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Piano Removals Surrey & Sussex

How to move a piano?

Cooks of Cranleigh carry out piano removals every week in the local area. Our professional team of removalists encounter pianos of many shapes and sizes but one thing they all have in common is - they are VERY HEAVY!!

So if you are considering moving a piano yourself, please think very carefully before attempting to do so and plan the manoeuvre in advance. Due to the heavy weight, there are health and safety risks to you and others around you if something goes wrong during the piano removal. Health and Safety first!

Pianos vary in weight typically between 200kg to 600kg+. Their shape and design makes them awkward to lift using a straight back & bent leg posture, and although it should be avoided, invariably there will be an element of using your arm and back muscles at some stage during the manoeuvre. Back injuries normally happen during bending and twisting motions, so if extreme weight is added to such an action, the risk of injury becomes significant.

Piano Removals Questions

Before embarking on a DIY piano removal ask yourself these questions -

* Can I really afford to have time off work with a back injury?

* Do I want to risk giving myself a reoccurring back injury for the rest of my life? (Moderate back injuries typically repair within 6 weeks, however once a back has been injured it can leave it weakened and ready for another occurrence in the future).

*What happens if one of my helpers gets hurt? (If you paid them money, there could be a compensation claim against you! Are you insured for such an event?)

* If the piano gets dropped, both the piano and surrounding walls will probably be get damaged and require expensive repairs. Can I afford for that to happen? Am I insured for it?

If moving a piano downstairs, the above risks are magnified many times and such a movement is not a safe DIY proposition. Even the lightest 200kg piano would require 4 men, but if one person trips it becomes very difficult to stop 200kg from galloping downstairs out of control. There is a risk of severe injury in this situation so get a professional removal firm to move pianos down stairs.

Understanding the weight of pianos and piano types

Sometimes an innocuous looking small piano can weigh more than a large piano, so whilst size is a good indication of weight, don't be deceived by size.  The actual weight of a piano depends on how it was built and the materials used, at the upper end you can occasionally encounter large Uprights at 400kg and a Full Concert Grand can sometimes weigh more than 700kg.  Below is a list of typical piano weights, sizes and types:

Upright Pianos:

Weight Range    General Description                      Height   Width    Depth    Volume

  170 - 200kg         Small upright                               110        150        54cm     0.89 cbm

  200 - 250kg         Medium upright                           120        150        60cm     1.08 cbm

  250 - 300kg         Large upright                               132        154        67cm     1.36 cbm

Grand Pianos:

Weight Range    General Description                       Height   Width    Depth    Volume*

  250 - 300kg         5ft Baby Grand                             100        146        151cm   1.10 cbm

  300 - 340kg         5.5ft Medium Grand                      100        148        164cm   1.21 cbm

  320 - 360kg         6ft Parlour / Boudoir Grand            101        149        183cm   1.36 cbm

  350 - 450kg         7ft Semi-Concert Grand                 102        154        213cm   1.64 cbm

  450 - 500kg         8ft Concert Grand                          102        156        244cm   1.90 cbm

  500 - 600kg         9ft Full Concert Grand                   103        160        274cm   2.63 cbm

  550 - 700kg         9ft6' Full Concert Grand                 103        175        290cm   3.00 cbm

(*Grand Pianos are dismantled for moving, volume shown is approximate for the casing with legs off)

How to move an Upright Piano

Professional piano movers will use a set of piano wheels to minimise the amount of lifting required. Never push a piano on its own castors. The castors fixed to the bottom of most upright pianos are usually decorative, rather than practical, and are therefore at risk from being broken off, furthermore the act of pushing a piano on its own castors risks damaging your floor coverings (rip or crease carpets, scratch and gouge wood and stone floors). A small 200kg upright piano with 4 castors would have 50kg bearing down on each castor with a contact surface of just 1cm.

Using a set of piano wheels (or heavy duty skates or dollies), two strong men can fairly easily move a small upright piano over a flat surface with no more than a say two shallow steps.

Process for moving an upright piano:

1. Upright pianos normally have a lifting handle located at the back of the casing at both ends of the piano; the other lifting point is normally under the keyboard. Locate and examine the lifting points to ensure they are intact and able to take the weight.

2. With back and arms straight and legs bent, 1 person lift up one end of the piano using their legs to an approximate angle of 30 degrees whilst the other person slides the piano wheels underneath the frame in the middle. Now slowly lower the raised end of the piano until the underneath sits squarely on the wheels.  Make sure the underneath of the frame sits squarely, evenly and in line with the direction of the wheel set and that is does not lean to one side. Once mounted onto the transport wheels, the piano can be moved around with minimal effort; demounting from the wheels is the same process in reverse.

3. When loading to a truck you will need an electric tail lift or a loading ramp.

If the truck has an electric lift, check the weight capacity of the lift is sufficient to carry the piano and 2 persons. The carrying capacity of the electric lift will normally be written on the drop down tail board or on a specification plate attached to the back of the truck, close to the lift. If the lifting capacity of the vehicle lift is found to be insufficient, don't attempt to use it as this can cause damage to the mechanism.

If the truck has a loading ramp, check the angle of incline and width of the ramp is manageable for you. Also check the overall condition of the ramp is suitable to withstand 2 men and a piano standing on it (i.e. small piano and 2 men likely to be 360kg).  For DIY moving it would be desirable to have 2 persons pushing the piano up the ramp and 1 person walking backwards up the ramp pulling and guiding. If there are only two of you, 1 pushes and the other pulls, but you need to be fit and strong.  Proceed up the ramp in a slow and controlled manor, don't try and run up the ramp because the piano is top heavy and unstable on the wheels, so there is a risk of it toppling over.

