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Getting Boilers down a flight of stairs safely

Joseph_4 Member Posts: 271
Hello out there. Does anyone have good advice on getting cast iron boilers 400 to 800Lb down a flight of stairs. Everytime I do it with my guys it seems like a crazy danger.. Often the customer has nice wood polished stairs or carpeted stairs. We have tried multiple layers of plastic , canvas tarps, cut up boxes on the treads, builders paper taped down with duct tape blue masking tape etc.. so as to protect the customer's property, but then simply walking down these stairs becomes crazy slipery.. The heavy the boiler is , is a locamotive waiting to pummel those on bottom. It really bothers me.
Any good Ideas that work?


  • Mike
    Mike Member Posts: 94
    My company has been hiring a company that moves the boilers. We disconnect the old, they remove it, and bring down the new one. You can't beat that. No stress no 'tworries. What would take 3 of use, 1/2 a day, with stair climbers, is done in an hour or 2. The know just how to move the darn things. How to make those turns. Can't beat that. And nobody gets hurt.
  • Joseph_4
    Joseph_4 Member Posts: 271
    where is your company located?
  • mercedes
    mercedes Member Posts: 67
    Try this it seem to work for everything maybe boilers?


    Safety FIRST always. Little humor. Happy Thanksgiving to all
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 644
    Electric hand cart. Doesn't take many installs to pay for it's self.
    Miss Hall's School service mechanic, greenhouse manager,teacher and dog walker
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,297
    The contraptions in the video do work well enough, but I wouldn't be willing to use them (even on a spinet piano, which isn't that heavy) on stairs. Why? Because some poor **** is below the weight, and if he slips or his partner slips, it's not going to end well.

    If I have to more pianos -- and I do from time to time -- I hire a team which does it for a living (I call them Curly, Moe and Larry -- but they know their trade) and has all the proper equipment -- including a block and tackle arrangement placed at the head of the stairs to control the lowering of the piano (or, in this case, boiler). I'm not unduly concerned about the plaster or floor finish or what have you -- but trust me. Scratching, never mind dropping, a $150,000 Steinway D will ruin your whole day.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,506

    The contraptions in the video do work well enough, but I wouldn't be willing to use them (even on a spinet piano, which isn't that heavy) on stairs. Why? Because some poor **** is below the weight, and if he slips or his partner slips, it's not going to end well.

    How strong are you? Spinet is heavy and awkward. At least they took the front legs off. Funniest home videos has plenty that didn't.
    If he slips, it's 3 stooges time-bottom man falls, piano falls on him, top guy strapped in and dragged down on top of both. I use those straps for carrying/moving oil tanks, but on flat ground.

    I agree with electric stair climbing cart, and equally important, shoring up the steps. 800lbs plus 2 guys on rickety basement steps sounds like a disaster at best.
  • nibs
    nibs Member Posts: 511
    The best tool for moving heavy stuff, is between our ears, take the time to think it through. Never moved a boiler, but safes, pianos and freezers are right up there.
    Go slow, slide the load up or down stairs on planks with one or more safety lines or winches, never let anyone be below the load. Lets all go home in the evening to brag about how we done 'er.
  • GBart
    GBart Member Posts: 746
    FIRST AND FOREMOST is to check the integrity of the stairs, wooden cellar stairs that are held in by two 10 penny nails at the top are not strong enough, we used to carry wood to support them, remember it's the boiler weight PLUS the humans that is on the stairs,,,,,,,,,,many many people have taken the ride down and the landing more than sucks
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,580
    edited November 2018
    I lowered my 500 pound boiler down a short flight with my wife.

    I built a six foot gantry on top, another at the bottom, strapped the boiler tight to a refrigerator hand truck.

    Attached a chain hoist to the top gantry, another hoist to the bottom gantry and the hooks thru bull rings on hand truck handle and lower frame).

    My wife raised the boiler 8" at the top gantry, I pulled the bottom of boiler from the bottom gantry until boiler was above stairs and parallel with them. The my wife lowered her hoist while I raised mine. Inch by inch until wheels touched down in basement. About an hour. No danger. No injuries. No deaths. No sweat.

    This will give you an idea of how we did it.

