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What Do You Do if a Fridge Was Stored on Its Side?

Michaele Curtis

Although hundreds of refrigerator models are made by various manufacturers, one thing they all have in common is a warning in the user manuals that says not to put them on their side. Placing your refrigerator on its side can cause it to malfunction. To avoid that, either store your unit as recommended or prepare your unit before using it after storing it on its side.

Reason to Avoid It

When a refrigerator has been stored on its side, the oil from the compressor can leak out into the cooling lines. When you place the unit upright again to start using it, the oil doesn’t necessarily drain all the way out. This can prevent the refrigerator from cooling, which is its main function.

Safe Way to Move a Refrigerator

The safest way to move and store a refrigerator is first to turn it off for 24 to 48 hours before moving it. Remove all of the food and take out any drawers, shelves or detachable accessories. Store it in an upright position and tape the doors shut securely, or consider removing the doors of the unit temporarily to avoid anyone or anything becoming trapped in it.

Why You Can’t Always Avoid It

In the best case scenarios, your refrigerator would never be stored horizontally, but some factors may force you to do so. Space constraints are the main reason, because the units are taller than they are wide. Also, if your moving truck doesn’t have a way to anchor the unit to the wall, leaving it upright may risk it falling over during transport. In those cases, you have no choice but to put the unit on its side.

If You Can’t Avoid It

If you can’t avoid laying your refrigerator on its side, take some precautions to lessen the chance of malfunction. Store it on the side opposite from the one where the coils come out of the compressor. Instead of lying the unit flat, try to prop the head of it up so that oil doesn’t have a chance to run out of the compressor. Also, when you reinstall the refrigerator, allow it to stand upright for as long as it was on its side before turning it on. If that’s not possible, such as in the case of long-term storage, let your unit stay upright without using it for as long as you can. This gives the oil a chance to drain from the line.