It’s super easy to get used to having your fridge as a permanent fixture in your space, so having to move it, whether you’re just trying to service it or moving into a new house entirely, can be a lot of work. It could be so much work that you’re even tempted to take the easy road by carrying it on its side. A fridge may be portable enough to get moved every which way, but is it safe to lay it on its side?
You should not lay a refrigerator on its side because it can damage its parts. When it is horizontal, the liquids in the compressor and coolant can easily leak out, form blockages in its various components, and damage them. To avoid this, you should keep the fridge upright as much as possible.
This article will explain in detail why you shouldn’t lay a fridge on its side and how to properly transport it. Keep reading to also find out how to fix a refrigerator if you’ve already made the mistake of laying it on its side.
Why You Should Not Lay a Fridge on Its Side
A refrigerator contains liquid chemicals. Similar to how gravity keeps water down in a cup only when it’s standing properly, those liquids can only stay in position when the fridge is kept upright. Laying the fridge on its side can make those liquids flow out and clog up the other pipes in the refrigerator.
One particularly vulnerable liquid is the oil used to lubricate the mechanical parts of the compressor producing cold air. When the fridge is laid on one of its sides, especially if it’s the same side the compressor lines are in, gravity can no longer hold the lubricating oil down, so it flows out.
The fridge coolant is usually in the same part as the mechanical compressor parts with the lubricating oil, so if the oil tips over to flow out far enough, it can get into the coolant lines and eventually into the condenser coils.
The resulting mess is a problem for both the coolant and the compressor. The coolant won’t work properly because there’s oil in it, and the compressor won’t work properly either because it won’t have enough oil in it.
Because of this, the fridge won’t cool efficiently, and the compressor will keep overheating and seizing. If you push the fridge to keep working in this condition, it could break down permanently.
The compressor oil isn’t the only problem that laying a fridge on its side could cause. The appliance is generally designed to remain upright, so it has many small components that can easily get rattled out of place.
When you tilt the fridge, especially if it gets shoved around quite roughly, those parts could fall out of place and affect its functioning. If the fridge gets moved around with the dislodged parts in it, they can also get stuck in the other components and end up damaging them.
How to Properly Transport a Fridge
Here are the guidelines on how to properly transport a fridge and avoid damage:
Disconnect It and Clean Out the Unit
It’s safer and easier to move a fridge that has defrosted. So after emptying the fridge, you should turn it off overnight or at least for a couple of hours before moving it.
After disconnecting the power cord, be careful not to let it dangle because it could hit a snag or get cut. Instead, fold it and wrap it securely with a twist tie or a foil strip. You could also tape the wrapped plug to the body of the fridge to secure it better.
Assess the Condition of Your Fridge
If your fridge is in good condition, there’s a pretty slim chance that laying it on its side for a short time will cause a severe problem. If you need to take a chance with tilting your fridge while moving it, you should consider a couple of factors: how long the journey will take and how old the fridge is.
Determine the Risk
Remember that an older fridge is more likely to suffer permanent damage, and the longer you leave it lying on its side, the worse the damage could be. Assessing the condition of your fridge can help you decide if transporting it is worth the risk or if you should consider an alternative.
Package It Properly
Whether tilted or upright, getting moved is always rough for the tiny parts of a fridge. To keep these parts from breaking loose, you should ensure that the fridge remains as well-packaged as possible.
The best way to package it is to move the fridge while it is contained in a box that can keep the tiny parts firmly secured. The box should also be lined with packing foam to cushion the fridge and reduce the effect of any rough jostling. If you can’t get a box, a padded moving blanket could do a fine job too.
Carry It Carefully
Moving a fridge from its position to the vehicle is just as delicate as the journey. You should handle it carefully to avoid hitting any objects that could break and even damage your fridge.
Getting a fridge out the door isn’t usually a serious problem because they’re generally quite small. If you have a small entrance, though, you should measure the height and width of the door to be sure that your fridge can safely ease out of the door.
To be safe, you or your movers could use a moving dolly or hand truck if you have one. Otherwise, you could stick with walking the fridge or using cardboard.
Secure It to the Vehicle
It is also essential that the fridge stays as still as possible during transportation. To keep your fridge attached to the inside of the truck, it should be firmly secured with ratchet straps or strong ropes.
You should make sure that the attachments are firm around the top and the front of the fridge and anchored properly to the truck. To keep the straps firm, you must also drive carefully and avoid abrupt stops or jerking motions.
How to Fix a Refrigerator That Has Been Laid on Its Side
Mistakes happen all the time, and laying a fridge on its side is a pretty common one. If you or someone else has already made the mistake of laying your fridge on its side, the great news is that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s damaged.
To fix a fridge that has been left lying on its side, get it upright as soon as possible and keep it in that position for 4 to 48 hours. A larger model would need more time, but a fridge can do just fine if it’s left standing for as long as it was left lying on its side. If you want to toe the safe line, you should leave it upright for at least 24 hours.
During this time, most of the compressor oil will go out of the coolant lines and condenser coils. Some of the oil will go back into the compressor, while the rest will get into a spot where it can get blown in when you get the fridge running again.
To enjoy your fridge for a good, long time, you should properly maintain and transport it using the tips outlined above.
Be sure to never lay a fridge on its side if you can help it. To move a fridge, be sure to package it properly and transport it upright whenever possible.