Rules for Moving--What Movers Can't Move
As if moving weren't stressful enough, did you know that there are several things your movers can't move?
When you choose your moving company, they should provide you a list of the items that they can't transport. They're not trying to make your life difficult, they're complying with the U.S. Department of Transportation statute (49 CFR 100-185) which defines hazardous materials that aren't safe to put on a truck. There are a few things on the list of non-transportables that aren't hazardous, but that won't withstand being on a closed truck and the moving company won't load.
Since you're a reasonable law-abiding citizen, it's probably never occurred to you that you're actually harboring dangerous explosives in your bathroom and kitchen cabinets. You've probably looked around the garage and wondered about your lawn equipment going on the trucks, but there are lots of other things that are considered dangerous and you'll have to be responsible for getting off the property.
Anything with chemicals is a sure bet to be a moving no-no. This is because chemicals have a nasty habit of blowing up if they're mixed with other chemicals, which can easily happen in a moving vehicle. A good rule of thumb is that if you can't put something in your regular trash for pick up, it can't be packed up and put on a truck. So not only should you empty the gas tanks on any lawn equipment (mowers, leaf blowers, weed whackers, etc), either use any fertilizers and grass seed or give it to your neighbors—a little Miracle-gro and a little leaking gasoline can have a bad result. And guess what—any damages are your responsibility since you were told what not to put on the truck. It's not the moving company's job to check all your boxes for contraband, so be sure that any hazardous materials-including old paint, batteries, aerosol cans, charcoal, and paint thinner—are NOT packed for the trucks. The best thing to do is take them to your local hazardous waste drop-off facility or give them away to someone who can use them.
What about your houseplants? The pantry? Pets? Believe it or not, some people have asked that their pets be moved on the truck—the answer is no. That the moving company can't move your plants might be a little more surprising. Interstate moves pose a problem in that states are sensitive to foreign vegetation coming in, and you don't want to inadvertently introduce pests to either the truck or your new home. If plants are moving more than 150 miles you may need a special license to move them—so if you're the one who brought in canker worms or aphids, your new home state knows where you live. As for food items in your pantry, only pack up unopened, non-perishable stuff with a long shelf life. Better, donate your unopened canned goods, cereals, and cookies to a local food bank, and start fresh at your new house. Throw out anything perishable or open, unless you're going to pack up coolers and transport them yourself.
Although your valuables are not hazardous or likely to start an ash borer invasion, most moving companies are reluctant to move jewelry, cash, stock certificates and other valuable items. The risks of being lost or misplaced are too great, bring them along with you in a carry on, or with other important documents.
Other things you might not think about as being hazardous—nail polish, cleaning supplies, liquid bleach, fire extinguishers—are also not allowed to be moved commercially. Again, anything chemical or flammable is not allowed on a commercial truck, so be smart and dispose of or pack those items separately. The best option is to properly dispose of these items and buy everything new once you've moved, so you'll have brand new fertilizer and nail polish to go with your brand-new house.