Let’s face it: Moving companies can be lifesavers. They’ll carry everything you own, they can handle three flights of stairs, they don’t flinch at bad weather, and they’ll move you any distance. Hey, is there anything they won’t do?
Well, yes, actually. Movers draw the line on certain things, and if you don’t know about it ahead of time you might end up out of luck on moving day. So here’s a handy no-go list.
OK, it may not come as a surprise, but “federal law bans moving companies from transporting hazardous materials,” says Lindsey Schaibly, operations coordinator of Two Men and a Truck, a franchised moving company based in Lansing, MI. This is probably a good thing.
That list includes the obvious things like propane tanks, gasoline tanks, and ammunition, but it also includes some things you might not expect.
According to Atlas Van Lines, these items can’t go on the truck:
- Car batteries
- Darkroom chemicals
- Nail polish
- Scuba tanks
- Liquid bleach
If you do have anything hazardous—or even vaguely toxic—your best bet is to dispose of it properly before you move and restock once you’ve landed at your new place.
If you’ve invested in potted plants, brace yourself—this might sting a little.
“Plants are tricky,” says James Sullivan, president of Humboldt Storage & Moving ofCanton, MA.
While a few moving companies might be willing to toss a plant or two on the back of the truck for a short move, most won’t allow any on local moves. And that goes double for intrastate and cross-continental moves. You may just have to bite the bullet and transport your cherished domestic vegetation yourself.
“Some states are really sensitive about plants,” Sullivan says. “Officials are afraid of bringing in bugs or other problems into the state.”
Food and pantry items
When it comes to all that stuff clogging up your pantry, there’s a simple rule: Nonperishable foodstuff can be transported but perishable items are a strict no, Schaibly says.
Keep in mind that anything open is considered perishable, no matter what the expiration date is. So it’s better to play it safe and pack only sealed food with a long shelf life—like canned vegetables, boxed cereals, and jarred spices.
Lawn and pool equipment can quickly become a source of stress on moving day.
Generally, any pool paraphernalia that could pose a danger—such as acid or other treatment chemicals—will have to be disposed of. Same goes for weed killer and other pesticides. However, you can move the actual equipment—such as your lawn mower or generator—as long as you plan ahead.
“We ask customers to remove as much gasoline from engines as possible before we can move the item,” Sullivan says (rather sensibly).
Rickety or scary stairs
Once you’re packed, there are still a few potential snags to watch for. Most moving companies will do anything they can to move you, but everyone has limits.
“Each mover is probably a little different,” Sullivan says. “But we do everything we can to get a customer moved in, even if we have to hoist furniture over the balcony.”
But don’t expect that to be the norm. Many moving companies won’t risk rickety stairs, tight spiral staircases, or narrow balcony walkways. Trust us, we know this from experience! If you know your new place might pose a problem, tell the movers about it ahead of time.
Remember: Companies can simply decline to move you, even if you’re scheduled to move that day. It’s better to play it safe and be honest about any potential problems beforehand than to be stuck without a mover on moving day. Come clean: You’ll thank us later.