Can You Lay a Refrigerator On its Side?


Ideally, a refrigerator should not be laid on its side for any reason. In fact, some models can not be put on their side, but others can when the correct precautions are taken.

This even goes for minifridges, which comes to a surprise to people sometimes. Even with a minifridge, there is the possibility of significant damage if it is tilted on its side. Also, when moving these tiny versions of their giant cousins, moving one must be dealt with carefully.

You should always refer to the manual for your exact refrigerator model to see if it can be turned on its side. Checking the manual is something to do proactively before moving day.

Sometimes moving a refrigerator is not possible in the upright position. Assuming your model can be on its side, there are essential details to understand and steps to follow to protect the appliance during transport.

What Happens To A Refridgerator When It Is Laid On Its Side

A refrigerator is used to keep food and beverages at a safe temperature. The appliance utilizes coolant lines to maintain a controlled temperature.

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When a refrigerator is tipped on its side, oil from the refrigerator’s compressor can circulate from the compressor tubed to the coolant lines. Additionally, water in the lines can leak into the motor, affecting the operation of the appliance. Both pose a significant concern to the safety and performance of the appliance.

How To Moving A Refridgerator On Its Side

Once you know you need to move your refrigerator, and this model can be tilted if necessary, you need to be prepared and proactive in your approach. The last thing you want is for your fridge to be broken and need major work or for you to have to buy a new refrigerator after moving a perfectly good one.

Before you begin the moving process, review any moving instructions for your specific model in a user’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website. These typically will specify any special arrangements your appliance needs when moving. This includes which direction to lay it on and if it can even be laid on its side.

Some models are not designed ever to be laid on their side. In this case, you must find a way to transport the refrigerator upright.

When a refrigerator must be placed on its side for transport, proper prep and cleaning is essential to protect the appliance. Below you will find the three steps to move a refrigerator on its side.

3 Steps to Move A Refrigerator on Its Side

Step 1. Clean Out The Appliance

The appliance must be adequately cleaner out before you attempt to transport it. The food and beverages in the machine add weight to the already hefty piece. Additionally, the food and drinks are likely to spoil when the temperature is no longer kept at a safe, refrigerated level.

In order to preserve your food and beverages, transfer all of the items to insulated coolers (view on Amazon).

Next, unplug the machine at least three hours before you plan to move the machine.

Remove all the shelving to avoid shifting and breakage during transport. Crisper drawers can be removed or taped to stabilize them and protect your appliance during the move.

Doors are also at risk of being damaged during transport if not adequately immobilized. Protect the doors, handles, and hinges by taping them down before transport. Use tape (view on Amazon) that is strong enough but also will not leave a residue when removed. Alternatively, you can use ratchet straps (view on Amazon) to minimize the risk to your refrigerator doors, handles, and hinges.

Wrap the refrigerator power cord with a zip tie and use tape to bind it to the fridge side. This will keep the cord from being ripped. It also eliminates the chance of someone tripping over the cable while transporting the massive refrigerator.

Lastly, wrap your appliance with a moving blanket (view on Amazon) to minimize scratches and other damage t the machine in transport.

Step 2. Move the Appliance

Since the appliance is heavy and bulky, you need more than one person to move it properly. Use an appliance hand truck (view on Amazon) or shoulder dolly moving straps (view on Amazon) to move the appliance safely. These tools make moving the refrigerator easier and protect the movers from injury. If there are stairs, have people to spot you and guide the movers.

When you get the appliance in the truck, if there is no way to move it upright, turn it on its side to lay it down. If the compressor is on the left side, tilt it to the right side. If the compressor is on the right side, tip it on its left side. This minimizes the risk of damage to the coolant lines. Take note of the time you have laid the appliance on its side.

Next, stabilize the refrigerator in the truck with more ratchet straps or heavy pieces carefully securing the fridge in place.

Step 3. Set the Refridgerator Upright In Its New Home

After you’ve safely moved the appliance into its new home, leave the refrigerator standing upright for as long as it was sitting on its side or at least 4 hours.

For example, if the appliance was on its side for six and a half hours, leave the device standing upright for at least six and a half hours before plugging it back in.

Waiting time allows the oil that may have moved into the coolant lines to reflow back to the compressor.

Once you have waited the necessary period for your appliance, plug it in. The fridge may take up to three days to reach an average cooling temperature. If the refrigerator has food, it may happen more quickly but wait at least a day before putting food in to keep it at a safe temperature.

Loud Noises After Moving A Refrigerator On Its Side.

A refrigerator has a compressor that sits vertically inside the appliance on rubber feet to keep it stabilized. Tipping a refrigerator in its side can damage the rubber feet that the compressor relies on for stability. When these are damaged, the appliance will make a loud banging sound. In this instance, you can either buy replacement parts or contact an appliance repair company to review what parts are damaged and have them replaced.

If you have other issues and fear that the compressor may have been damaged or mishandled in the move, you should check into some other problems that arise with fridge compressors.

Moving a refrigerator is a major undertaking. Prepare for the move of this large appliance to set yourself up for a mode of safe transport. If tipping a fridge can be avoided, it should be. If you must transfer it on its side, be sure to follow the above guidelines for a safer move and the best chance of a successful outcome.

Do you have other questions about refrigerators? Is your fridge freezing your food or your freezer filling with ice? Is your freezer dripping into your refrigerator or, even worse, is your fridge freezing, and your freezer is feeling more like a fridge? Check out these resources to help you to troubleshoot these frustrating issues.

Knowing More About Your Fridge!

The refrigerator can be a complicated appliance to troubleshoot. Your fridge is one of the single most important kitchen appliances, keeping your family fueled with healthy food. Since the fridge is a considerable expense for a household, it is one you don’t want to make too often. Having a working fridge is crucial for any home, and fixing it is just one form of home improvement, but there are many more.

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