If you’re hiring full service movers for a big move, don’t expect them to keep your plants alive, take down your light fixtures or move your baby grand.
There are some tasks movers usually won’t do for reasons such as expertise, liability or safety, according to Michael Keaton, senior director of communications for the American Moving & Storage Association.
So, you’ll need to do these tasks yourself, hire a professional or pay a fee for your mover to outsource the work. Every moving company is different, so get clear ahead of time on what is — or isn’t — included in your total cost.
1. Take down a chandelier.
If you want to take that antique crystal chandelier that hangs in your entryway, you’ll probably have to hire a licensed electrician to disconnect it, according to Leonard Ledford, Houston owner of WG Storage & Delivery, a company that offers “white glove” moving services, including moving luxury items. His company won’t uninstall chandeliers, wall sconces or other hardwired light fixtures, he said.
“If we did it and something went wrong, our insurance wouldn’t cover it,” Ledford said.
2. Disconnect appliances.
Your movers also likely won’t unhook your stove, washer and dryer, window A/C unit or other appliances, Keaton said. Most movers simply don’t have the expertise to do these tasks. If you don’t want to clean, unhook and prepare your appliances for the move, your mover may hire a third-party appliance servicing company, and pass the cost on to you, according to Fry-Wagner Moving & Storage. That price should be listed on your bill of lading, a piece of paper that itemizes all the moving costs.
3. Secure washers and dryers.
A licensed technician or plumber should prepare your washing machine and dryer for the move, Ledford says. That’s because the drums on washers and dryers must be properly secured before the move in order to prevent damage to the machines, according to Mayflower, a major moving and storage company. When you bought your washer, the manufacturer may have included special bolts or pins that can be used to hold the drum in place, according to Mayflower. If you don’t have them, you may have to ask your technician or buy a washing machine moving kit.
4. Uninstall satellite dishes
As the Modesto Bee points out, once you buy a satellite dish, it’s probably yours. That means it’s your responsibility to remove it from your old home, if you own the property, so the new owners won’t have to wrestle the dish or antenna off the roof. But movers won’t touch satellite dishes.
“They just don’t have the expertise,” Keaton said.
5. Transport hazardous or perishable items
Movers usually won’t take anything that could die or rot — from houseplants to perishable food — or anything dangerous. For example, the Atlas Van Lines list of moving no-no’s includes: ammonia, car batteries, chemistry sets, fire extinguishers, fireworks, household batteries, nail polish and nail polish remover, paint thinner, pesticides, propane tanks and weed killer.
495 Movers, in Rockville, MD, won’t take any items that could cause a fire or leak or spill out onto other items during the move, said company founder Nate Nadaz Segal.
“If that happened, it could cause a huge amount of damage,” Segal said.
6. Move specialty goods.
Many movers won’t move specialty items like antiques, baby grand pianos or pricy art collections, said Ledford, whose company specializes in moving such luxury items, along with normal household possessions. That’s because movers need special training in handling, packing and moving certain types of possessions.
For example, you need to know how to use a piano dolly, to make custom crates to hold art, or how to pack rare books so they can breathe.
“If you break a $200,000 Tiffany lamp that’s been passed down through the family, you’ve shattered more than just the value,” Ledford said. “That’s generations of memories.”
7. Carry guns.
Even Ledford’s company won’t transport cash, jewelry or guns because of insurance issues.
“People need to move their own valuables of that nature,” Ledford said.
Or find a specialist to do the job. For example, if you’ve got a gun collection, you might have to contact a gunsmith, who might have the proper expertise and adequate insurance.
8. Move your old diary.
You might need to move your box full of old journals, your photos of grandma and your child’s favorite teddy bear. Many movers include sentimental items on their list of “non-allowables” because they don’t want to be held responsible for damage to an irreplaceable item, according to Moving.com. Sentimental items include: address books, family photos, personal videos or DVDs and wedding albums, according to Moving.com.
A moving company should know, and be able to tell you upfront, what they can and cannot do, Ledford said.
“Standard moving companies should know their limits of expertise,” Ledford said.