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January 22, 2024

Moving Tips for Efficiency, Heavy Objects, and Safety

Reviewed By: Benjamin Johnson, Sr. Director of Operations, Atlas Van Lines - 10+ Years in the Moving Industry

Moving Tips for Efficiency, Heavy Objects, and Safety
Whether you are moving one mile or a thousand miles, there are always ways to make your relocation experience more efficient, safe, and to properly move those cumbersome objects in your home. 

Let us take a closer look at items you should pack yourself, expert moving tips, moving safety, and ways to properly move heavy objects, like a refrigerator or hot tub. 

Items You Will Want to Move Yourself

When it comes time to finish packing up and head to your new home, there are certain items that no movers can bring on their trucks. Non-allowables, like car batteries, liquid bleach, scuba tanks, and weed killer, can all threaten the safety of your other possessions, your movers, and your family.

However, that is not the only category of items you should consider moving yourself. Certain personal possessions, whether due to their especially high monetary or sentimental value, are best personally handled with care by you on moving day. 

Professional movers are happy to safely transport your personal objects, but it is often better in terms of peace of mind to take on the task yourself. Let us look at some examples and advice for keeping those items safe and sound.

High-Value Items

From jewelry to art or cash, certain items have a high monetary value. You already know which items you keep secure in a safe spot, and for most people, these items do not take up too much room. 

That makes them easy to transport once moving day arrives, assuming you follow a few important steps to keep them safe. While every situation is different, these suggestions can help you ensure your most expensive belongings successfully make the trip:
  •  Pack them in secure containers, taking special care of potentially fragile items like jewelry and works of art.
  • Obscure the contents of the boxes in which you pack them to avoid advertising what is inside. This is especially important on longer moves when you will likely make stops during your trip.
  • Similarly, do not label the boxes with any wording that is too specific.
  • If driving, keep them as secure as possible by placing them in the back of the trunk, behind other boxes and items.
  • Bring any high-value items inside if spending the night on the road, or keep them in your carry-on luggage if you are flying. 

Family Heirlooms

Sometimes expensive, sometimes not, heirlooms have an entirely different kind of value: sentimental and specific to your family. Whether it is a bone China set in the family for generations, a photo album full of memories, or something much more unique, these items are full of important memories. 

Because they are often fragile, small, or otherwise easy to damage, you will feel a greater sense of security by transporting them yourself. While the movers and packers at Atlas are confident in their ability to ensure a safe trip for any possession, having full control over your family heirlooms for the duration of the move can be comforting.

When it comes to moving heirlooms, your best bet is to plan ahead and test out packing techniques to be sure your irreplaceable items will be safe throughout your travels. 

Take a short test drive around the neighborhood and consider how you will load and unload the heirlooms from your car as well. With this kind of preparation, you can make sure everything arrives at your new home in one piece.

Expert Moving Tips for Efficiency 

Moving day is the culmination of major efforts to get everything boxed up, secured, and ready for the trip to your new home. It is often a long day filled with hard work, too. So how can you make moving day easier and simpler? Consider these tips.

1. Lighten the Load Before Your Move

Part of the cost of a move relates to the distance traveled, which means you have that aspect well covered. However, the number of items moved, as well as their weight, also play an important role. 

To avoid unnecessary spending, lighten your load. Sell, donate, give away, and recycle things you do not need. A yard sale is a great place to start. 

2. Booking Your Move Away from Peak Times

Have you ever found a great deal on a vacation by booking your trip during a traditionally less popular time for tourism at your destination? You can save money on moving in a very similar manner. 

Instead of booking your move on the weekend and at the beginning or end of the month, look for dates that work for you during the middle of those times. A weekday move during the second or third week of the month is usually less busy for moving companies.

The exact amount you will save depends on where and when you move.  However, choosing off-season months or odd points in the month can yield significant savings.
There is more to the standard moving hacks than you might suspect.

Here are three common truths of the moving experience and why they are worth a second look.

3. Enlist Help Beyond Lifting

The conventional wisdom is all well and good if you are acquainted with a bunch of muscle-bound triathletes. What about those of us who are moving with family members, some of whom might be quite young or quite advanced in age?

