How to move a fridge (or freezer)
Refrigerators are large, heavy and expensive — which can be cause for concern when moving. To successfully transport one on your own, check out the steps below.
Safely moving a refrigerator
It’s important to be careful when moving a refrigerator. Start by looking through the appliance manual — there could be important steps that are unique for your model. (Can’t locate the manual? Check with the manufacturer or look at this resource of manuals online.)
Start the process a few days before the move to allow for plenty of time. And grab an appliance dolly and a friend for help.
1. Empty it
Remove all food (use, discard or give away perishable foods). Examine the loose parts like shelves and drawers. If they wiggle around, then remove them and pack them separately (wrap well in packing paper, and pack them into boxes). Or if they won’t wiggle, secure them with tape to keep them in place so they don’t come lose and cause damage.
2. Unplug and defrost
Read the manual for the exact steps for your model (or call a professional if there are too many steps). Turn the fridge off, disconnect the power cord, ice maker water line and any other lines.
How to defrost a fridge for moving: Allow the fridge or freezer to defrost, either by giving it plenty of time or by using heat (hot water or a hairdryer). Be sure to have towels on hand to soak up the water. Once it’s thoroughly dry, coil the cords and lines, and tape them to the unit to keep them secure.
Clean all components, inside and out. Again, refer to the manual for tips and instructions. If possible, remove the bottom guards, and vacuum the coils, and then empty the evaporator pan and water reservoir.
To protect the finish, wrap it in either plastic wrap or in moving blankets. Then use bungee cords or straps wrapped around the fridge (like a belt) to keep the doors shut.
Connect the fridge or freezer to the dolly. To do this, slide the unit out, and slide the dolly underneath from the side. Use straps to secure the fridge to the dolly. You do not want this heavy appliance to shift while moving it.
If you can take the dolly with you to the destination, consider using one dedicated just to the refrigerator, or move all other furniture and appliances first and the refrigerator last. Just leave it attached, and then move the refrigerator off first at the destination.
Use care when tipping the dolly back (this is where help from a friend is important), then carefully wheel the refrigerator to the moving equipment. Walk backward up the ramp with the dolly (you may need help pushing and guiding it up the ramp). If loading the fridge into a pickup truck, place a blanket or pad along the tailgate to prevent scratches. Place one person in the bed of the truck, pulling the dolly up, and a second person on the ground, lifting.
Load it upright in the equipment, which helps to minimize damage to the sealed cooling system. Secure the wheels on the dolly (or any rollers on the fridge or freezer) and secure the unit with straps.
If you have to transport the fridge on its side or back, experts recommend allowing it to stand upright for the same amount of time it was on its side or back before plugging it in (allowing the fluids to settle).
Move the fridge back in very carefully. Let it sit completely upright for at least one hour before plugging it in (the manufacturer’s guide should give specific times for your model). Plugging it in too soon may result in damage if the oil isn’t in the compressor. Allow the fridge to cool completely before placing food inside (using within 24 hours).
Need to store a fridge or freezer?
It’s super important to ensure the fridge or freezer is clean and dry before storage, or mold or strong smells may develop. While it sits, prop the doors open slightly to allow air to flow. To do this, wedge an object between the door and fridge close to the floor, so it can’t fall out of place.
Have questions about moving a refrigerator?
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Need more packing tips for other items? Check out this complete guide to packing a house.
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