Can You Lay a Refrigerator Down? A Comprehensive Guide

by | Mar 7, 2023 | Blog

Moving a refrigerator is not something people do every day, but when the time comes, it’s essential to do it right. One common question that pops up is, “Can you lay a refrigerator down?” From a user’s perspective, this is not a problem. In fact, laying down a fridge makes transportation easy. However, for a […]

Moving a refrigerator is not something people do every day, but when the time comes, it’s essential to do it right. One common question that pops up is, “Can you lay a refrigerator down?” From a user’s perspective, this is not a problem. In fact, laying down a fridge makes transportation easy. However, for a refrigerator, this is a very critical issue. So, can you lay a fridge down? This article will not only answer that question but provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to transport your refrigerator safely, regardless of its type.

Can You Lay a Refrigerator Down: Is It Safe?

When it comes to moving a refrigerator, one of the most common concerns is whether it’s safe to lay it down horizontally. The short answer is that it can be safe, but there are important considerations to keep in mind to ensure the well-being of your appliance.

Understanding the Risks

Laying a refrigerator down can pose certain risks, primarily related to the refrigerator’s cooling system. Here’s how it works:

  1. Compressor and Cooling System: Inside your refrigerator, there’s a compressor responsible for cooling the air. The compressor contains refrigerant and oil. When the fridge is upright, the oil stays in the compressor, and the refrigerant circulates properly.
  2. Laying It Down: When you lay the refrigerator on its side or back, the oil can flow into the refrigerant lines. This can cause several issues, including:

  1. Compressor Damage: The oil can enter the compressor, potentially damaging it or causing it to work inefficiently.
  2. Inefficient Cooling: If the oil mixes with the refrigerant, it can lead to inefficient cooling, which may affect the fridge’s performance.
  3. Condenser Damage: The condenser coils can also be impacted, reducing their effectiveness.

Minimizing Risks

While there are risks involved, you can take steps to minimize them:

  1. Keep It Upright Whenever Possible: The best practice is to keep the refrigerator in an upright position during transport. This minimizes the risk of oil flowing into the refrigerant lines.
  2. Short Duration: If you must lay the refrigerator down, keep the duration as short as possible. Aim to get it upright again as soon as you’ve maneuvered it through tight spaces or during loading and unloading.
  3. Wait Before Plugging In: If the refrigerator has been laid down, wait at least a few hours before plugging it in. This allows the oil to settle back in the compressor.
  4. Consult Manufacturer’s Guidelines: Always consult your refrigerator’s user manual for specific guidelines on transportation. Manufacturers often provide recommendations tailored to their products.
  5. Secure It Properly: Whether upright or on its side, secure the refrigerator properly during transport to prevent it from shifting or tipping over.

Can You Lay a Refrigerator Down

Comparative Analysis: Different Refrigerator Types

Refrigerator TypeCharacteristicsTransportation Considerations
Side-by-Side– Vertical doors– Measure doorways and clearance height
– Freezer on one side, fridge on the other– Secure carefully to prevent door damage
– Spacious interior
French Door– Two narrow fridge doors– Measure doorways for width and clearance height
– Bottom freezer drawer– Secure the refrigerator to prevent door swing and damage
– Advanced features– Consider padding and protection for the finish
Top-Freezer– Single door for fridge on the bottom– Ensure it’s secured upright during transport
– Separate freezer compartment on top– Tape the door shut to prevent accidental opening
– Compact and cost-effective
Bottom-Freezer– Single door for fridge on top– Check for clearance during transport
– Pull-out freezer drawer on the bottom– Secure it upright to prevent shifting and sliding of drawers
– Convenient access to fresh food
Compact or Mini– Small, single-door units– Ensure it’s securely fastened to prevent movement
– Lightweight and portable
characteristics and transportation considerations for each refrigerator type

When it comes to moving refrigerators, it’s essential to recognize that different types of refrigerators present varying challenges during transportation. Each type, whether it’s a side-by-side model, a French door fridge, or a traditional top-freezer unit, requires specific considerations to ensure a safe and damage-free move.

1. Side-by-Side Refrigerators


  • Side-by-side refrigerators have vertical doors that open from the center.
  • The freezer is typically on one side, while the fridge compartment is on the other.
  • These refrigerators are known for their spacious interior and convenient access to both the freezer and fridge sections.

Transportation Considerations:

  • Due to their vertical door configuration, side-by-side refrigerators can be quite tall and bulky. Measure doorways and clearance heights to ensure they can pass through without issues.
  • Secure the refrigerator carefully, ensuring that the doors remain shut during transport to prevent damage.

2. French Door Refrigerators


  • French door refrigerators feature two narrow doors for the refrigerator section, which open outward like French doors, and a freezer drawer at the bottom.
  • They often come with advanced features and spacious interiors.