They can all help, and sometimes they can be total lifesavers! If you are moving with young kids, maybe you could ask one of their fun older cousins to spend time with them during the day, freeing you up to pack, lift, and haul the family's belongings. 
You might have an older parent who cannot hoist a sofa anymore, but they might have the keen spatial reasoning needed to pack efficiently, limiting your overall back-and-forth.

Think creatively about how the people around you can pitch in and show them you are grateful in a way that resonates with them. 

4. Plan Your Trip

Even if you are only moving one mile, your "last mile," from the van door to your front door, could present challenges if you do not plan ahead.

For starters, many shared buildings have designated times during which new residents can load and unload. Make sure you clear that hurdle. You may also need to reserve a freight elevator or time in the loading zone.

If you are driving a large vehicle you are not used to, make sure you know the spaces you will have to navigate, including any narrow alleys or tight corners. You do not need to add last-minute anxiety to your moving-day adrenaline.


5. Take Initiative When Packing

You are well-versed in padding the breakables. You have small boxes for your books. But what about those items you do not think about much?

If you are moving things that could potentially leak fluid, you will want to drain them well in advance, especially heavy-duty items with oil and gasoline. Drain your lawn mower, snow blower, or other gas-powered tools and small vehicles well in advance of your move. The same goes for hoses and gardening equipment, too.

6. Be Prepared for Weather

The timing of your move might require you to make some contingency plans. If it is a winter move, have tarps handy, as well as shovels and tools for dealing with icy roads and walkways and for clearing snow away from passageways. 

If it is particularly hot and sunny, be ready with ice packs or washcloths to help you cool down. Have sunblock handy if you need it.

7. Hire a Moving Company for Packing and Lifting

Not only is do-it-yourself (DIY)moving time-consuming, but it is also dangerous. Large furniture and cumbersome appliances are not easy to move. If you have ever struggled downstairs with a couch bearing down on you, you know it is a risky situation. 

Avoid a potential injury and broken item by allowing professional movers to handle your belongings. They have the equipment and expertise to move the bulky furniture you have in your house.

Some questions to ask of potential movers include:
  • Do you have the necessary insurance? 
  • Do you have a U.S. Department of Transportation number? 
  • Are you certified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to transport household goods? 

8. Employ Plastic Wrap

Certain items can already serve as the perfect packing box, but without a lid, you might feel like you need to remove the items. 

For instance, dresser drawers provide plenty of space for storing clothes and other items, but when you remove them from the dresser, they no longer have anything to keep the clothing inside. 

This is where plastic wrap can be useful. Simply leave the items inside the drawers and then use the plastic to surround the drawer and lock everything in. You can also use plastic wrap to keep liquids from leaking during the relocation. 

9. Keep Your Kids Busy

Trying to prepare for a move with kids around can make things run more slowly. Avoid this by keeping your kids distracted while you are packing and getting things organized. 

This could mean hiring a babysitter to play games with your children in another room or simply finding a way for your kids to help. 

For instance, you could give them the task of organizing their toys or preparing an overnight bag. They will enjoy being a part of the excitement, and it will keep them busy while you work on other tasks.

10. Know Where You Are Going and When You Will Get There

Whether the trip to your new home is 15 minutes or 1,500 miles, it pays to have a timetable, travel plan, and similar information on hand for moving day. 

For very short moves, you may not need a detailed route or timeline. It can be enough to know how long it takes to get there and when you plan on arriving. 
For longer trips, spending a little time mapping the route and determining if and when to stop - especially important when you travel with pets, young children, and elderly family members - is vital. 


11. Have a First-Night Bag Ready

A lack of easy access to your belongings is one downside of the days immediately after a move. Most of your belongings are packed up and hard to reach, to one degree or another. 

To combat that limitation, pack a first-night bag. Include toiletries, clothes, bedding, towels, any medicines you may take, and other essentials. Planning ahead - and packing similar bags for your children, if needed - means you are ready to enjoy your first few days in your new house.

