Will my old pump organ send me falling to my death in my sleep?
April 8, 2011 12:34 PM   Subscribe

I just bought a late 1800's pump organ from a church. It's still there, but I am planning on moving it to my room in the third/top floor of the house soon. My roommate (who is often a contrarian and rain-on-your-parade dick) brought up the idea that perhaps the floor can't handle the weight. I don't know whether or not this is plausible, but it has brought up a lot of past fears from falling through the roof of my childhood garage and I need to figure this out before it maybe kills me.

I do not know the weight of the organ. When I checked the organ out, I was able to tip it fairly easily with one arm. It's about the size of this pump organ, and NOT this one.

Sorry that this is kind of vague since I do not know the exact weight of the organ, nor much about the house I live in. But the idea freaks me out. Any ideas?
posted by Corduroy to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Unless you live in a ridiculously weak and dangerous building, I wouldn't worry about it at all. I lived in an apartment with a late 1800s pump organ for a while, and it didn't weigh nearly as much as a sofa or a dresser or wardrobe, let alone as much as a refrigerator or a piano. Can your apartment's floor handle a dresser full of clothes? If so, it can handle a pump organ.
posted by The World Famous at 12:40 PM on April 8, 2011

And a fraction the weight of a bathtub full of water, don't sweat it.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 12:44 PM on April 8, 2011

If you're putting in one organ, against a main wall, then I wouldn't worry about it. If you were going to store multiple organs (or whole libraries, etc.) on the main floor then you'd have to start worrying.
posted by lizbunny at 12:48 PM on April 8, 2011

For comparison sake, and to help convince your roomate, think of it as weight per square foot. A person can easily weigh a couple hundred pounds, and occupy a square foot without fall through your floor, I assume. Does a sqaure foot chunk of that organ weigh more than a person?
posted by The Deej at 12:49 PM on April 8, 2011

My pump organ is very light - significantly lighter than a piano, even. You'll be fine.
posted by jillithd at 12:52 PM on April 8, 2011

Buy renter's insurance if you are not homeowners and tell him you will be responsible if it pitches through the floor, which it won't.
posted by jessamyn at 12:52 PM on April 8, 2011

Best answer: Modern residential construction (either houses or apartment buildings) are designed for a minumum of 40 pounds per square foot of floor load in addition to the weight of the framing, ceiling below, plywood, walls, etc. This is called the residential floor live load. Many floors are stronger than this because the framing is sized to minimize deflection or bounce. And that load has to be considered over the entire length of the floor framing during design, just in case someone wants to fill a room with boxes piled high, so being partially loaded by pieces of furniture gives a big benefit too (lots of open space).

Put one end of the organ on a scale, or on two scales on adjacent corners. The move the scale or scales and repeat for the other side, just in case the center of mass isn't at the physical center of the organ. Add up the weights and you'll have a good idea of the real weight, within a few percent.

Divide the weight by the footprint (length x width). If you're under 40 psf, you're golden. If you're under 60 psf it's not a slam dunk but someone with wood design experience could check it out. If it's over 60 psf it's probably not a good idea without having an engineer check out the floor.
posted by Itinakak at 1:03 PM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

FWIW, we moved an upright piano into our first house without realizing the floor joists were not the 2x8s 14 inches on center as modern code requires (or something like that), but actually 2x4s 20 inches on center. The piano never crashed through the floor or otherwise showed any signs of being a problem.

We don't live there anymore.
posted by bondcliff at 1:11 PM on April 8, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I'm much relieved. I'll see if I can get an estimate when I pick it up, but I'm pretty sure two people would be able to carry it without huge effort, so it should be fine. Thank you all for the affirmation. Excited!
posted by Corduroy at 1:26 PM on April 8, 2011

It would have to weigh a terrifying amount before it would be a serious structural concern. If it weighed that much, there's no way you'd be able to get it up there. You should be fine.
posted by Slinga at 8:25 PM on April 8, 2011

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