Can I Lay My Refrigerator on Its Side?

Refrigerator on Its Side

If you need to lay your refrigerator down for transport, you should lay it on its front or side. Avoid laying your refrigerator on its back, as this can lead to damage to the internal parts.

Additionally, after laying your refrigerator on its side, wait for an equal amount of time that it was on its side before switching it again. This allows for the refrigerator coolant to flow from the refrigerator coils back into the compressor.

What Happens to Your Refrigerator When You Lay It on Its Side?

If you are trying to answer the question, can refrigerators lay on their side, you may wonder what the answer is? Yes, this is possible, but it is not the best idea in most situations. However, it’s important to understand what may happen to the unit in this position.

When the refrigerator is in a horizontal position, the oil, typically held in the compressor by gravity, will begin to move out and then into the coolant lines. This can cause clogs. Some refrigerators must always remain upright, or permanent damage may occur. Some of the types of refrigerators that must remain upright include bottom freezer, built-in units, compact refrigerators, and French door style units.

What To Do After a Refrigerator Has Been on Its Side?

You may wonder, can you lay a refrigerator on its side for 30 minutes? There is no black and white answer to this question since it depends on your unit type. While this is true, if your refrigerator has been on its side (regardless of if you did it or not), you need to know what to do next.

After a refrigerator is on its side, it needs to remain upright for a while. The amount of time it should remain upright needs to be equal to the amount of time it was on its side (as mentioned above). 

This allows any oil that moved into the coolant lines to return to the compressor, clearing the coolant lines. For example, if your refrigerator was on its side for 30 minutes, it should be left upright for 30 minutes before plugging it in to use it again.

Can a Refrigerator be Transported on Its Side?

If you plan to lay your refrigerator down when moving it, place it on its side or the front (if there is no way to keep it upright). However, it’s not a good idea to lay the unit on its back. The weight of the unit’s body on the working parts and components can cause permanent damage. This is true even if they are not exposed or directly impacted during the moving process.

Consider reading: How to move a refrigerator upstairs

How Can I Prevent Damage to My Refrigerator After Transporting It on Its Side?

If you moved your refrigerator while it was on its side or delivered it to you on its side, you should not plug it in immediately. If you do, there is a risk you will damage the unit’s compressor.

It’s best to leave your refrigerator upright and not plugged in for the same amount of time it was lying on its side. If you aren’t sure how long the refrigerator was on its side because someone else delivered it, a good rule of thumb is to give it a minimum of 24 hours before you plug it in.

You may wonder why you have to wait 24 hours to plug in a fridge after it has been lying on its side. This gives any oil that made its way into the coolant lines time to move out before you again use the unit.

Some Fridges Must Stay Upright

Some refrigerators must always remain upright. Some of the designs that require this include:

  • Bottom freezer units
  • Built-in units
  • Compact refrigerators
  • French door style units

Refer to the user’s manual if you aren’t sure if you can move your refrigerator on its side. The manufacturer should provide you clear instructions regarding how you should and should not move a refrigerator.

You may also wonder what happens if you turn the fridge upside down. This is not recommended since doing so may damage the internal components of the unit.

Tips on How to Transport Your Refrigerator Safely

If you want to move your refrigerator from one location to another safely, some tips can help.

Unplug the Refrigerator a Few Hours Before Moving

Be sure to unplug your refrigerator and give it time to cool down before moving it. If you have a built-in ice maker and water filter in the unit, make sure you disconnect these ahead of time. You can find instructions on how to do this in your owner’s manual.

Once you have unplugged and disconnected your refrigerator, protect it by rolling the cord up and attaching it to the back of the unit.

Empty the Fridge

Before trying to move your refrigerator, be sure it is prepped by emptying all the contents. You can either throw the items away or store them in a cooler. If you choose to keep the food items in a cooler, make sure you have plenty of ice to keep the food chilled.

It’s smart to plan and eat all your perishable items a few weeks before you move. Also, meal prep during this time will help you avoid having to go to the grocery store repeatedly.

Once all the food is out, clean the surfaces of your refrigerator well. You can use an all-natural cleaner made of water and baking soda. It’s also wise to melt any ice remaining in your freezer. If needed, you can use a hairdryer to help speed up the melting process. Doing this will help you avoid water leaks while you move the unit.

Consider Defrosting the Fridge

As mentioned above, it is a good idea to let the unit thoroughly defrost before moving it. This will allow you to clean up all the water now and avoid leaks and issues while moving and when it gets to its new location.

Remove the Shelves

Most refrigerators come with removable shelves and drawers. Be sure to remove these before moving the unit. If you don’t remove these components, they may come loose during the move and break or damage other components. If you remove them ahead of time, this won’t be an issue.

Secure the Refrigerator to a Dolly Using a Strap

Most refrigerators have wheels. This makes moving it forward simple. However, to ensure no damage occurs, you can lift the fridge by moving it slightly forward and then place furniture sliders under the back of the unit. Once you have done this, get in front of the unit, hold it on both sides and push or rock it back and forth while moving it forward. You can pull it straight out and forward in some cases, but you will have to figure out which option is best for your unit.

When you are ready to put the unit on an appliance dolly, get someone to help. One person should lift the unit slightly while the other moves the dolly beneath it. Tighten the straps around the refrigerator once it is in place.

Fixing a Refrigerator After It Was Laid Down

If possible, you should make sure the refrigerator remains upright while moving it. It doesn’t matter what size or type of unit you have. That’s because if you place the fridge on its side, it may cause damage to the compressor, which means the unit can’t work properly.

If your refrigerator was moved lying down, or if it has been in this position for an extended amount of time, be sure you provide adequate “resting” time before plugging it back in. Once oil moves through the compressor and coolant lines, there are few things you can do to fix the problem. In most cases, if this happens and you turn on the fridge too soon, you will have to replace it, as the repairs would be more than a new unit.

Keeping Your Refrigerator Safe and Working Properly

Do you want to ensure that your refrigerator makes it from Point A to Point B without issues? If so, be sure to keep the information above in mind.

It is not ideal to move the unit on its side, back, or in any other position besides upright, if you can avoid it. This is going to prevent the possibility of damage and other issues. However, if you don’t have any other choice but to lie the unit on its side, make sure you provide plenty of time for the fridge to “rest” before you plug it back in an attempt to use it. Doing this will help ensure no permanent damage occurs and that the unit works properly now and in the future.

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