12. Plan Ahead and Prepare

While some moves have to happen quickly, many involve some lead time that can be put to good use. If you use a professional, reliable packing service, this major obligation will be taken care of for you - you just need to handle the items movers cannot bring on their trucks. 

If you decide to fill boxes yourself, get to work early and try to do a little each day. If you can have everything that is not used on a daily basis boxed up a few days before the move, you will have far less to worry about. 

Getting everything settled after a long-distance move means paying attention to many different details.

13. Get to Know Your New Area Beforehand

A new area - or city, county, or state - can have large differences from your current home. Use these questions as starting points:
  • Does the city handle garbage pickup?
  • Do they have sewer service, or is there a septic tank that needs to be periodically emptied?
  • Which companies provide electricity? Is there a less-expensive alternative to consider?
  • What are your internet and cable TV options? Is there more than one provider, and do any offer a deal that aligns well with your needs?

14. Be Rested and Ready to Go

There is a large amount of excitement and sometimes stress before a move. It can be hard to get a restful night of sleep before the big day, but that does not mean you should not try. 

Budget for a full eight hours of rest to get off on the right foot. You should also make sure you and your family can grab breakfast and coffee. A clear head and a full stomach go a long way toward making moving day less worrisome and more productive. 


Moving Safety Tips

Responsible packing is only the first step toward safe moving. If you have all your breakables neatly padded, your boxes full - but not too heavy - and your cargo arranged carefully for smooth loading and unloading, you need to make sure that you handle your belongings safely, too.

Nobody wants a last-minute run to the emergency room on moving day. At best, it is an inconvenience. At worst, it can have serious implications for your quality of life.

The National Safety Council reported that over 38 million medically consulted injuries occurred annually over the past few years in individuals’ homes and communities. 
Do not add to that tally during your move. Here are moving safety tips to keep you and your possessions safe.

1. Have a First Aid Kit Available

Make sure you are prepared. That starts with having a first aid kit handy throughout the moving period, not buried in the bottom of one of five boxes labeled "miscellaneous." You should be able to treat any minor scrapes and cuts immediately.

2. Prepare the Pathway

Secure the physical pathway from your home to your waiting vehicle. Make sure all trip hazards are cleared away. 

If you are moving out of a crowded multiunit building, alert your neighbors so they can be conscientious of the route, and use the service stairs or elevator if your building has them. The less chance you have to bump into other people or objects, the better.

3. Lift with Your Legs

When it comes to lifting and hoisting, be careful about how you pick up boxes and heavy objects. If you have to pick something up off the floor, keep your back straight, not hunched, and bend your knees as if you are crouching. 

Then lift straight up, powered by your legs. This will keep you from straining your back as you lift and keep you balanced.

4. Carry Smartly

As you carry objects across a clear path, do not overexert yourself. Carry only what you can comfortably manage and make more trips if you need to. Walk slowly and maintain clear lines of sight whenever you can, holding boxes close to your body.

Also, use tools to help you as much as possible. Hand trucks, dollies, glides, and straps were invented just for this purpose. Take advantage of them whenever you can.

5. Share the Load

At the bare minimum, large, disassembled furniture pieces often require two people to carry them. Communicate clearly when you are carrying something with another person. Talk about how you expect to maneuver the piece and take breaks if either of you gets physically or emotionally tired.

When you pass an object to another person, do not let go until you are certain they can accept the weight. Seek verbal confirmation to make sure it does not get dropped.


6. Take Extra Precautions When Driving

If you have rented a moving truck and you are driving it yourself, chances are you are not used to the size of such a vehicle. Know the height of your truck, plot out your route in advance, and make sure that there are no low bridges or overhangs on the way. 

Pay special attention to any tight corners and alleys you will have to navigate. If it is possible, choose a low-traffic time to arrive at your new home in case there are any last-mile issues.

7. Keep Important Things Close By

Whether you are making a cross-country move or traveling to your new home across town, there are some things you will want and need to keep close by. 

If you or a family member needs to have easy access to a prescription in an emergency or has to regularly take doses of a given medicine throughout the day, you need to ensure quick access to it. 

