Tall Ceramic Lamps are Fragile, or “Planning for Damage!”



A customer had hired another mover to box-pack her items in New York, and transport—them to a storage unit in Atlanta, Georgia.  We moved the items from the storage unit to her new apartment.

The New York movers had packed this tall, ceramic lamp pictured above–in a wardrobe box—and here’s the sad part—they surrounded the fragile lamp with heavy books! 

So you now had a big heavy box which meant you needed a hand truck to move it.  But going up or down stairs, you were now bouncing the heavy books against the fragile lamp.  That’s called “Planning for a Damage Claim.” (You’ve heard of “Planning for Success;” well this is planning for damage!

Galileo’s “Square-Cube Law” explains how as an object gets bigger, it tends to get weaker unless it becomes relatively significantly more dense.  A tall standing lamp like this one tends to be more fragile than if it was table-sized.  So if any item should get the tender treatment—it was this lamp—but instead they piled books on top of it.  And the damage seen in these pictures was the result!

How should the lamp have been box-packed?  In a “lamp box” (with the shade in a separate box).

In the event there was no lamp box available—and the lamp box is one of the less commonly available type of boxes—then a tall wardrobe box could have been used, but no other inventory items could be placed in the box! (I don’t think I would use hanging clothes as padding next to the ceramic lamp, but it is an interesting idea.  If I didn’t have styrofoam peanuts, or newsprint, or pads, then I might use hanging clothes

"Wardrobe Box"

“Wardrobe Box”

And the empty area in the box would have to be filled with something.  You could use a lot of styrofoam “peanuts,” or newsprint, or quilted pads. (The Mover would want to get his pads back at the destination, or else charge for them)

In the “World of Claims,” lamps are an item that is 1) both fragile and relatively easy to damage, and 2) closer to the owner’s heart than a lot of inventory items.  Compare “lamps” with say, the “end tables” they sit on.  Even a nice end table is basically an inert, square chunk of shiny wood, whereas a lamp is a “light giving” thing which is often sculptured and artistic like a vase.  The lamp’s owner frequently touches it directly to turn it on and off, whereas the end table just holds glasses, and magazines etc.

This particular lamp in the picture was given to the customer by her now deceased Mother, so the lamp’s loss was particularly painful!

Protect those lamps!  Especially the more fragile ones.

Moving Floor Lamps


Target and Walmart sell millions of these cheap floor lamps, and beginning movers and do-it-yourselfers break these every day.

Since they are long and relatively light, the intuitive thing is to to lay them horizontally, high in a tier.

Don’t lay down a floor lamp this way!; And along the side of the truck is not a tier !!!

Don’t lay down a floor lamp this way!; And along the side of the truck is not a tier !!!

The problem is they are very cheap to buy for a reason—they are very cheaply made!  The round base is screwed into two or three poles, all screwed together, and then finally screwed into the light at the top.  If you assemble the lamp and stand it up vertically, then okay, it will probably hold together.  But turn it on its side and lay it down . . . Good luck!  The screw rings are a marvel of “Value Engineering,” meaning they are designed as cheaply as possible.  And “designed as cheaply as possible” means only designed to stand up, not to lay horizontally.

Each of the screw-together points is a weak point where breakage is possible, even likely.  In my experience, when these are moved in the lay-down fashion, the most common breakage point is where the round floor base connects to the first pole.  This round floor base often snaps off the first pole, and the lamp will stand straight no more!

The only safe way to move these is to tie them against the wall.


Since the lamps are fragile even while standing, we are using a lighter-than-usual pad to cover the top of the lamp.  Instead of a regular quilted pad, we are usually a light blanket (actually a “U-haul” blanket which a customer left us)  You could get by, by tying it to the wall uncovered, but then the metal lamp fixture would rub against the truck wall and likely leave marks on the lamp.

In two decades I have never seen a floor lamp damaged when tied to the wall in this fashion, but have seen them damaged countless times when laid down at the top of a tier.

Why You Should Not Load Cleaning Supplies Into the Moving Truck



As a Moving Worker, it is not pleasant to work inside a truck FILLED WITH BLEACH FUMES!

And if you were the customer being moved, how would you feel if that spilled bleach soiled, say, your $3000 red leather sofa?!


THE first and main principle is you CANNOT LOAD CLEANING SUPPLIES INTO THE MOVING TRUCK! Boxes are meant to be Stacked! A bottle of bleach within a stacked box within a packed truck of household goods, is–wait for the cliche–a very nasty “accident waiting to happen!” In the pictures above, the customer placed the bleach bottle in the box WITHOUT A CAP(!) or with a loose cap. {You can see how that can happen. The person is rushing to finish the packing before the Movers get there, and “Oh, I forgot the moving supplies!”}

Really the only way to move the cleaning supplies is in your car, preferably in an open plastic crate sitting sitting on the floor in front of the front passenger seat, so you can watch it. CHECK AND TIGHTEN THE BOTTLE LIDS!