  • DZoro
    DZoro Member Posts: 1,048
    Escalara climber with pallet forks. Forks help you move the weight of the boiler for proper balance while going up and down. I believe the capacity is 1,000lbs. Worth every penny.
  • Dave0176
    Dave0176 Member Posts: 1,177
    I have the Escalera 1200 lb standard climber. It works great every time.
    DL Mechanical LLC Heating, Cooling and Plumbing 732-266-5386
    NJ Master HVACR Lic# 4630
    Specializing in Steam Heating, Serving the residents of New Jersey


    I cannot force people to spend money, I can only suggest how to spend it wisely.......
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,907
    I hired a guy to remove an old CI oil burner from a creepy basement and he showed up with a Toro Dingo mini skid steer. Drove it down the stairs, picked up the boiler, and drove it back up the stairs. He was only on site for 15 minutes total. Best $400 I ever spent lol that would've taken me all weekend. These were concrete stairs directly to the outdoors but the boiler was around 2 corners all the way across the basement. My plan was to hook it on the Ford and drag it up the stairs on skids, but getting it across the basement was another task
  • flat_twin
    flat_twin Member Posts: 350
    "This requires a little thought..."

    Erin Holohan HaskellGrallert
  • Joseph_4
    Joseph_4 Member Posts: 271
    thanks for all the input.
    Joe.. for the first time we took off the entire jacket. made load a lot more concentrated and non awkward. bought new appliance hand truck. my 2 guys got it down before i got there.
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,971
    For what it's worth, we NEVER EVER cover the stairs. Disaster waiting to happen. Tell the homeowner that there may be damage to the stairs and they should budget accordingly
  • castiron
    castiron Member Posts: 2
    For me I would strip boiler and use plank and strap and slide it down step it will move slow and easy and safely without damaging steps do it all the time
  • willasdad
    willasdad Member Posts: 23
    Quite a long time ago, I found that this scenario was my least favorite in the field. I’d rather do freeze ups for two days straight then lug old boilers up shotty stairs. I can vividly recall one job that had what they called a ‘pancake’ boiler. Solid steel cased cylindrical shaped boiler, no getting to the sections. A quick attempt to lift this thing on a standard hand truck left me thinking the two older guys at the bottom were pulling a fast one on the kid to see how strong I was. But this was no joke, they were pushing and we weren’t going anywhere, accept back to the shop for the electric hand truck. This thing was built like a tank, worm driven off a car battery, it had to be a hundred and twenty pounds itself. I loaded it up into the pick up as the ‘old man’ sneered at me through the haze of his cigarette smoke. I knew he thought we were wimps. And by comparison to what he’d been through, his opinion is understandable. But there’s a big difference between being a wimp, and being wise and safe. Three guys, probably a 5-600 lb boiler and the climbing hand truck on those old stairs, and that was the safe option. This was just not cool in my book, and cast a tall enough shadow on my opinion of boiler day that it grew to dread them. Loved it once they were out, that’s when the fun started.
    Fast forward a number of years, on a side job with one of those aforementioned Co workers, and we were yanking another Goliath. Fortunately this time we had concrete stairs and we split the beast in sections to go out. With just the two of us, even the sections were heavy, but manageable. But I’ll never forget when we were finished with the last section, the old timer turns to me and says, now go get the new boiler out of my truck and bring it down. Ha Ha ‘ You’ll be up to help me? Or somebody else showing up?’ ‘ Just go get the new boiler, you’ll be fine’. I couldn’t believe my eyes legs and arms. Gas fired condensing boiler. Was like moving a heavy AC window unit. Things were gonna get better I said to myself.
    Fast forward again, and I’m no longer in that field, life happens. But I recently lent a hand to my own boiler going up my own basement steps ( concrete ), with a newer aluminum stair climber. Was rated for 800, and it still took four of us guiding and heaving. I suddenly found myself praying as I did the day of the pancake boiler, ‘ I hope the battery on this thing is good!!’ Alas out she went, but not without the scary reminder of just how dangerous those scenarios are. I truly believe that a number of Yoga positions must have been modeled after the many different contortions plumbers find themselves in moving boilers and cast iron tubs. The last thing anyone wants to see is a plumber in Yoga pants! Be careful out there fellas, and get home safe, every day.