Moving A Piano

Moving can be a very stressful time in a person’s life, especially if he or she has not hired appropriate help to move their furniture. Piano moves can be especially stressful, because the mover needs to have special knowledge and skills to safely move the piano. In this article I have outline a few frequently asked questions about piano moving in order to help understand what is involved in moving a piano and prepare you with the information to choose the right mover. At the end of the article, I have listed some questions that you can ask to help you choose your piano mover, as well as the information that you should have ready in order for the mover to be sufficiently prepared for your move.

Why do I need to hire a professional piano mover?

Many of you may be wondering why you would need to hire a professional piano moving company to move your piano, rather than using the household mover who is moving the rest of the contents of your house. The main reason for hiring a professional piano mover is that many household movers do not have adequate training or equipment to properly move a piano.

The average upright piano weighs between 400 and 900 pounds. Grand pianos can weigh between 650 and 1300 pounds. The value of a piano can vary from a few hundred dollars to 500,000 dollars depending on the make, model, age and condition of the piano. The majority of piano moves involve moving the instrument through a tight space such as a small door frame or staircase. In some cases, the piano may need to be dismantled in order to get it out of your house. Using and experienced professional piano mover will drastically minimize the risk of damage to the instrument and to your home.

As a piano mover, I have come across many cases where a customer has hired a household piano mover to move their piano and has had to make an emergency call to us because the household mover could not get the piano out of his or her house. In other cases, I have received calls from customers who had hired a non-reliable piano mover because their price was much lower, and had to book an emergency move with us, because that piano mover did not show up to move their piano or call to explain why they were not there.

How are pianos moved?

When you hire a professional piano mover, you can expect 2-3 people to come to your home equipped with piano skids, moving pads, ramps, slings, and the knowledge of how to move your piano safely. They will use special techniques to maneuver the piano out of your house. When the piano is put on the truck, it will be safely secured to the vehicle in order to avoid damage during transport. In the most difficult moves, 4-6 people may be used. Generally when a piano is moved by someone other than a professional piano mover, this equipment, knowledge and these safety precautions are not employed. While hiring a professional piano mover does not completely eliminate the risk of damage, it will drastically reduce this risk. Furthermore, a good piano mover will assess the situation and inform you if there is a chance of damage before he or she begins the move, and will give you the option of proceeding or not.

Are all professional piano movers equal?

Unfortunately, as in any trade, each piano moving company varies in their level of quality and experience. Some piano movers are better equipped and more prepared than others and act with more care and integrity than others. The best way to find a good piano mover is to call around to your local piano stores, piano technicians and piano teachers to find out which company they use. Piano stores in particular have a high stake in ensuring that they use reliable, high quality piano movers who have the least risk of damaging their instruments and are properly insured in the event that the unforeseen does happen.

Are all piano movers similarly insured?

Sadly, the answer to this question is no.
There are 3 types of insurance to consider when hiring a piano mover:
1. Commercial/automotive insurance: Is the company insured against damage to property and or vehicles?
2. Cartage/content insurance: Is the company insured against damage to the piano?
3. Workman’s Safety Insurance: Is the company insuring its workers against injury?
Some piano moving companies are insured for 1 or 2 of these types of insurance, but not all 3. It is the buyer’s responsibility to make sure that he/she is properly insured, not the moving company. It is a good idea to ask about these 3 types of insurance when you are phoning piano moving companies, and also to ask what amount of insurance your piano will be covered for. A properly insured moving company should provide you with a Bill of lading, which is a legal document stating what is being moved, the names of all parties involved in the move, where the piano is being moved from and to, and the full declared insured value of the instrument. The Bill of lading should also include the moving company’s terms of cartage. As a legal document, a proper bill of lading helps to ensure that the piano mover will repair any damages that were incurred during the move (unless a damage waiver was signed). It is also important to note that any damage caused to your piano or your property must be noted on the bill of lading to ensure that you have proper recourse if any action is needed.

Why is worker injury important to me?