4. Once inside the truck body, take off the piano wheels and cover with wool blankets to protect it from rubbing against the vehicle sides. Tie securely to the side of the vehicle using straps that are capable of holding the weight. Remember this is a heavy item, so breaking and accelerating forces during transit will be greatly magnified; if not secured properly, the piano could break free inside the vehicle with devastating consequences.

How to move a Grand Piano:

Professional removal companies will use a set of piano wheels to minimise the amount of lifting required, together with a piano shoe to mount the piano casing onto once dismantled. Never push a grand piano on its own castors. The castors fixed to the bottom of most pianos are usually decorative, rather than practical, and are therefore at risk from being broken off, furthermore the act of pushing a piano on its own castors risks damaging your floor coverings (rip or crease carpets, scratch and gouge wood and stone floors). A small 300kg Baby Grand Piano with 3 castors would have 100kg bearing down on each castor with a contact surface of just 1cm. A 5ft baby grand piano is a realistic DIY proposition but for bigger items you would better off hiring a professional removal company.

Process for moving a Grand Piano (requires 3 or more men depending on piano weight):

1. Remove the large top piano lid (with its hinges) and wrap with woollen pads, multi-ply export wrapping paper or heavy duty furniture bubble.

2. Remove the foot pedal assembly (known as a Lyre), together with the music sheet holder and wrap as per point 1 above.

3. Position the piano shoe so that it runs next to the long straight side of the piano (i.e. the left side, opposite the curvy side). Place a wool blanket on top of the piano shoe.

4. Wrap the piano as per point 1 above, but leave a gap around the legs because these are coming off in the next step.

5. Now you need to remove the left legs. Identify what type of mechanism is holding the leg in place; it will require either knocking out or unbolting. If it's the 'knock out' type either thump it with the palm of your hand use a rubber mallet, but be careful not to damage the piano leg finish if using a rubber mallet, its best to place a folded blanket in front to dampen the blow. Lift the left corner up, remove the left corner leg, gently lower the left corner down onto the piano shoe and gently manipulate the piano so that it sits squarely on. Put a small identifier label on each leg (i.e. left, right, back), remove the remaining 2 legs off the piano and wrap them all carefully, making sure to keep all the fixings safe too.

6. Secure the piano onto the shoe using flat straps (don't use round rope or it will mark the casing).

7. You now need to put piano wheels under the piano shoe. Lift the smaller end of the piano (i.e. opposite the keyboard end) approx. 30 degree angle and slide the piano wheels underneath. Because the piano is heavier at the keyboard end, the wheels are not in placed the middle of the shoe, but a bit nearer the keyboard end in order to get a perfect balance.  Now lower end down onto the transport wheels and check it is balanced - you might need to have a couple of attempts to find the balancing point.

8. Unloading and setting up the piano is the same process in reverse.

9. When loading to a truck you will need an electric tail lift or a loading ramp.

If the truck has an electric lift, check the weight capacity of the lift is sufficient to carry the piano and crew. The carrying capacity of the electric lift will normally be written on the drop down tail board or on a specification plate attached to the back of the truck, close to the lift. If the lifting capacity of the vehicle lift is found to be insufficient, don't attempt to use it as this can cause damage to the mechanism.

If the truck has a loading ramp, check the angle of incline and width of the ramp is manageable for you. Also check the overall condition of the ramp is suitable to withstand the men and a piano standing on it (i.e. a Baby Grand Piano and 3men likely to be 550kg +). For DIY moving it would be desirable to have 2 persons pushing a Baby Grand Piano up the ramp and 2 persons walking backwards up the ramp pulling and guiding (obviously heavier pianos require more men). Proceed up the ramp in a slow and controlled manor, don't try and run up the ramp because the piano is top heavy and unstable on the wheels, so there is a risk of it toppling over.

10. Once inside the truck body, demount from the piano wheels and tie securely to the side of the vehicle using straps that are capable of holding the weight. Remember this is a heavy item, so breaking and accelerating forces during transit will be greatly magnified; if not secured properly, the piano could break free inside the vehicle with devastating consequences.

Using Professional Piano Removal Companies

The cost of moving a piano depends on the number of men required. The number of men is determined according to the weight of the piano and if there are any steps or stairs involved. Cooks of Cranleigh can easily perform piano removals in our local area at reasonable cost and in most circumstances we can give a quote over the phone. Where stair carries are involved or pianos of exceptional weight or value, we might need to come and view the item before quoting - surveys are free of charge and without obligation.

Cooks of Cranleigh can quickly and economically move pianos in our local area when in combination with other works. Our local areas for moving piano include local towns such as Woking, Guildford, Godalming, Farnham, Hindhead, Haslemere, Billingshurst, Horsham, Dorking, Reigate, Redhill, Leatherhead, Horsley, Cobham.

Contact us to learn more about our piano removals service

What clients say about our piano moving services:

"There were 2 pick up points for my move and Cooks managed everything with the minimum of fuss and very expertly. There were several very heavy boxes containing paperwork which they moved very well. They also offered any help I needed which made the move stress free for me. I was astounded at the professional way I was moved. The team all worked together and in a happy caring way and I felt very secure in their hands. I was by myself on the day and they took everything in their stride including moving my piano very expertly. Nothing was too much trouble for them what a great crew they were, I shall definitely recommend Cooks to all my friends." May2017 review published on ReferenceLine.

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