In general, we recommend carrying any needed medicine inside the family car, as well as other valuables like personal documents, jewelry, and personal electronics.

There are other similar considerations to make, too. Do your kids have a favorite toy or prized possession they cannot bear to be without? Do not let it get packed up and out of their reach. 

8. Pack Safely

Atlas's experienced, professional movers put any concerns about safely transporting your possessions to rest. When you have Atlas pack up your belongings before hitting the road, you can be sure your possessions are safe and secure from the get-go. 

If you decide to pack yourself, make sure to wrap fragile items in protective material, limit the overall weight of boxes to prevent breakage.

Moving Large Items

Moving large items, like a fridge or a hot tub, can be a strenuous task - especially if you are not prepared or do not have the proper tools. It can be physically challenging and even dangerous if not done properly. 

However, with the right techniques and equipment, moving heavy furniture can be made much easier and safer. 

When moving any large, heavy object, it is important to assess the size and weight of the item before attempting to move it. If the furniture is too heavy or cumbersome to move on your own, it is best to enlist the help of professional movers or friends. 

It is also important to clear the path and remove any obstacles that could get in the way while moving the furniture or cause tripping hazards. Wearing appropriate clothing and shoes is recommended to avoid any accidents or injuries during the move. By following these tips and taking the necessary precautions, you have the ability to move your heavy furniture safely and efficiently.  


Moving a Fridge

Moving a refrigerator can seem like a nearly impossible task. But with the right tools, you can safely move your fridge without damaging the appliance or hurting yourself. Here are some tips on how to move a refrigerator safely. 
  1. Prepare the Fridge - Before you begin moving your fridge, you need to prepare it for transport. First, empty the fridge and freezer contents, and dispose of any perishable items. You can donate any unopened, non-perishable items to a local food bank or shelter. Once you have cleared out the fridge, unplug it and let it defrost for 24 hours. This will ensure that there is no ice buildup that could damage the appliance during the move.
  2. Gather the Right Equipment - To move a fridge safely, you will need the right equipment, such as:
    1. A dolly or hand truck
    2. Moving blankets or padding
    3. Straps or bungee cords to secure the fridge in place
    4. You may also need a wrench or screwdriver to detach any parts that may be attached to the fridge.
  3. Measure Doorways and Hallways - Before you start moving the fridge, measure the doorways, hallways, and any other narrow passages through which you will need to move the appliance. Make sure the fridge will fit through these spaces without getting stuck. If the fridge is too large to fit through a doorway, you may need to remove the doors or hinges to create more space.
  4. Use a Dolly or Hand Truck - A dolly or hand truck is the easiest and safest way to move a fridge. Place the dolly next to the fridge and tilt the fridge towards you so the back of the appliance rests against the dolly. Strap the fridge to the dolly using bungee cords or straps. Once the fridge is secure, tilt the dolly back so the fridge is standing upright on the wheels. You can now push the dolly to its destination.
  5. Protect the Fridge - To protect the fridge during the move, wrap it in moving blankets or padding. This will prevent scratches and dents from occurring during the move. Use duct tape or packing tape to secure the padding in place.
  6. Secure the Fridge in the Moving Truck - Once you have reached the moving truck, carefully load the fridge onto the truck. Make sure the fridge is positioned in a way that will not allow it to tip over during transport. Strap the fridge to the truck using bungee cords or straps to secure it in place.
  7. Unload the Fridge - When unloading the fridge, reverse the process you used to load it onto the truck. Make sure you have enough help to safely move the fridge off the truck and into its new location.