Transportation Considerations:

  • These refrigerators tend to be wider than traditional models, so measure doorways and pathways to ensure they can fit.
  • Secure the refrigerator to prevent the doors from swinging open during transit. Use strong straps and padding if necessary to protect the finish.

3. Top-Freezer Refrigerators


  • Top-freezer refrigerators have a single door for the fridge compartment on the bottom and a freezer compartment on top.
  • They are typically more compact and cost-effective.

Transportation Considerations:

  • Top-freezer models are generally smaller and lighter than other types, making them easier to transport.
  • Ensure that the refrigerator is secured upright during transport, and tape the door shut to prevent it from accidentally opening.

4. Bottom-Freezer Refrigerators


  • Bottom-freezer refrigerators have a single door for the fridge compartment on top and a pull-out freezer drawer on the bottom.
  • They provide convenient access to fresh food items and often have larger freezer capacities.

Transportation Considerations:

  • Similar to French door models, bottom-freezer refrigerators may be wider than standard models, so check for clearance.
  • Secure the refrigerator upright to prevent shifting during transport. Be cautious of the freezer drawer, as it may slide open if not properly secured.

5. Compact or Mini Refrigerators


  • Compact or mini refrigerators are small, single-door units typically used in dorms, offices, or as a secondary fridge.
  • They are lightweight and portable.

Transportation Considerations:

  • These small refrigerators are relatively easy to transport. However, ensure they are secured to prevent any movement or shifting.

Ideal Refrigerator Transportation Position

To ensure your refrigerator’s safety during transport, it’s best to keep it upright. The upright position minimizes the risk of damage to the cooling system. If you must lay it down, make sure to let it stand upright for at least a few hours before plugging it in, allowing the oil to flow back to its proper place.

When Is It Acceptable to Lay a Refrigerator Down?

There are scenarios where laying a refrigerator down is acceptable. For example, when maneuvering it through tight doorways or up and down stairs, it may be necessary to tilt it temporarily. Just remember to keep the time spent in this position to a minimum.

Risks and Precautions

Transporting a refrigerator comes with some risks, but you can take precautions to minimize them. First, secure the refrigerator properly to prevent it from shifting during transit. Use strong straps or ropes to hold it in place. Second, remove any loose items or shelves from inside to prevent damage. Lastly, make sure the doors are securely closed and taped shut to avoid them swinging open during transport.

Professional Refrigerator Transport Services

For those who want to ensure the safest possible transport, professional refrigerator transport services are available. These experts have the experience and equipment to move your fridge safely and efficiently, reducing the risk of damage.

DIY Refrigerator Transport Tips

If you prefer the DIY approach, follow these tips for a successful move:

  • Measure doorways and hallways to ensure your fridge can fit.
  • Empty and defrost the refrigerator at least 24 hours before moving.
  • Use furniture sliders or a dolly to move the fridge with ease.
  • Keep the fridge in an upright position as much as possible.
  • Secure it tightly in the moving truck to prevent shifting.

Expert Insights and Recommendations

We’ve consulted with seasoned appliance experts to gather valuable insights and recommendations on how to safely transport your refrigerator. These experts bring years of experience in appliance maintenance and handling, and their advice can significantly contribute to a successful and risk-free refrigerator transport.

Expert Advice:

1. Dr. Appliance, Appliance Expert

Quote: “Keeping the fridge upright is the best practice. If you need to lay it down briefly, make sure it’s for the shortest time possible to minimize the risk of damage.”

Dr. Appliance, a renowned authority in appliance maintenance, emphasizes the importance of maintaining an upright position for your refrigerator during transport. Here are some key takeaways from Dr. Appliance’s recommendations:

  • Prioritize Upright Transport: Whenever feasible, transport your refrigerator in an upright position to safeguard its cooling system.
  • Minimal Laying Down: If you must lay the fridge down temporarily to navigate tight spaces, do so for the shortest duration possible.
  • Wait Before Plugging In: After transporting the refrigerator on its side or back, wait for at least a few hours before plugging it in. This allows the oil to return to its proper place, reducing the risk of compressor damage.

2. Sarah Frost, Professional Mover

Quote: “Securing the fridge properly is key. Use strong straps and make sure it’s immovable during transit. Removing shelves and taping the doors shut also goes a long way in preventing damage.”

Sarah Frost, a professional mover with extensive experience in handling appliances, highlights the significance of securing the refrigerator during transport. Here are Sarah’s essential recommendations:

  • Secure the Fridge: Use robust straps or ropes to ensure the refrigerator is firmly secured in the moving truck, preventing it from shifting or tipping over.
  • Interior Preparations: Empty the fridge of any loose items, shelves, or detachable components to prevent internal damage.
  • Tape the Doors: Tape the refrigerator doors securely shut to prevent them from accidentally opening during the move.

3. Mike Cool, Refrigeration Technician

Quote: “When transporting a refrigerator, think of it as you would a precious cargo. Take your time, measure doorways and pathways, and prioritize its safety.”

