What happens when you lay a refrigerator on its side?

What happens when you lay a refrigerator on its side?

It is commonly accepted that if you are moving a refrigerator you cannot transport it lying down, and it has to be moved in the upright position.  For some models this remains true, so do check your owner’s manual – if you have to move it lying down though, and your model does not prohibit that then here we take a look at what the issues are and what you can do to make sure that your refrigerator isn’t damaged.

If you are going to move your refrigerator, upright or lying down, the first step is to turn off the electricity supply and allow the freezer section to defrost and the refrigerator to warm to ambient temperature – two hours at least, but overnight is preferable.  That way all of the liquids contained within the cooling system are settled.

This is a lovely time when it’s pulled out to make sure that it is thoroughly cleaned and so are all of the loose shelves – do remember to clean down the door seal.

Next, remove all of the loose items from inside first to make sure that they don’t suffer any damage.  The shelving, salad drawer, any removable parts need to be taken out.

Even if you are careful to lie the refrigerator hinge side up you still run the risk of the door swinging open, potentially with the weight of the fridge on it if it is lying down, or when you are moving it.  Before you move your fridge secure the door closed using tape or encircling the fridge entirely with a strap.  This will make sure that you don’t damage the hinges.

If you are not moving the unit immediately then don’t secure the door until you are ready to move it  You do not want to have the door closed for more than 24 hours without the refrigerator being switched on.

Do make sure that as you secure the door you include the power cable and this isn’t left loose to trip over!

If you are moving the refrigerator by hand then make sure you have enough people-power to manhandle it, of course, the most important thing is that you do not want to damage your back, but also you do not want to drop it or cause damage to the outside of the refrigerator.  A sack truck will make it much easier to move your cumbersome heavy unit if you can borrow one for the day, you may even want to consider hiring one for the day it will make a difficult job much easier.

Before moving your refrigerator check the route that you are going to follow – and the width of the doors you have to get through!  If there are steps to be traversed then be sure that everyone involved knows how you are intending to navigate down (or up) them, and that the refrigerator will fit.  This isn’t something you want to be working out when you are already half way up!

Let’s take a look at the biggest problem with lying your refrigerator down on its side.  The refrigerator runs utilising a compressor which is both a motor and a pump which moves the refrigerant around the system and keeps the inside of the unit cold.

The refrigerator is designed to be upright at all times, and when you lie it down there is a possibility that the oil from the compressor will seep into the tubes carrying the coolant.  To minimize the risk then always make sure that the coolant lines are uppermost when you lie the refrigerator down.

Cover the fridge with a blanket for protection, and make sure that it is strapped so that it can’t move about during transit.

The advice to leave the refrigerator to stand over movement is to allow the oil to transition back to the compressor and clear the coolant lines.  The suggestion is that the refrigerator should be allowed to stand for a time equal to that which is was lying down for.  So, don’t be impatient, allow it to stand and you will minimize the risk of damaging your refrigerator.

The best advice remains to always transport your refrigerator upright whenever possible, it is sensible to allow it to stand for a short while even then, but if you do have to move the refrigerator lying down then leaving it to stand is vital.

Author: Richard Forest

A BFA in interior design major Richard developed his interest in home automation issues and interior design. Working initially on print publications and then online during vacations and alongside his study. Online website publication was a short step and initially, Richard worked alongside friends setting up reliable online platforms. Setting up Home Morphing was a logical progression where Richard could control the reliability of the reviews and make sure that his name was linked with a site where he could offer value to visitors. Richard is enjoying post-graduate life and working on his own projects with no deadlines. Having moved into his own home the opportunity to spend time researching home-based products is a gift. Read more about Richard Forest on our About Page.