Moving a Hot Tub

Moving a hot tub can be a challenging and labor-intensive process. It requires careful planning and preparation, as well as specialized equipment. If you are planning to move a hot tub, here are some tips on how to do it safely and efficiently. 
  1. Plan - Start by measuring the hot tub and the areas through which it will be moved. Make sure you have enough space to maneuver the hot tub and that the route is clear of obstacles. Determine the most efficient way to move the hot tub and gather the necessary equipment and materials.
  2. Enlist Help – Moving a hot tub is a team effort. Enlist the help of at least three able-bodied individuals – preferably moving experts, such as Atlas. Make sure everyone is aware of the plan and the safety precautions. Assign specific roles and responsibilities to each person to ensure efficiency.
  3. Drain the Hot Tub - Before moving the hot tub, it must be drained of all water. Use a submersible pump to drain the water from the hot tub. 
  4. Disconnect the Electrical and Plumbing - The hot tub must be disconnected from all electrical and plumbing connections. Turn off the power to the hot tub at the breaker panel and disconnect the power cord. If the hot tub is hard-wired, contact a licensed electrician to disconnect the wiring. Turn off the water supply and disconnect the plumbing connections.
  5. Use Specialized Equipment - Moving a hot tub requires specialized equipment, such as a hot tub dolly or a hydraulic lift. These tools are designed to move heavy objects safely and efficiently. The hot tub must be lifted onto the dolly or lift and secured in place with straps.
  6. Transport the Hot Tub - Transport the hot tub to its new location using a trailer or a truck with a flatbed. Make sure the hot tub is secured to the trailer or truck using straps or bungee cords. Drive slowly and carefully to avoid any sudden movements or bumps that could damage the hot tub.
  7. Reconnect the Electrical and Plumbing - Once the hot tub is in its new location, it must be reconnected to the electrical and plumbing connections. This should be done by a licensed electrician and plumber to ensure the connections are safe and secure.

Moving Heavy Furniture 

Moving heavy furniture can be exhausting and, when not armed with the proper tools or help, feels nearly impossible. But, with the right approach, it can be done efficiently. Here are some tips on how to move your heavy furniture:
  1. Think Ahead - Before you start moving heavy furniture, take the time to think out the process. Determine the best route for moving the furniture out, and make sure there is enough clearance and space for the furniture to be moved.
  2. Clear the Way - Clear the way by removing any items that could obstruct the path of the furniture, such as rugs, small tables, and other items. Cover any exposed floors with protective material such as cardboard or moving blankets to avoid scratches or damage.
  3. Gather the Correct Tools - Moving heavy furniture requires the right tools. This includes a dolly, straps, furniture sliders, and furniture blankets. 
  4. Ask for Help - Moving heavy furniture is not a task that can be done alone. Get help from professional movers or friends. Assign specific roles and responsibilities to each person, such as lifting, carrying, and maneuvering the furniture.
  5. Use Proper Lifting Techniques - When lifting heavy furniture, it is important to use proper lifting techniques to avoid injury. Bend your knees and keep your back straight, using your legs to lift the furniture. Avoid twisting your body or overreaching when lifting. Use the help of others to distribute the weight of the furniture evenly and make the lifting easier.
  6. Secure the Furniture - Once the furniture is lifted and ready to be moved, secure it with straps or blankets to protect it during transport. Make sure the furniture is secured tightly to avoid any shifting or movement during transport.

Should You Hire a Moving Company for Large, Heavy Objects?

Enlisting the help of a professional mover is highly recommended to ensure the safety of both your belongings and you. Professional movers are equipped with the necessary tools and equipment to move heavy items safely and efficiently. 

They have equipment such as dollies, straps, and ramps that are specifically designed to handle heavy items like furniture, pianos, and appliances. This not only makes the moving process more efficient but also ensures the safety of the movers and the items being moved. 

Professional movers also have the necessary experience and skills to handle heavy items. They undergo extensive training to learn proper lifting and moving techniques, ensuring that the items are not damaged during the moving process. 

Additionally, professional movers know how to navigate tight spaces and narrow doorways, which can be challenging when moving heavy items. Enlisting a professional mover to move heavy items can help prevent injuries. 

Let Atlas Handle Your Move

Atlas is your go-to professional mover. For over 75 years, countless families and individuals have entrusted us with their belongings – and their homes. 

Whether you are moving cross-country or just around the block, Atlas can assist you in packing and unpacking services, heavy object transport, and more. 

We are a full-service moving company – so you will not have to lift a finger. From packing up your belongings to unpacking them at your destination, Atlas takes care of everything in between. Get your free quote and discover the Atlas difference.