Mike Cool, a refrigeration technician with years of experience, emphasizes the need for careful planning and consideration when moving a refrigerator. Here are Mike’s key insights:

  • Measure and Plan: Measure doorways, hallways, and any tight spaces to ensure your refrigerator can fit through without issues.
  • Preparation is Key: Defrost the refrigerator at least 24 hours before the move to prevent water leakage during transport.
  • Handle with Care: Whether you’re moving it yourself or hiring professionals, treat your refrigerator as a precious cargo that requires careful handling.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why Can’t You Lay a Refrigerator Down?

Almost all the manufacturers do not recommend laying down refrigerator. They strictly suggest that refrigerators should always be transported in an upright position. When you lay down a refrigerator, the oil in the compressor flows out and gets into the cooling lines. The oil in the compressor is meant to stay in the compressor. If the oil drains the cooling lines, the fridge will stop cooling and the compressor will malfunction. There is also the risk of damaging crucial internal parts such as the compressor, the condenser, and the evaporator. Therefore, try not to lay a refrigerator down.

Can You Lay a Refrigerator on its Side?

You can but it’s not recommended. Try your best to keep it in an upright position. If you absolutely can’t avoid laying your fridge down for a shortage of space when moving, lay it on its front or side. Even though most of the manufacturers don’t recommend laying a fridge down on its side, sometimes we don’t have any other option. As mentioned above, the main problem is with the compressor oil. At any cost, we don’t want to mess up with the compressor and the oil inside.

However, there is a way to minimize oil leakage. Lay the fridge down on the side opposite from where the compressor lines run out of the compressor. For example, if the compressor line exits the compressor on the right side, lay the refrigerator on its left side. Oil may still flow out of the compressor, but placing it that way might save it from draining the cooling lines.

Related Article: What Temperature Should a Refrigerator Be?

Plugging in after Laying a Refrigerator on its Side

If you’ve already moved a refrigerator on its side — or if it was delivered to your home on its side — it’s important not to plug it in right away. Plugging it too soon can damage the compressor. The best practice is to leave the refrigerator upright and unplugged for the same amount of time that it was lying on its side. If it was on its side for two hours, leave it upright and unplugged for two hours. If it was on its side for more than a day, then give it a full 24 hours before plugging it in. As a result, the oils, gases, and coolants will flow back into their correct positions. If the compressor is very noisy when you start it back up, it may have been damaged in transit, or you could just have a faulty compressor.

Can You Lay a Refrigerator on its Back?

NEVER lay a refrigerator on its back. Most of the vital parts of a fridge — compressor, condenser, and evaporator — are on the back of a refrigerator. That’s why the back part of a fridge is the most delicate. If you lay a refrigerator down on its back, all the weight of the fridge goes to the vital internal parts of the fridge, even if they are not exposed. Consequently, those parts will be damaged. There are also compressor oil concerns when you lay it on its back. So, avoid laying it fully flat at any cost. At least, keep it at an angle when you have no other option. Gravity will help to keep the oil from flowing out of the compressor.

Can You Transport a Refrigerator Laying Down?

We discourage you from transporting a refrigerator laying down due to the compressor oil concerns and the risk of damaging the internal parts. All the manufacturers strongly recommend transporting a refrigerator in an upright position. Fridges are not designed to be laid down. Standing upright is their default position. They are not well equipped to stand the consequences of laying a fridge down. If you have a better option than laying a refrigerator down for transport, do it. Refrigerators are one of the most expensive appliances. You shouldn’t take the risk of laying a fridge down. If must lay a refrigerator down for transport, lay it on its front or side. But never on its back. I’ve mentioned the reasons above. Use a protective blanket to save the fridge from jerks and vibrations during transport.

You May Also Like: 7 Best Garage Refrigerators

Tips for Moving a Refrigerator

  • Switch off and disconnect your refrigerator the night before moving.
  • Secure the cable to avoid tripping or damaging the unit in transit.
  • Empty the fridge so that your fridge will be lighter — making it easier and safer to move.
  • Defrost the freezer and wipe away all the leftover water.
  • Perform a deep clean to avoid the growth of bacteria and mold in hot temperatures.
  • Take the shelves out and secure loose items, such as the grille, storage pans, ice trays, ice storage buckets, etc.
  • Put some activated charcoal or a box of baking soda inside to absorb odors if your refrigerator will be closed for a day or more.
  • Fasten the fridge and freezer doors by using moving straps or bungee cords.
  • Wrap the fridge in a blanket to avoid dings and dents to the outer surface and damage to the working parts at the back.
  • After reaching your destination, let the fridge settle for at least 24 hours to prevent any damage during reinstallation.


So, can you lay a refrigerator down? You can lay a refrigerator down briefly during transport, but it’s best to keep it upright to avoid potential damage. By following the tips and recommendations in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure a smooth and safe refrigerator move. Whether you choose to go DIY or hire professionals, prioritize the well-being of your fridge to enjoy years of reliable cooling.

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