Transporting A Refrigerator On Its Side (Is It A Good Idea?)

I don’t think there’s anything more stressful than moving. You have to pack up all of your belongings in boxes and cart them all to a new location. When I moved, I chose not to leave the refrigerator like some people. The only way I could get the refrigerator out the door was to lay it on its side, which I wasn’t sure If I could do or not. 

I found out that you can lay certain model refrigerators on their side, but it has to be on the left. You can’t lay a refrigerator on its right side because the oil will run out of the compressor lines causing leakage. You absolutely cannot lay a refrigerator flat on its back because it can damage internal parts. 

 I was relieved to find out that I could safely transport my refrigerator on its side. However, there are a couple of steps that need to be performed to ensure the safe and easy transportation of your refrigerator to its next destination. 

Can You Transport A Refrigerator On Its Side?

Yes, but only on its left side and for certain makes and models. Not all refrigerators can be transported on their side and must always remain upright. Some of these include French door, bottom freezer, compact, and built-in refrigerators.

When moving a refrigerator, turn it off and unplug it overnight before moving it to give it time to defrost.

Take out the drawers and shelves then tape the doors shut. Lastly, if your refrigerator will be shut for more than a day, put some activated charcoal or baking soda inside of it to absorb odors. 

You should never try to move a refrigerator on your own. It’s safer to find somebody who can help you move it. 

Who Can Help You Move Your Refrigerator

Friends or family would be the obvious answer, but not everybody has that ability.

In this case, I would recommend a moving company for this. On average, a moving company will charge $25-$50 per hour per mover for local moves. Long-distance moves can be more expensive, costing upwards of $1,500 or more

Moving Company Cost
Image Credits: www.onpointmoving.com

It all depends on how large your house is as well. A studio and one bedroom can cost $400-$480. Two-bedroom homes can cost between $600 and more than $1,000. Three bedrooms cost $800-$1,600 or more. Four or more bedrooms will cost between $2,000 and $3,000 to move. 

If you’re not hiring the moving company to drive your belongings to your new home, you may be able to acquire a discounted rate since all they have to do is help you pack the refrigerator up. 

Once you have your arrangements set, there are preparations you need to make before transport. 

How To Prep A Fridge For Transport

Whether you’re moving the fridge on your own or hiring a moving company, you’ll need to take some steps that will ensure the fridge is moved safely and successfully. 

  • Turn off and disconnect the fridge a day in advance to allow everything to defrost properly. 
  • Clean and remove all food from the fridge. If you leave food in there, you’ll have a gross mess to clean up and a smell that may never come out of the fridge. 
  • Make sure all shelves are either removed or secured inside the refrigerator. Wrap glass shelves with linens, furniture blankets, and towels. Place them back inside the fridge. 
  • Remove the refrigerator from its current location, ensuring not to scratch the floors. 
  • Secure the doors with tape to keep them from flying open. 
  • If your refrigerator is expensive or you just want to ensure maximum protection, wrap it in a furniture blanket and tape it all up. 
  • Measure how wide your doorways are to ensure the fridge will fit through. 
  • Attach the appliance to the dolly by using a strap that has been wrapped around the whole unit. Secure the straps so the fridge can’t flop over. 
  • Lastly, always go backwards up the ramp. You can have another person stand behind it to help push. 

If you’re moving it with a truck, there are a few different ways you can secure the fridge. 

How To Transport A Refrigerator With A Car Or Truck

Transporting a refrigerator with a truck is pretty simple, but impossible to do in a car. If you plan to move a refrigerator with a truck and no ramp, you should follow all preventative measures mentioned earlier for general moving procedure.

Transporting refrigerator by car

Once you get to the point where you’re ready to move the fridge onto the truck, then you should take these steps

  • Prepare enough space in the truck for the refrigerator to stand vertically against the cab of the truck. 
  • Get the truck as close to the ground as possible to make lifting easier. 
  • Open the tailgate and drape a blanket over the lip of it. 
  • Back the fridge against the tailgate so that the bars of the dolly are against it. 
  • Have one person lift the fridge from the back of the truck and one person on the ground lifting it from the bottom. 
  • Push the fridge against the front cab and place a piece of cardboard between the fridge and window to protect it. 
  • Strap it in place securely. 

Proper Way To Secure A Refrigerator

To ensure your refrigerator doesn’t slide around or fall over during transport, there are certain ways you can strap it to your vehicle to keep it safe. 

The first thing you should do after you’ve put the fridge on the truck is to put the hook of a ratchet strap through a contact point in the bed of the truck and wrap it around the front of the fridge. Take another ratchet strap and put it over the fridge, tightly securing it. 

The fridge will stand at least a foot or two above the top of the truck, so watch out for low bridges and trees. 

Each type of refrigerator will have alternate ways of transporting. 

Transporting Your Refrigerator

When it comes time for transport, it’s best to keep it standing upright to minimize damage to the sealed system and prevent damage to loose items. If standing it up can’t be avoided, here are the best ways to transport each type of fridge. 

