairs because the weight is shifted almost entirely to the person on the downhill side.
Sitting and sweating after the move, drinking that six-pack of beer you bought for yourself and your friends, reflect on the amount of actual stress caused, and time and money spent here.
Certainly there is a sense of satisfaction with a job done. And that scratch on your new leather couch doesn’t look too bad.
Too bad, as well, that you will have to pay for its repair or replacement yourself, because you didn’t go with a mover.
No matter what you decide to do, save all your receipts and make sure to claim your move (if possible) on your tax return.