Safe Moving for Beginners: How-To Tips

Basic Pointers for Do-It-Yourself Safe Movers

Truth is, safe moving is not for beginners, unless yours is so small as to be almost inconsequential in terms of its weight.

That said, I at least understand the appeal of moving that safe yourself.

It's the money, isn't it? You called a safe moving company (or maybe even a furniture mover), heard an estimate or flat rate quote, and it rocked your world.

How could they want so damned much to move a box? Here are the rationales that get safe owners into Do-It-Yourself safe moving:

Those guys want more to move it than I paid for it!
or a variation of the above
Those guys want more to move it than it's worth!

Are "those guys" being opportunistic or unreasonable?
If they're experienced and properly equipped to do the work, the answer is "probably not."

Whatever the case, that's what gets a lot of people thinking about ways to avoid the rip-off safe movers. After all, how hard can it be? All they have that you don't have is a truck and a heavy duty dolly or something.

Okay, you decide to save tons of money by handling the move yourself.
Here's what you'll need:

1) A truck.
Well, maybe a little more than just a "truck." It needs to be a truck that can handle a potentially heavy load. If the safe to be moved is substantial in size or weight and the truck is small or lightweight, you might put the safe on board only to see the bed sink (or collapse) until it rests on the wheels. It's funny to see in a slapstick pratfall kind of way when it's not your problem, but it ain't so funny to the friend whose light pickup truck you borrowed.

2) A way to get the safe from the ground up and into the truck bed.
Oh, you thought you and your buddy(s) would just position the safe at the back end of the truck and tip it into the bed?

This is the stuff that makes You Tube such a fun place to browse, so be sure to have one extra buddy along with a video cam. Slung over his shoulder should be a First Aid kit and he should also have a cell phone with a 911 speed dial feature.

Not a problem, because you're renting a truck with a lift gate?

Now you're getting a little smarter, but -- you should know going in that even if you spring for the all-inclusive rip-off-priced-covers-everything insurance that the truck rental place offers, if you read the fine print you'll no doubt discover that damage to the lift gate isn't part of the coverage.

So don't try to load a 1,500 pound safe with a gate rated for 1,000 pounds. If you try and you're lucky, it just won't rise. If you're unlucky it will get part way up and stop, or the motor will fry, or you'll blow a seal, or it will jerk to a stop partway up, the safe might tip and fall off the gate. You could end up owning a lift gate, but cheer up, you can pay for it with the money you saved on DIY safe moving.

If you heed that last and resolve to rent a truck with lift gate capacity that will easily handle a big safe, you'll notice that the price of the rental as well as the size of the truck with a heavy duty gate all rise steeply.

However, it's still cheaper than the rip-off safe movers, so you go ahead. One last word of advice: Designate one person and one person only as the gate operator, and that person should thoroughly familiarize himself with the controls, or I'll see you on You-Tube.

3) Walk the moving paths before starting.
In other words, from where the safe will start to the truck, then from where the truck will stop to offload and then to where you plan to put the safe. Bring a tape measure, measure the safe width and depth, and be sure it will have clearance to pass through every doorway or opening along both routes.

4) Are there any inclines along the moving path?
It's very helpful to know this and to have enough manpower along to push, drag or levitate when the time comes.

5) Stairs?
You'll need to figure out in advance how you'll get the safe up or down any steps.
Hint: Though it looks and sounds simple, raising a big (or even a small heavy) safe up and over even a two- or three-inch high obstacle can turn into a major fiasco. On a flight of stairs, laying on more strong helpers is usually a very bad idea, because there's limited space for all to work together effectively. Hey, try it and see for yourself.

The cardinal rule when raising or lowering a safe from a truck bed or up or down stairs is that every person involved not only knows which way he'll jump if the safe topples, but also that the way he'll be jumping is clear. Falling safes are the stuff of You-Tube videos, but falling safes that land on people or appendages is well into paramedic country; hardly funny.

Remember that even though a big safe looks a lot like a big black refrigerator, that's where the resemblance ends. It's going to be a LOT heavier. What first-time safe movers always learn is that when heavy items start moving, everything is amplified.

In other words, bumping into a wall or door frame while slowly guiding a refrigerator down a hallway qualifies as an oops! that will probably involve scratch repair or a ding or two in a wall. The same small bump with a safe weighing two, three, or more times as much as that refrigerator is going to do a lot more damage.

Finally -- if you're doing this job with a few friends who are only in it for the beer and pizza you promised, save the beer for after the job.

But hey, it's easy, and you'll save tons of money.

Safe and Vault Service San Francisco and Northern California
CA Locksmith License 1985
CA Contractor 553337


Lisa from San Mateo said…
Thank you for the phone call....I will definitely try this with my mother's safe & I hope it works!! Again, thank you for the phone call...It was very encourgaging and I am enjoying reading a lot of your blogs.
Anonymous said…
Ha! This is outstanding stuff. Don't own a home safe yet. But this blog is teaching me tons (ha) about them. Thanks for the inside info. Always better to learn first from other's mistakes I say. Jeff in Illinois
Sofia Leal said…
Being a first time mover is really hard. Moving is a stressful things for all those movers. Possessing some tips and tricks can be an advantage to those who are starting to move for their new place.

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