Top-Freezer Models

These should be laid on their side opposite the hinges so the door remains closed. You could also use tape to ensure the doors stay closed. It should be a type of tape that won’t leave residue on the doors, especially stainless steel. 

Top-Freezer Models Refrigerator

Side-by-Side Models

These refrigerators have a freezer on one side and a refrigerator on the other and open opposite of one another. When transporting these types, lay them down on the freezer side. The door is less likely to open from this position. If it’s a built-in model, follow the below instructions. 

Side-by-Side Models Refrigerator

Built-In Models

Built-in refrigerators must always remain in an upright position under all circumstances. It can briefly be placed in a tilted position when placed on a dolly to transport it. Some column models can be tilted back when placed on a dolly but should be done before the packing is removed from the unit. 

Built-In Models Refrigerator

French Door & Bottom-Freezer Models

These should always remain upright, but they can be tilted to get through doorways and onto vehicles for transportation. 

French Door & Bottom-Freezer Models

Compact Models

These should always remain upright due to the design of the drain. If laid down, the drain water could run back into the appliance unless it’s new out of the box. If it does need to be put on its side, then you should turn it off a day in advance to allow it to drain. 

How Long Can You Lay A Refrigerator On Its Side?

There’s no set time that you can leave your refrigerator on its side, but the longer you do, the higher the chance is of compressor oil getting into the coolant lines will be. 

However, I want to specify that any time you lay a refrigerator on its side, you have to keep it upright for that same amount of time before plugging it back in.

So if it was on its side for 2 hours, you have to keep it upright and unplugged for at least 2 hours before plugging it back in. This will give the coolant lines enough time to return any oil that may have gotten into the lines to return to the compressor.  

So what happens when you lay a refrigerator on its side?

What Happens When You Do So?

Whenever you lay a refrigerator on its side, there’s always a chance that compressor oil can leak into the coolant lines. 

When compressor oil leaks into the coolant lines, it can ruin the internal mechanisms of the fridge.

This is why it’s suggested that you don’t lay it on its side if at all possible. If you have to, make sure to stand it upright for the same amount of time you had it laying down.

This will allow any oil that made its way into the coolant lines to go back to the compressor. 

The best way to avoid this, aside from not laying it down at all, is to lay it on its left side or whichever side is opposite the compressor lines.

Some manufacturers will specify which side you can lay it on, so it’s good practice to look through the manual if at all possible before transportation. Once your refrigerator is in its new location, there’s more to do. 

After Transporting Your Refrigerator

Once your fridge is in its new location, the first thing you should do is clean the outside of it to remove any dust or debris it may have brought home with it. Vacuum dust from the vents at the bottom and back to keep it working well. 

Let the appliance sit for as long as it was laying down. Connect water lines and power cords then allow it to freeze and cool for at least 24 hours before putting food in it to keep the food safe. 

The FDA recommends that refrigerators be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. 

How Long After Moving A Refrigerator Can I Turn It On?

This depends on how long you had it laying on its side. If you didn’t have it laying on its side at all, you can plug it back in immediately after you’ve placed it in its new location. 

If you had it laying on its side, you should wait the same amount of time you had it on its side. If it was on its side for 3 hours, you should wait 3 hours before plugging it back in. If you had it on its side for a day, you should wait at least a day to plug it back in. 


Waiting will allow any oil from the lines to go back to the compressor to avoid any type of malfunction that it may cause. 

Storing A Refrigerator 

If you’re storing your fridge as opposed to putting into your home, there are a couple of things you can do to keep it safe from pests and the elements. 

First, you always want to store the fridge upright to avoid damage to the inside mechanisms and sealed systems. 

Next, keep the door open to prevent odors and moisture from building up. Never place anything between the door and fridge to keep it open if you see it’s pushing against the seal. This can cause damage to the seal and cause more issues once you begin to use it again. 

Lastly, cover the fridge with a moving blanket or a sheet to avoid dust build-up and/or damage. 

Check Your Brands Website or Blog For Helpful And Safe Tips Before Moving Your Refrigerator

Many manufacturers will have a section on their website that may be helpful for you when it comes time to move your refrigerator.

If you can’t find anything on their website, Home Depot usually has helpful videos. You can also look in the manual that came with your fridge or find one online. The manual will often have instructions on how to safely transport your fridge. 

Conclusion

If you follow the tips above, you should have no issue transporting your refrigerator safely.

You can certainly transport most refrigerators on their side as long as it’s opposite the side of the compressor oil lines. However, if you can avoid it, please do so. It will ensure all parts, inside and out, will remain safe and operational. 

It’s advisable to follow the instructions in your refrigerator’s user manuals. They generally have a section in them that states how to properly transport yoru specific refrigerator.

There are also many videos on the Home Depot website and your refrigerator model’s website that you can follow.