Can Refrigerators Be Laid Down On Side, Back, Or Front?

Image of a refrigerator about to be laid down

Refrigerator manuals instruct users to move or transport refrigerators upright. However, the lack of space or other practical aspects may make this impossible. In such situations, can refrigerators be laid down?

Yes, you can lay down most refrigerators on their side for short distances. Ensure to keep them upright for several hours before switching them on. However, you should never lay French door, bottom freezer, and side-by-side refrigerators on their sides as their weight can damage the internal parts.

Let’s talk about this in more detail now.

What’s Wrong With Transporting A Refrigerator On Its Side?

The best way to transport a refrigerator is in the upright position.

To understand why it’s not a good idea to move a refrigerator on its side or back, we must look at the different parts of these appliances.

The main part of the refrigerator is the compressor.

The compressor continuously pumps a refrigerant into the cooling coils and creates a low-temperature environment inside the compartment.

These condenser coils run through the back of the refrigerator.

Now, the compressor uses a thick, viscous lubricant to reduce friction on the metal parts.

This lubricant also prolongs the life of the system.

When you lay down a refrigerator on its side, this oil can usually cause problems.

When you lay a refrigerator on its side, the lubricant will flow into the coolant lines and clog them.

This affects the smooth flow of the refrigerant through the coils.

Insufficient lubricating oil will also affect the operation of the compressor.

If you switch on the refrigerator immediately after moving it on its side, the oil solidifies in place, thus damaging the appliance.

So, you should never switch a refrigerator on immediately after transporting it on its side.

Fortunately, you can minimize or reverse the oil leakage from the compressor by making sure that the compressor faces upward before turning it on.

Return it to the vertical position and wait several hours before switching it on.

We recommend waiting for as many hours as the refrigerator was on its side to turn it on.

It’s always safe to wait for an entire day to eliminate any risk of damage due to transportation.

During this time, the oil that leaked out will flow back into the compressor where it belongs.

This will prevent clogging.

How To Choose Which Side To Lay The Refrigerator On?

Most refrigerators have all the pipes coming out of one side of the compressor.

If you can find this side, you can safely lay the refrigerator on the opposite side where there are no pipes.

This will reduce the chances of the oil leaking into the coolant pipes.

However, some refrigerators have pipes coming out of both sides of the compressor.

In this case, you should find out the discharge pipe.

For this, look at the base of your refrigerator. There will be two pipes attached to the compressor.

One of these is the suction line, and the other is the discharge line.

The discharge line is the pipe with a smaller diameter.

Problems occur when compressor oil leaks into the discharge line.

So, you should prevent this from happening during transportation.

Locate the discharge pipe. Then, place the refrigerator on the opposite side to transport it safely.

Even if you transport it on the opposite side, you should leave the refrigerator upright for a few hours before switching it on to avoid any likely problems.

Recommended Further Reading:

Why Should You Never Transport A Refrigerator On Its Back?

The shelves of the refrigerator are made of glass, which is heavy.

Then there are additional components like the door and drawers.

So, even if you empty the refrigerator, it’s heavy.

We already saw that the compressor and associated circuits are in the back of most refrigerators.

When you lay a refrigerator on its back, all the weight will be concentrated on the back.

This can strain the compressor and damage it.

Is It Fine To Lay Down A Refrigerator On Its Front?

Transporting a refrigerator by laying it facing forward is not the optimal way to transport it.

Nonetheless, it’s better to lay a refrigerator down on its front than on its back.

However, it may be unsuitable for some models, and you should check the manual to confirm.

Strap the door tightly in place if you decide to take this route.

Also, leave the refrigerator upright and unplugged for several hours before switching it on again.

When Shouldn’t You Transport A Refrigerator On Its Side?

Transporting a refrigerator on its side doesn’t usually lead to issues if you wait long enough to turn it on after placing it upright again.

However, you should completely avoid it in certain situations.

Some manufacturers, like Liebherr, strictly advise against moving their refrigerators lying down.

It’s because Liebherr refrigerators are designed in such a way that their compressor brackets can absorb vibrations only when they are placed upright.

Placing them on the side will prevent the brackets from absorbing any vibrations.

This will strain the structure and cause permanent and irreversible damage.

Some other brands, like GE, specify that certain models should never be laid down.

This usually applies to models with French doors, side-by-side doors, and those with bottom freezers.

If your refrigerator comes under any of these categories, it’s better to err on the side of caution and keep it upright at all times.

Related Further Reading:

What To Do If Your Refrigerator Was Lying On Its Side?

Refrigerator being set up after transportation

If your refrigerator was lying on its side, you should always assume that the compressor oil may have leaked.

To prevent long-term damage, never plug in the device immediately.

Take the refrigerator out of its box and make it upright. Leave it in this position for several hours.

You should wait for as much time as it was on its side to plug it in.

If you are unsure of how long the refrigerator was down, wait for an entire day to plug it in.

This will allow enough time for the lubricating oil to fall back into the compressor sump.

After the specified time, run the empty fridge on the maximum temperature setting for a few hours.

If you don’t notice any issues during this time, your refrigerator should be fine.

5 Guidelines To Move Or Transport A Refrigerator Safely

Refrigerators are sensitive appliances. They are prone to damage from mishandling.

So it’s important to pay close attention while moving these devices and plugging them on.

Here are the important steps to follow to prevent significant damage to your refrigerator while moving it.

1. Empty the contents and remove the shelves.

You must remove all the contents from the refrigerator before moving it.

Additionally, remove all the movable shelves to lighten the load and avoid accidents.

Glass shelves can shift during transport, and they may crack or break.

Removing the shelves and transporting them separately will prevent damage.

If your refrigerator shelves are fixed, you can secure them into place with tape.

2. Secure the door tightly.

Refrigerator doors have magnetic doors with a vacuum seal.

This tight seal prevents outside air from entering the refrigerator by sealing it shut.

While this seal keeps the door closed during everyday use, it may not stop the door from opening when you are transporting or moving the refrigerator.

To prevent any accidents or damage, secure the door in place using tape.

This will keep it from flapping open and make it easier to handle.

3. Keep the refrigerator upright while moving it.

The best way to transport any refrigerator is in the upright position.

In a rare situation that it’s not possible, you can lay it on its side.

However, check the user manual to confirm that it’s safe.

Depending on the make and model, it may not be safe to transport certain refrigerators on their side.

Interesting Further Reading:

4. Wait for several hours before plugging it and turning it on.

Regardless of whether it’s a short or long move, we don’t recommend plugging a refrigerator in immediately afterward.

Place it in the upright position and wait for a few hours to allow any oil discharge to return to the compressor sump.

It’s safest to wait for 24 hours to plug it in.

However, a few hours should also be sufficient if it was a short move.

5. Handle it with care.

A refrigerator is a delicate appliance that you should handle with care.

To prevent damage to any of its components, be very careful while moving it and transporting it.

We recommend removing all the shelves and removable parts of the refrigerator before transportation to prevent scratches and cracks to the glass.

It’s ideal to use proper packing material to secure the refrigerator.

You can also use a thick cloth to cushion any impact during short moves.

Also, take proper care while moving it to avoid damage to the working parts.


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