How to Handle Moving Something Above Your Weight Limit?
July 5, 2007 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Can you safely hire someone to lift something heavier than you can handle? Or are there safe means out there of moving something heavier than your ability to handle?

I had previously asked my fellow Mefites about whether or not I should take out my air conditioner when the weather gets colder. Although there were good weatherproofing strategies given, a Mefite who lives a few blocks from me confided in e-mail that after having left her air conditioner in the window last winter, she found herself freezing throughout most of it, despite insulation attempts. That, coupled with other remarks, has made me lean heavily towards taking it out of my window come fall and putting it in this large bin. (I can then drape a blanket over it and just have an endtable of sorts for the winter and following spring.)

However, my primary means of getting this done may not be available, and my secondary means is altogether shot. In the past, my landlord actually required tenants to have the building's superintendent put in or take out their A/Cs, to avoid potential damage to the windows. However, the building is in the process of being sold; I'm unsure of whether my new landlord will be similarly willing to assist. My backup means would have been, had the first fallen through, to ask my best friend to assist me in taking it out of the window. However, that friendship, sadly enough, looks as if it may have dissolved altogether — leaving me doing the "lone wolf" thing for a little bit.

I know that I'm able to lift a 50-lb. box of paper from the floor, but I also know that's near my maximum limit: I'm primarily focusing on weight loss at the moment, and plan to focus on muscle-building a little later in the journey. I also strained my back muscles (trapezius, erector spinae) a few years ago, and that's made me real wary of hurting them again and more significantly. The air conditioner is a bit over ninety pounds, so I'm fairly sure it's over my limit. (I've also seen stronger men then I have difficulty with it, I presume due to its dimensions — the UPS delivery guy was able to get it up the stairs, how I don't know, but the superintendent needed help to do it himself.)

If the new landlord proves unwilling to move it, I'm going to need to figure out some other way of getting it out of my window. Is this a situation where I could hire someone — in essence a "professional strongman" — to move the air conditioner into the bin? And if so, what steps could I take to (a) make sure I'm not giving access to my home to a thief, and (b) make sure he doesn't hurt something (or fake a hurt) and then sue me?

If the possibility of (a) and (b) make the above idea a bad one, any other ideas for how I might safely move the unit into the bin myself without endangering my back? I really don't want to do the "slipped or ruptured disc" thing, as you might imagine ...
posted by WCityMike to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
This seems like the sort of thing one hires a general purpose handyman from a handyman service for. I'd think if they're advertised in the yellow pages, they're probably legit but if you're worried about theft, I'm sure at least some of the agencies are bonded.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:51 AM on July 5, 2007

Couple of ideas:

1) Hire a couple of day laborers. Two strong people should be more than capable of moving even a very large air conditioner. Look/ask around local Home Depots.

2) The safest way to lift something is using your leg muscles, having your back and arms move as little as possible. If you're going to try lifting it yourself, get some straps and run them under the aircon. Tie loops that won't contract into both ends and loop your arms through them so they rest on the inside of your elbow joint. Lift with your legs, keeping everything else as rigid as possible.

3) You could probably rig up an a-frame if you're mechanically inclined, but there are lots of non-obvious ways to kill/maim yourself that way so I'd leave it as a very last ditch option.
posted by Skorgu at 9:58 AM on July 5, 2007

Nthing the suggestion of hiring a handyman (or day laborer) or two. In Michigan, they have a program where you can call the local unemployment office with your requirements for temporary help (called "casual labor"), and they'll find someone to fit your needs. You might also ask your building's maintenance person if he'd like to earn an extra $25 (or however much you're willing to pay) to move the unit for you.

One other thing, and I may be off base here, but it seems to be that once you plopped the AC unit in a plastic storage container, it will be hard to get it out again (short of turning the container on its side and scooching or dumping the AC out). If you're going to use it as an end table anyway, why not just drape a blanket over the AC itself instead of putting it into a container?
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:45 AM on July 5, 2007

Do you not still have a building superintendent? This is the kind of thing supes do all day every day. If the supe isn't big enough to move it by himself he has someone he can call. You, the landlord, and the supe share an interest in not having the A/C fall out the window and possibly damage the window on the way out; the supe will be happy to help out.

Tips are always appreciated but shouldn't strictly be necessary for this kind of thing.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:11 PM on July 5, 2007

If you throw the AC unit in a sealed bin you might want to add a desiccant pack of some kind to soak up any excess condensation to prevent mildew or rusting. It might also be a good idea to throw some nylon straps across the bin before placing the AC in it so you have straps already in place to lift it out.
posted by chairface at 12:38 PM on July 5, 2007

as well as the suggestions alreayd thrown out, You could try craigslist, though that won't help your fake hurt and thief worries.

You could also ask a co worker, neighbor, church mate, etc. If you preface the conversation with being a paid favor, you will likely get a good response. Good Luck
posted by imjosh at 12:41 PM on July 5, 2007

Even though I have never done much specific strength training, I am able to lift and move quite a lot of weight. I have also learned many methods of of moving heavy objects by myself, using leverage, weight transference, etc. You know, "work smart, not hard."

But there are a few things that are really difficult to move. There may be no good ways to grip, or no way to transfer the weight easily to a hand truck or dolly or other means of moving it. In those circumstances, yes, you need help. Either you and another person, or 2 people with you as "supervisor." As far as any liability for their safety, I won't venture a guess.

If you do decide to try it yourself, depending on the whole picture, here are some things to think about:

Can you move the air conditioner from the inside? Maybe push it inward, from the outside, then pull it in, onto something close to the same height as the window. That way, you are not lifting the weight at all, you are just transferring it. Just take it a little at a time, no need to rush or to just use brute strength. Use finesse instead. From there, you may be able to lower it by tilting it 90 degrees to a dolly or hand truck at floor level. Again you are not lifting the weight, you are kind of "rolling" it onto the dolly by finding the balancing point and easing it down. Once on the dolly, you should be able to strap it in and move it pretty easily.

Good luck.
posted by The Deej at 1:15 PM on July 5, 2007

Get some strong friends to help? Offer to pay in beer/pizza/whatever cuisine floats your boat?
posted by softlord at 7:24 PM on July 5, 2007

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