This box shows the problem. A leaky, soapy mess! Often home cleaning fluids will leak right through the box and into the load. Imagine the consequences if the leaky box happens to be sitting on top of say, a leather sofa standing on end! With this particular box, we fortunately identified it as leaking and put it outside in the straw, so it could harmlessly drain. The box was meant to go in the customer’s new basement, and it would not have been nice if it had leaked all over their new basement floor. But the box traveled in the load to the new destination. So it was only pure luck that the box didn’t leak during transit and cause significant damage!

For interstate moves, there is an outright ban on putting cleaning fluids in the load. And it is usually easy for the customer to understand. Bottles of cleaning fluid cannot be bouncing around somewhere in the load for hundreds or thousands of miles. But for local moves it is trickier, since the customer will not think twice about putting cleaning supplies on their truck when doing a Do-It-Yourself-Move in say, a U-Haul. When a Mover tells the Customer the cleaning supplies cannot go on the truck, even when the truck is only going a few miles, the Customer may not be happy. The Customer may not have room in his car trunk, and may not want to make an additional trip back just to get the cleaning supplies!

Since I am always trying to please the customer if-at-all-possible, I have struggled to find a safe way to move their cleaning supplies on the back of the truck. My imperfect algorithm is as follows:

When the Loader sees a box of cleaning supplies approaching the truck–he should immediately remove that box and put it outside and beside the truck. You may put it with other items in the category of “Going-At-The-End-of-The-Truck.” Other items in this category are live plants (also an absolute no-no on an interstate move, but you can get by with moving them on a local move). With the cleaning supplies outside the truck, you can also watch the box to see if it is already leaking, much like you might watch a refrigerator or washing machine for water leaks. This rule assumes YOU CAN IDENTIFY THE BOX AS CONTAINING CLEANING SUPPLIES. This will only happen if
The box was properly labeled. In this picture the box is MOST DEFINITELY NOT LABELED PROPERLY! “Laundry Room” does not tell you there are messy cleaning supplies inside!

When Labeling the box, put something like “* * DANGER — CLEANING SUPPLIES — PUT AT END OF TRUCK * *”

IN CONCLUSION: A purist Mover/Loader will make it easy on himself and just ban the cleaning supplies on the truck. But if he decides to risk it, he must keep the cleaning supplies box at the end of the truck, sitting on the floor by itself to minimize leaking throughout the load.

Moving A Customer From Chattanooga to the “Ice House Lofts” in Decatur, GA


In the picture above, if you zoom in on the third floor of the stairway, you can see the excellent workers, Dee Shepard and Ricky Jackson, carrying a large piece around the bend.

This picture below shows the truck backed down a sidewalk, for loading. at the Hayden Place Apartments in Chattanooga, TN. The customer was moving from a 3rd floor walkup in Chattanooga, TN to a 5th floor loft with elevator in the “Ice House Lofts” in Decatur, GA.




On the two arched bar handles, you see quilted pad covers. They are a new addition and very helpful at preventing door scratch claims. Without the pads, the steel bar handles are out in the open, and when the cart is pushed through a doorway, the bars can collide with and scratch the wood door.

The View From the Customer’s 5th Floor Ice House Loft About 6:30pm in the Evening, Looking West. The Metal Building Below is The “Sycamore Art Gallery”>;;;;;/strong>;;;;;

Viewing the Ice House at a distance from the West (Looking East) from a dirt road just west of Fellini’s Pizza. You can see the Fellini’s Pizza sign to the left, and part of the restaurant building to the right. Fellini’s Pizza, by the way, in in old Greyhound Bus Station Building. The Greyhound sign is still on the wall above the pizza ovens. The brick Ice House complex is in the background.


Viewing the “Ice House” from the front


The view from a 4th floor balcony looking southeast.

The Amazing “Panel Cart”

I don’t want to tell you how many years I did moves without the benefit of a Panel Cart! I became a True Believer after a High-Rise to High-Rise move where we moved pieces from a German “Shrunk” (a German-made Wardrobe) It had these heavy six-foot tall doors, and we had no good way to move them down the hallways and elevator and long walk through the parking lot to the truck. A worker tried to put them on a Magliner Gemini box handtruck that folds down to a cart. The delicate finish on the Shrunk doors got scratched up on the metal handtruck. Major Disaster!! If we had a standard panel cart, we could have laid the doors down in the carpet-floored Panel Cart.

Most Movers and Customers first become acquainted with the Panel Cart while moving office cubicle partitions. But anything flat and long fits a Panel Cart nicely:

1) Mattresses and Box Springs (see picture below)

2) Tables

3) Pictures and Paintings

4) Flattened Out Boxes

When going on a Moving Job in a High-Rise, we will also roll moving equipment in the cart to the Origin unit. This includes pads, tape, shrink wrap, boxes, and other packing material.

Because the Panel Cart has big, heavy-duty, soft wheels, it is idea for rolling other items that are not so flat–closed-up boxes, end tables, chairs (see picture below)

CLAIM WARNING: If you push the cart through doors into residences or into office rooms, you have to be very careful that you don’t bang the unprotected metal handles against the door. The handles can easily leave scratches if they are unprotected. The one picture below shows the metal handles padded, and you can also buy at the Equipment Supply Store –special slip-on pads that fit the handles.