Rules for Moving to Houston--What Movers Can't Move

by Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group

Moving - Moving BoxesAs if moving weren't anxiety-filled enough, did you realize that there are some belongings your movers cannot transport?

When you select a moving company, they should supply you a list of the things that they can't haul to your new house in Houston. They are not aiming to make your life crazier, they are heeding the U.S. Department of Transportation statute (49 CFR 100-185) which spells out hazardous materials that are not okay to put on a commercial vehicle. There are some items on the list of non-transportables that aren't hazardous, but that won't tolerate being in a closed truck and the moving company won't transport.

Because you are a reasonable law-abiding person, it's possibly never occurred to you that you are actually harboring dangerous explosives wherever you keep your cleaning supplies. You've possibly glanced around the garage and thought about your lawn mower going on the moving van, but there are lots of other things that are deemed to be dangerous and you'll need to be accountable for removing from your residence.

Any item with chemicals is a sure bet to be a moving no-no. This is because chemicals have a nasty custom of doing bad things if they are mixed with other chemicals, which can quickly take place in a moving van. A guideline is that if you can't throw something in your normal trash for pick up, it cannot be boxed up and loaded on the moving truck. So not only do you need to deplete the gas tanks on any lawn machinery (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 might have a disastrous outcome. And what’s worse—anything that is damaged will be your responsibility because you were advised what not to load on the moving van. It's not the moving company's obligation to double check all your boxes for contraband, so make sure that any hazardous items-including old paint, batteries, aerosol cans, charcoal, and paint thinner—are NOT packed for the moving truck. The ideal thing to do is transport these items to your local hazardous waste drop-off facility or give them away to someone who can use them.

What not to pack for movingWhat about your houseplants? The pantry? Your cat? Believe it or not, a few people have asked that their pets be transported on the moving van—the answer is absolutely not. That the moving company can't move your plants may be a tad more surprising. Long-distance moves cause an issue due to the fact that some states monitor foreign vegetation crossing the state’s borders, and you do not want to inadvertently introduce pests to either the truck or your new home. If plants are being transported more than 150 miles you may need to obtain a certain permit to move them—so if you're the one who brought in canker worms or aphids, your new state of residence can find you. As for food items in your pantry, only box up sealed, non-perishable stuff with a long shelf life. Or, 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 ice down coolers and transport them yourself.

While your valuables are not hazardous goods or likely to start an ash borer attack, most moving companies are reluctant to move jewelry, cash, stock certificates and other costly belongings. The liabilities of being lost are too great, bring them along with you in a carry on, or place them with other essential documents.

Other stuff you may not think about as being hazardous—nail polish, cleaning supplies, liquid bleach, fire extinguishers—are also not authorized to be moved commercially. Again, anything chemical or flammable is not authorized on a moving van, so be wise and dispose of or pack those items separately. The easiest choice is to properly dispose of these items and buy everything new once you have moved, so you will have brand new fertilizer and nail polish to go with your brand-new home.