7 Special Items You Can’t Trust Just Anyone to Move

When preparing for a move, whether you’re moving locally, across the country or across the world, it is necessary to plan on getting help with items that require special handling, packing, or storage.

During the stress of a big move, many people assume that items like pianos, antiques, high-end décor, electronics or wine collections can be moved by almost any mover or stored anywhere. However, these are some of many items in your home that may not fare well with people who don’t have the training to move it, or in a facility without temperature-control and proper humidity control.

Items that require special storage are things that could be damaged or ruined by extreme temperatures or humidity. This means wine collections, art, or antiques made of wood, like a grandfather clock. Items that require special handling during a move can be large, awkwardly-shaped items like yard sculptures or excessively heavy pieces like pianos.

Not all professional moving companies have the equipment to manage moving these items safely. Before hiring a moving company, make sure they have the capability to move any items that may be special or unique. For example, Suddath® moving teams have equipment such as motorized hand trucks, cranes, wheeled transfer carts, pallet trucks, and transit benches to help move large or heavy items.

Any moving company should be able to tell you during your pre-move survey how they can move and store these items (in detail) so you know what to expect on moving day. This is why Suddath assigns all customers a dedicated moving coordinator — so that both you and the crew are following the same moving plan, and they have the proper equipment and protections needed for what is in your home.

Before discussing in detail, we should define climate and temperature-controlled storage, since it has a direct effect on many of the items discussed below.

Climate-controlled storage is a facility equipped to maintain specific temperature ranges year-round. A climate-controlled storage facility also moderates humidity or moisture in the air inside the building. Equipment used includes air conditioning, central heat, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers.

Temperature-controlled storage is where temperature is controlled within a range of several degrees. For example, in 90-degree weather, the inside of a temperature-controlled warehouse would be maintained around 75 degrees, never to exceed 80 degrees. The same holds true for winter temperatures, where no matter how cold it is outside, the warehouse would never dip below 55.

If you’re storing items for a long period of time and need protection from radical temperature extremes, temperature-controlled storage solutions are great options.

Suddath has been moving and storing households in the U.S. for over a century. That is why our teams know all of the items that need special care and attention during moving and storage. We’ve compiled a list of items that are most often entrusted to us for specialty storage, packing, and moving.

1. Fine Art

Aside from needing to be carefully removed from a wall, wrapped and placed carefully for transportation, climate-controlled storage is a must for your valuable art collections.

Most art is very sensitive to temperature and humidity, which can cause damage from physical stress, as well as the dangers of mold and fungi. Issues from improper storage can range from warping, cracking, yellowing and disintegration.

Even if your art isn’t technically valuable, but priceless to you — for example, your grandmother’s fruit bowl paintings or your children’s first forays into a Jackson Pollock-style masterpiece — you want it protected during transportation and storage.

In addition to humidity concerns, art collections also require temperature moderations. Experts in fine art recommend storing your artwork in a unit with temperatures no lower than 70 degrees and no higher 75 degrees.

Even if there are no Picassos in your collection, arts and craft supplies, as well as textiles, are items that may require special moving and storage considerations. Fabrics need protection from moisture to prevent mold, fading, thinning, and moths.

2. Pianos

If you own a piano, you already know that the weight of even a small piano can be as much as 500 pounds.

A piano is one of the more common unique moving and storage items that always requires the help of a professional moving team. The weight of a piano can easily damage your floors during the moving process. Dropping even one corner of an item this heavy could also damage other items in the home or, much worse, severely injure the person attempting to move the piano.

Pianos are a tricky combination of being extremely heavy, but also very fragile. Pianos are often beloved, expensive family members – treat them carefully and with kid gloves.

Even if you, or a hired weekend mover, are able to move the piano without outwardly damaging it, untrained handling can cause damage to the instrument itself which is far more costly than just a nick or scratch to the outside body. The vulnerable components of a piano mean that it is one of the most expensive items to fix if damaged.

Once your piano is safely moved out of the home, it needs to be stored in a climate-controlled storage facility. Pianos stored in facilities without climate control often sustain moisture damage to the keys, strings, wooden components, cast iron plates, and pins.

Once moisture is left to sit on the piano, the wooden legs can begin to buckle as a result of the expansion. Even moisture that is not visible can have a catastrophic impact on a piano. Moisture from humid summer weather or damp winter months can settle onto the pins and corrode the metal. Mold eventually forms from the moisture that isn’t ventilated out of the storage unit. At the very least, this mold can cause the piano to smell quite severely, meaning you’ll never want it inside your home again.

3. Wine collections

A wine collection is a significant investment, usually being saved for special occasions, so you’ll want to add this to your list of items that require specialized moving help and specific storage requirements. Wine cannot survive storage in a unit or warehouse without climate control, as temperatures over 75 degrees can cause the wine to turn and spoil.

