What Items Should Be Roped or Tied Down While Moving
It would be cool if all your items could fit perfectly in boxes which could stack perfectly in your vehicle or rented truck. Imagine how quick and efficient moving could be if all you and your moving crew had to do was pack, stack, and unpack your boxes once they reach their final destination.
Unfortunately, there are several reasons why this doesn’t work well, mainly coming down to most of us having items that are too big or too bulky to fit in a traditional box.
True, it would be impractical and not easy to box up heavy things like furniture or larger appliances. But there are still some things that seem like they are either too big to fit inside the vehicle by themselves and too oversized to go in a traditional box, no matter the depth, width or height.
One easy solution is to rent or borrow a larger vehicle or make a trip with only a few larger items at a time, maybe putting the seats down, driving solo, or letting things securely hang out the back or stick out a window. (The latter option is more practical for short distances but may not work well for a longer haul.) Or, as we’ve seen many people do, you can look for ways to put items on top of your vehicle. As we’ve also seen, it’s not always easy to do this right.
Overhead carriers that lock are useful, as are secure bike racks, provided you don’t go in places with height restrictions like parking garages or low bridges.
Stacking items clear to the sky, like something out of “The Beverly Hillbillies” (a 1960s-era TV show about a family of Texans packing up their household in one car for a move west) can make your car go slow and more than likely cause an impact with a bridge or overpass somewhere along the route.
Too loose of a load can easily shift in any direction. Not only could this cause your items to be broken or lost, but they could also potentially damage other vehicles or people.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that unsecured loads cause as many as 51,000 accidents each year on North America’s roads, including 10,000 injuries and 400 deaths. In most cases, the person who packed the load or owned the vehicle (or both) is liable.
Not securing your load can also potentially dent or damage your vehicle, making what seemed like a smart plan to save costs and reduce the number of trips can turn into something expensive – and maybe even result in a lawsuit or serious traffic violation.
That’s why strong rope or tie-downs are a smarter solution for transporting things like furniture.
When should something be tied down?
The quick answer is something should be tied down with rope or ratchet straps if you think it has the potential to shift or fall off at slow speeds in low traffic situations. Your items should also be tied down multiple ways with multiple ties, ropes, straps or tie-downs. They should then be tied down as tightly as possible since it’s likely things will shift due to the motion of the vehicle, especially on bumpy roads. This could mean ratcheting the tie-downs until they’re taut, and even stopping every now and then to adjust.
The load should be centered as much as possible for greater stability. For example, a load in a truck should be near the axles, with the heavy items on the bottom and lighter items on top.
Moving experts also recommend, once you’ve secured your load, to cover it with a tarp or cargo net. But this also needs to be secure too – if this blows off, it also could create a traffic hazard and also increase the risk of your items coming loose.
A good rule of thumb is that one tie-down should be used for every 10 feet of cargo. This means two tie-downs should be used for every 20 feet of cargo, and so on.
What size of rope is the best?
Rope can be challenging to work with if you’re not familiar with it from a moving/load perspective. It is useful for lighter loads, but common rope isn’t usually rated for securing heavier loads, but straps and tie downs are. Some rope types have the possibility of slipping. A nylon rope that’s 1/4 inches seems to be a standard for light loads since it is difficult to break, is inexpensive, and comes in long lengths. Many pickups also have indicators that show suggested weight. They also have places for anchors and bullrings. Some say that doubling the amount of rope around an item doubles the strength – this isn’t automatically true, but it does strengthen it. The overall tightness helps as well as the type of knot. There are different schools of thought on the best knots, but the trucker hitch, the constrictor, and the bowline all seem to be highly recommended.
What type of rope should I buy?
Twisted rope is generally recommended vs. braided even if it supports less weight and might be rougher on the hands. Twisted nylon rope that’s ¼ inches generally can support 120 pounds, and ½ inch twisted rope generally doubles this. Bungee cords, which might be popular around the home or the garage, aren’t recommended for securing loads. They can’t take a lot of pressure and also have a good possibility of coming loose if the load shifts and causing their own damage.
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