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12 Things That Should Never Be Put on a Moving Truck

Moving is stressful enough without being blindsided by items that your movers won't be able to take on the truck.

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Anything flammable or combustible

If you’re looking for ways to have a stress-free move, there are certain rules to be aware of. First, anything flammable or combustible will likely be on your moving company’s blacklist, warns relocation experts at Updater.com. Weed sprays, fertilizers, gardening chemicals, paints, detergents, and many common household cleaning supplies could potentially be hazards—think stifling hot moving truck in mid August carrying flammable material. Call your local township or county to learn how to recycle products. But other weather conditions could wreak havoc on these types of materials as well, and are out of your movers’ control. Also, any type of liquid can leak, damaging other items in the truck.

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Firearms and ammunition

In many states transporting guns and ammunition is a giant no-no. “While policies vary from state-to-state, you could get in some serious trouble if the Department of Transportation (DOT) conducts an inspection and finds something illegal in the back of a truck,” says Jenna Weinerman, Marketing Director at Updater.com. In fact, most movers are not licensed to carry firearms or ammo. How to get your hunting rifle across country? Make sure your moving company has a permit to move firearms and equipment or contact a gun dealer or ammunition dealer to transport these items. Celebrating the Fourth of July in the near future? Don’t transport fireworks via moving truck either, or you could end up starting the festivities early (like, inside the moving truck wherever it happens to be). Use these pro packing tips to keep all your stuff safe.

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Many states strictly prohibit the transportation of plants unless they’re transported by specific carriers qualified for that. Although they can’t explode like paint cans or go off like a gun, plants can carry vermin and bugs that cause damage. You don’t want a pest to hitch a ride to New Jersey and start chomping down the Garden State—or your pricey sectional sofa.

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If you need to transport a safe that weighs no more than 500 or 600 pounds, your movers should be good to go. Good things to stash in there besides jewelry include paper documents such as Social Security cards and birth certificates to help you avoid identity theft. “When it comes to heavier safes, you must contact the dealer or store that you bought the safe from and try to coordinate with a dealer or third party to take care of it during a move,” says Weinerman.

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Appliances and electronics

Any appliances such as washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, and stoves can cause unforeseen problems to move, as they actually require special care. Movers are not plumbers or electricians and customers shouldn’t be expecting them to disassemble and disconnect pipes and hoses. Need help transporting, mounting, or dismounting that flat-screen TV? Be sure to let your moving company know in advance.

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Meds and important documents

“When deciding what items should not go into the moving truck, three things should fly to the top of everyone’s list,” says Libby McMillan, editor of ApartmentGuide and Rent.com blogs. “The first is meds. If those are misplaced, damaged, or overheated, the consequences could range from bad to life-threatening.” The second, she says, “is historic or sentimental photos and letters. Anyone who’s evacuated their home will tell you these are the first or second item they grab. Don’t put yours at risk; they’re irreplaceable.” McMillan ends her crucial list by saying, “Be sure to also keep important documentation and paperwork with you. This includes credit cards, licenses, checkbooks, passports, insurance policies, titles, deeds, adoption papers, birth and death certificates, trust certificates, wills, current tax files, and anything else you’d be hard-pressed to replace. Time is money, so invest a little time deciding which things you’d dread having to replace.” Helpful hint: “Use the move as an organizational catalyst, and decide if any of these should actually be in a safe-deposit or fireproof box,” McMillan adds.

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Grandma’s Rembrandt

If you need to move valuable items like antiques, grandfather clocks or your Grandma’s Rembrandt (OK, maybe it’s just a poster from the retrospective at a local museum, but still), confirm you have insurance for these irreplaceable items that are worth some major money. Reach out to your homeowners insurance provider to see what’s covered while in transport. Or purchase insurance through the mover or your insurance company directly. Some rare items may need to be specially packaged in wooden crates or need to be moved in specialized, temperature-controlled trucks. To find a pro mover, contact the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA). You can also reach out to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to review the history and information, accidents, complaints, and inspections for moving companies. Read these moving day horror stories you’ll be glad didn’t happen to you (and learn how to avoid them).

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Baby grands

A baby grand piano—or any grand piano—requires very delicate handling. In fact, a specialist must disassemble some of the piano’s moving parts before it can be relocated. Once your “baby” makes it to its new digs, you might then need a third party company to come and tune the piano and make sure that it’s working properly. ApartmentGuide recommends that other delicate musical instruments not be moved on a regular moving truck if they’re sensitive to temperature fluctuations, as most trucks are unregulated.

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Wine collections

If you are a wine connoisseur and need to move your wine cellar or collection of fine vino, a regular moving truck will not suffice. Larger collections of wine may need to be transported in a specialized, refrigerated truck since movement, humidity, temperature and exposure to light can all mess with the character and chemistry of fine wines. Consider consulting with your local sommelier or qualified wine appraiser for recommendations on moving companies and general advice.

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IKEA furniture

Known for their Swedish meatballs and inexpensive but innovative furniture, IKEA furniture is not moving-friendly. “Believe it or not, IKEA furniture is one of the most complicated items for moving companies to handle,” says Weinerman. “A lot of people have some sort of IKEA (or other modular-build) furniture in their household. These items can be very complicated to disassemble and reassemble—sometimes even more complicated than a grandfather clock or grand piano, as there are so many parts and such specific instructions.” Some moving companies even have policies in place that state that they will not touch or disassemble any IKEA furniture; rather, this must be done by qualified carpenters.

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Photo albums

“Photo albums aren’t going to do any harm to the other items in your moving truck, but they’re at risk themselves during a move,” says McMillan, of ApartmentGuide and Rent.com. You’ll want to make sure you avoid losing those precious memories by making sure they stay with you on a move. “Accidents happen in moving trucks, whether it’s something falling down, a box getting misplaced during unloading, or even (rarely) something dramatic like a fire.” If it’s super-meaningful and irreplaceable, tote it yourself. Check out the best ways to preserve those old photos.

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Furry friends and their chow

Hunting for Fido’s food or your picky cat’s treats among boxes are the last thing you’ll want to do when you arrive at your new abode. “Set aside at least two to three servings of pet food, so you don’t risk having to scramble to find the kibbles,” says McMillan. And don’t expect your movers to make room for Fido on the back of the truck. They aren’t in charge of your pet’s safety on a road trip. Pets should travel with you whether you’re driving or flying to your new home. And always be on the lookout for these ways moving companies secretly scam you.