Of course, before you ever have to worry about your wine collection’s storage needs, you will have to get it safely packed and ready for the move. Much like artwork and pianos, a sizable wine collection can be one of the most expensive things in your home. When a precious collection is made of glass bottles, it will require special moving and storage to prevent breakage.

Moving a wine collection means not only specially padded moving materials, but correct placement in the moving truck. Suddath crews go through almost 300 hours of in-house training, which includes how to properly pack a truck. The secret to a well-packed truck is zero movement. A tightly packed truck makes sure that everything, especially specialty fragile items, aren’t jostled or thrown around during driving time.

4. Appliances

All of the household appliances we use in our homes every day have electrical components and mechanical equipment inside of them, and washers, dryers, refrigerators, microwaves, and ovens need protection from extreme temperatures and humidity. The metal pipes, copper wires, and various electrical pieces can rust and fall apart in prolonged exposure to moisture or freezing temperatures.

The biggest reason you may want to have these expensive items stored in a climate or temperature-controlled area is mold.

Many people think their appliances have been properly dried out, but often haven’t done it correctly before they get packed away. Appliances like a fridge, freezer or washing machine need to be cleaned out of all ice and water, and then dried out for at least three days before moving and storage.

If you’re unsure about your pre-move treatment of these items, don’t risk it. Mold from one item can easily spread to other items in your shipment, and even a small amount of mold can cause health risks once you plug the machine back in at your new home.

5. Family heirlooms and antique furniture

Suddath moving teams can bring packing supplies that are protective enough for moving fragile items such as heirloom frames, textiles, and decor. Furniture that has been passed down through your family for generations is completely unreplaceable, so we treat these special moving and storage items with respect and careful attention.

For heavy heirloom furniture items like wardrobes and dining tables, our moving team will bring padding and protections that reduce the likelihood of damage during moving and travel. Once your precious heirlooms are loaded onto our trucks, if storage is needed, our temperature-controlled storage facility will see to it that your precious items are returned to you in the same condition, ready to be a centerpiece in your new home.

Inevitably, antique furniture has already weathered many years of various temperatures and conditions in its lifetime, and you don’t want to increase that exposure and reduce its lifespan. Storing your heirloom furniture, artwork, textiles, and tapestries in a facility that has the ability to store it in an area that maintains strict temperatures and moisture controls is paramount to your antiques’ survival for another generation.

Of course, wood and fabric aren’t the only materials that require special storage consideration. Aged coin collections, silver tableware, antique guns (minus ammo) or copper artwork also need to be listed on our list of special moving and storage items and may require climate-controlled storage. Any heirlooms made of metal or containing metals will have to be protected from extreme temperatures and humidity. These types of pieces begin to ruin when very high or very low temperatures and humidity kick start the oxidation process, destroying them in a short period.

6. Photographs

Although we are in the age of digital storage for photographs, most families still have plenty of older, printed photos taken prior to the digital photography age.

Photographs are especially susceptible to every type of damage that happens to items left in a facility without temperature control. Heat, moisture and freezing temperatures can each exact their own kind of damage to your precious family memories.

If temperatures get too high, photographs can begin to curl up and change shape. If photographs are stacked on top of each other during high heat, they can become permanently stuck together. Humid weather can cause moisture to creep into photo albums, leaving images covered with dark mold or warped by the moisture. You may have seen small examples of these types of damages when going through family photos that have been stored in attics or basements.

Storage facilities without temperature or climate control, that aren’t properly treated for insects, can often be a comfortable location for bugs to build nesting areas. Most parts of the country have insects that will happily chew away at your photos or leave remnants behind that stain or erode photographs.

7. Game room items: pinball machines, pool tables and home theater equipment

Moving game room items can be especially tricky, as they are typically large, bulky, delicate or all three of those things.

A pool table that isn’t handled correctly can have the felt irreparably damaged, and even break in half. Pinball machines and antique arcade games have extremely delicate internal systems and need to be handled properly — Suddath is uniquely qualified to move these items, as we’ve been delivering games to Chuck E. Cheese’s nationwide for over 20 years.

Again, the key to moving these items is:

  • Proper prior planning, which would occur between your dedicated move coordinator and the crew prior to move day
  • Padding and specialized equipment
  • Tight placement on the truck

If you’re storing any of these items, climate-controlled or temperature-controlled storage is especially important. The felt of a pool table, and the internal mechanics of a pinball or arcade game are all vulnerable to temperature and humidity. We make sure these items are properly crated and temperature protected before storing them in our warehouse.

How to find safe and secure moving and storage

Suddath has over 3 million miles of storage space across the country, all protected by 24/7 security and are temperature-controlled with climate-control options. We are a unique moving and storage option for specialty and high-end items because we are also a commercial mover and global logistics provider.

This means that companies nationwide trust us to move and store their unique items that range from arcade games of all shapes and sizes, electronics, medicine, food and other sensitive products. Our household goods customers then benefit from those high moving and storage standards.

Click here to get a quote for Suddath’s moving and storage services.