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Unbroken: How to Protect Electronics & Fragile Items During a Move

June 25, 2014

It happens to everyone. One precarious step combined with loose padding, and next thing you know, your precious and fragile item –iPhone, mirror, TV, or laptop – is out of your hands and onto the cold, hard ground below. If you are lucky, your item will survive with nothing more than a few scratches. For those less fortunate, you'll be facing hundreds of dollars trying to replace or repair the damaged item. With these smart packing tips, you can be assured that your fragile items will arrive to your new place in the same condition that you packed them in – unbroken.

Preparing for a Move

packing electronics and fragile items

Before you can move or store any electronics or fragile items, you'll need to gather a few supplies to keep your items safe en route to their next destination. We've highlighted some of the items that you may need, many of which can be found at a CubeSmart Superstore near you:

  • Bubble wrap
  • Packing tape
  • Cardboard boxes or the original product packaging
  • Labels or permanent markers
  • Packing paper
  • Plastic, zipper-locked bags
  • Pliable cardboard
  • Scissors

When packing any battery-operated devices, such as remotes, be sure to remove the batteries first. When batteries are stored in unused devices for extended periods of time, corrosion will occur, which can damage the electronic components of the device. For devices with removable media, such as game consoles and DVD players, you should also check to make sure all disks or cartridges are removed. Similarly, damage to the device and media could occur if stored in the device for long periods of time.

Packing Electronic Items
When transporting electronic devices, how well the item is packed can determine if the item will arrive with any damage. While re-packaging the item in its original packaging is best, those materials may no longer be available. If that's the case, you'll need to be a bit resourceful to ensure that your items are protected during the move.

Start by checking the owner's manual if see if there are any special packing or moving instructions. If you can't find them, most sites provide online versions of these documents at the manufacturer's website. Print out a copy and use these document storage tips so you'll have the documents whenever you need them once your move into your new place.

Next, you'll need to gather all the right materials for packing your devices. Use packing tape to close one side of a cardboard box and line the bottom of it with 2-3 layers of bubble wrap. Then, slide the electronic item into a cardboard box and close the open flaps as a test to see if the item fits. If it does, carefully remove the item and wrap the item in at least two layers of wrap. If there is a considerable amount of space between the sides of the cardboard box and your item, you should line the insides of the box with additional bubble wrap to prevent the item from repositioning during the move.

Once the device has been bubble-wrapped, insert it into the cardboard box. Place any wires or accessories into a plastic bag and wrap the bag once in bubble wrap. Use additional packaging materials, such as bubble wrap or packing paper, to fill in any excess space. Slip the plastic bag with all of the device's accessories and the owner's manual inside and seal the box using packing tape.

Depending on whether you're moving or are putting this item in long-term storage, you may want to indicate where the box should be placed. For example, write "Living room" for the new 64" LCD TV that you just bought but label the box with the old 24" from your old bedroom with "storage unit." This way, you and your movers will be able to easily identify and organize all of your things into the moving truck and your home.

However, if you are planning to store that massive flat screen for long-term storage, make sure you reserve a climate-controlled unit at your local CubeSmart to protect it from damage. Storing such items in a garage, attic, or basement could, leave you with a very expensive bulletin board or paperweight. Cold weather could cause the metal parts to contract and the LCD screens in computers or TVs to freeze. The heat and humidity throughout summer could likewise weaken metal parts by placing stress on soldered components as the metal expands while humidity could result in the feared "water damage" that could render your electronic useless. Prevent that from happening by storing electronics in a climate-controlled storage unit instead.

Packing Fragile Items
A little preparation and patience will help you keep fragile items safe in during a move. Make sure to set enough time aside to properly wrap and pack fragile items. Doing so will help prevent you from rushing to pack things items at the last minute, which could result in unnecessary damage. To help you keep these items safe, we've provided smart packing tips for the most popular fragile items:

  • Plates
    • Wrap each plate in bubble wrap and secure with tape. Pack these items vertically in small to medium sized boxes with crumpled packing paper lining the top and bottom of the box. For extra security, place paper in between each standing plate.
  • Glasses
    • Crumble paper inside glasses and individually wrap glasses with packing paper. Line small or medium boxes with packing paper and layer additional paper in the spaces around the glasses. When packing glasses into boxes, be sure to place the heaviest items on the bottom and lighter pieces near the top.
    • As an alternative, use cell packs to store and transport glasses vertically. About.com shows you how.
  • Lamps
    • Place lamp shades in its own box with the flat side down with paper packed around it. Bases can be packed in larges boxes if necessary and use bubble wrap wherever appropriate.
  • Pictures, frames, and mirrors
    • Picture frames can be packed in paper-lined medium boxes with crumpled paper in between each piece. If the frames are more than 8 inches, they should be packed vertically similar to plates. In addition, each frame should be individually wrapped in packing paper.
    • Pictures and mirrors less than 3 feet size can be packed in a similar manner as picture frames. However, if the item is larger, it should be secured with a moving blanket, wrapped in plastic, and moved separately.
  • Large Oddly-shaped Items
    • Wrap the entire piece in bubble wrap and secure with tape. Place it on a large piece of pliable cardboard and place an identical piece on top of it. Then bend the ends of the cardboard so that they meet and secure them with tape. Wrap additional tape around the piece if necessary or to create additional protection. Place the piece in a paper or bubble-wrapped lined box that is roughly the same size as the objects, filling any gaps with crumpled paper. Lastly, tape the box securely and mark the box fragile.
  • Porcelain or glass figurines
    • Place small figurines that have many protruding parts in the individual sections of an egg carton. Test to make sure the lid can close properly packing the egg carton away.
    • For items that are too tall or big for an egg carton, fill a plastic container with shredded paper and place the items inside.
    • For large items, wrap them in packing paper and place them in a box filled with shredded paper or bubble wrap. Use shredded paper or bubble wrap to fill in the gaps between items or to create additional protection when layering items. When finished, place the egg cartons and plastic containers with smaller figurines on top of the box and secure with tape.

With these smart packing tips, you'll never have to worry about breaking or damaging an item during a move again. For additional moving and packing tricks, check out our guide for smarter moving.

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