Unless you’re lucky enough to be moving to and from a single floor building situated on ground level, you will one day have to move heavy furniture or equipment up and down stairs.
It can be tempting to attempt this challenge using muscle power alone, especially if you or those helping you are big, bulky football players or ex-marines. However, this is a recipe for damage and injury, something which can be avoided by the right choice of moving equipment.
There are plenty of products on the market designed to make moving and handling bulky items easier from shoulder dollies, available for less than $100 to powerful electric stair climbing dollies costing $2,000 or more. The option you choose will depend on the specific circumstances of your move.
For items of around 750 pounds or less, a shoulder dolly could be sufficient. These are designed to take the strain from the arms and back and distribute an item’s weight between the legs and shoulders of the two people doing the lifting.
An example of this wonderfully simple invention is the Shoulderdolly® lifting system.
Shoulder dollies rely on good technique when scaling stairs. For example, the nominated ‘lift leader’ should count all stairs and the taller of the two lifters should be at the bottom of the steps. They should also lock their arms straight to avoid the item leaning towards them while ascending.
Items should be raised to about 8 inches above each step before climbing and care should be taken to avoid hitting the ceiling. This may mean flipping the item between floors.
While shoulder dollies can be sufficient for sofas, mattresses and even fridge freezers and ovens, heavier items will probably need different moving equipment.
2 wheel dolly
While standard 2 wheel dollies or hand trucks are perfect for cartons, heavy machinery and furniture would need a specialist dolly like the Stevens magnesium appliance hand truck). These are brilliant for moving reasonably heavy loads across flat surfaces and up and down small flights of stairs although using them on large staircases can be trickier. Progress is often very slow and tiring and if you have to turn corners, the risk of catching a wall or the item falling off increases.
Using a manual hand truck beyond its capabilities increases the risk of injury. A hand truck is rarely suitable for items weighing more than 400-500 pounds although welded frame hand trucks can sometimes carry a little more. Hand trucks can also be difficult to manage when moving items of an awkward shape.
If a hand truck is suitable for your purposes, spend some time researching the different types as all have their own unique qualities and disadvantages. Many include stair rollers to help negotiate steps and some fold down for easy storage. Others can be converted into 4 or even 6 wheel dollies.
Powered stair climbing dolly
Powered stair climbing dollies incorporate a battery and specialized attachments for moving extremely heavy items such as safes, vending machines, furnaces, water heaters and bath tubs up and down stairs of any height and slope.
Some of the accessories that you might need to add to your order include big wheel attachments, extended toe plates and power packs. Built by Escalera, New Haven offer an aluminum stair climber hand truck that can handle loads of up to 1,200 pounds.
Other models have tank-like treads and platforms which can stabilize the load while ascending or descending.
By choosing the ideal moving equipment for your specific use case, you can work quickly and safely while keeping your furniture, equipment and home protected from damage.