You may be wondering why it is important that you ensure that the piano mover you hire has Workman’s Safety Insurance. When you contract a moving company, they are considered your employee for the time that they are working for you. If you hire a moving company that is not covered for Workman’s Safety Insurance, you are accepting full liability for any employees who are injured while working for you. Your liability will extend to medical bills, lost wages and possibly civil law suits. A company who is covered for Workman’s Safety Insurance will take care of most of these problems for you. Some companies do not pay their required insurance premiums and are therefore not covered for all injury insurance claims. You may ask the company that you are hiring to provide you with an up-to-date workman’s safety insurance clearance certificate, in order to ensure that you are properly covered. To be absolutely sure that the moving company’s coverage is up to date, you can contact your local Workman’s Compensation or Workman’s Safety Insurance board to check on the company’s status.

Does moving the piano affect the sound of my piano?

The actual move of the piano does not affect the sound or tuning of a piano. Generally piano tuning is affected by changes in temperature and humidity which cause the wooden and steel parts of your piano to expand and contract. You will probably need to tune your piano a few weeks after moving it, after it acclimatizes to its new location. Other factors that may affect the sound of your piano are the size and acoustics of the room in which the piano is located. Carpet absorbs sound, while hardwood reflects it. Sound reinforces in small spaces, seeming louder, while in large spaces the sound gets lost, seeming quieter.

How much does it cost to move a piano?

Piano moving is generally billed in one of two ways:
1. The household mover way – hourly rate, with a minimum number of hours (usually min. = 3 hours)
2. The professional piano mover way – flat rate based on the following factors:
a. Type (upright, grand) and size of piano
b. Distance being moved
c. Difficulty level due to stairs, grass pulls, tight turns etc.
d. Time restraints place on the move
e. Waiting time that might be incurred.
The advantage of a flat rate system is that, barring any unforeseen events, you be able to get an accurate idea of what the move will cost you before the movers arrive at your house and it is often less expensive than the hourly rate.

How much notice do I need to give the Piano Mover?

The amount of notice needed will depend on when and where you need the piano to be moved. Most piano movers book their deliveries on a first come, first served basis. If it is a high traffic time of year, you may need up to one month’s notice. In a lower traffic time of year, you may only need one or two day’ notice. Generally, if you need your piano moved on a specific day, you should book the delivery well in advance to make sure it’s available to you.

Below are listed some recommended questions to ask when you are looking to hire a piano mover:

1. How long have you been moving pianos?
2. Do you have any references?
3. Do you have full-time, trained staff moving pianos for you?
4. How do you charge for moving, and what are your rates?
5. What days of the week do you move pianos, and what is your availability?
6. Are you covered for Commercial/automotive insurance, Cartage/content insurance, and workman’s safety insurance?
7. Will you provide me with a copy of your workman’s safety insurance clearance certificate?
8. What amount will my piano be insured for during the move? What does this insurance cover?
9. What are your terms of cartage? Will you provide me with a copy?
10. Will I be provided will a bill of lading when my piano is moved?

Listed below is the information that you should have prepared when you book your piano move:

1. What type of piano is it that you require to be moved? (Upright or Grand Piano)
2. What size of piano is it? (upright pianos are measured by height [floor to lid] and grand pianos are measured by longest length [keyboard to curve in bow end])
3. Where is it being picked up from? (Have full address including postal or zip code)
4. Where is it being delivered to? (Have full address including postal or zip code)
5. Are there any stairs that the piano needs to go up or down (inside and outside)? If so, how many? Are they straight, spiraled or curved? Based on what you tell the piano mover, he/she will tell you how many people they believe it will accomplish your move. Missing important details or difficulties, or miss-estimating your move based on the information you have provided could mean that your piano move might not happen that day, and could incur you more charges.
6. When are you looking to have the piano moved?
7. Are there any time restraints involved? (As time-restraints tend to hamper the efficiency of the mover’s day, placing a time-restraint on the mover could more than double your cost.)
8. Inform the piano mover of any problems that you can foresee ahead of time.

The more information you can provide the piano mover, the more accurate your quote will be. If you are vague and provide few details, do not be surprised if you incur extra charges for your move. A good, reputable piano mover will make the process as painless as possible for you and usually be the highlight and most stress-free part of your whole moving process. They key is ensuring that the mover meets all of your requirements and providing them with the information they need to help you properly.

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