Moving a refrigerator is far from easy, and neither is it a one-day job. Not only would you need manpower to carry out this gargantuan task, but you would also require extensive planning. The preparation stage itself would take a couple of days at least. But the good news is that if you plan well and get some help either from professional movers or from your friends, you’ll have moved your refrigerator efficiently and in good time.
Why you should consider hiring help when moving a refrigerator:
Weight: If you think you can carry and move a refrigerator all by yourself, you’ve got another thing coming. The average refrigerator weighs anywhere between 200 and 400lbs. Not only do you need help carrying that kind of weight, but also consider how delicate the machine itself is and that the parts inside must not lose alignment with each other. Professional helpers are equipped with the necessary tools to carry the weight; they also have enough experience dealing with big appliances. You would need at least 2 to 3 more pairs of the hands-on deck.
Size: The average height of a refrigerator ranges between 66 and 70 inches. So along with a heaviness, you also have to deal with an appliance that’s taller than yourself. You will undoubtedly need assistance tilting the refrigerator onto an appliance dolly and loading it onto the moving truck.
Prep Time: Moving your refrigerator requires many little tasks behind the scenes that you will have to prepare. The entire planning process should take a week, from purchasing moving tools and accessories to booking the transportation to preparing the refrigerator itself for the move. It will be hard to take time off to prepare if you are working. Professional movers will not only help take the pressure off of your shoulders but, likely; they will also have all the tools you were going to buy.
Prepping the refrigerator for the move
The best line of attack for this undertaking would be to organize yourself first. Make a list of all the things you’ll need to procure for the move. This ranges from things to help you prep the refrigerator to moving tools to secure the wires. If you consult with the local hardware store, you might be able to rent the tools per hour, which would save you some money in the long run. Professional movers could also advise you on the accessories you may need and recommend where to get them.
Once you’re all stocked up on moving tools and accessories, it’s time to prepare the refrigerator for a move. This task doesn’t just involve switching it off and disconnecting from the power source. A lot more needs to happen for your refrigerator to be ready for moving. You will need to take a couple of days to drain, clean, and dry the machine.
Moving supplies: Place your moving supplies in order of requirement so that you can go through the different stages of prep systematically, without looking around panicked for a tool you cannot find at the final hour. If you’re doing this with friends, ask each friend to be in charge of different stages of prep and take ownership of the corresponding moving supplies. This way, they can dive in when their turn and complete the task.
Take measurements: If you want your refrigerator to get to the loading vehicle in one piece, you’re going to have to take stock of the dimensions of everything it will have to pass through. So take that measuring tape and measure not only the dimensions of the refrigerator but also the doorways, corridors (if any), appliance dolly, and the storage space in the truck. Take measurements of the same at the destination too. If something doesn’t fit, you’ll have ample time to figure out a way to work around it.
Empty & Defrost: The next step is to ensure there is nothing in your refrigerator. Empty all the contents of the fridge. You can store the perishable food in a separate cooler in the interim period or give away food to your neighbors. Then, it’s time to defrost the freezer. This will take a little while. Once the ice has fully melted, you can switch the refrigerator off.
Disconnect fridge with user manual: Always refer to the user manual when disconnecting appliances from their power source. After a thorough read, you can go ahead and disconnect the plug. Leave the refrigerator door open while the internal cooling system has been switched off. This will ensure your fridge dries out completely.
Clean interiors: Bring your cleaning gloves, sponges, scrubbers, brushes, and liquids. First, ensure that the interiors fully drain any residual water from the defrosting. Next, start cleaning the walls, trays, drawers, top, and base with some cleaning liquid on your brush! Finally, once you’ve got rid of all the soap, wipe down all the parts of the refrigerator with a dry cloth. Always work your way from top to bottom.
Remove obstacles from the way: In the meantime, you need to clear the path for your refrigerator, from its present position to the truck you’re going to load it on. Move any furniture, carpets, rugs and mats, stands, wires, footwear, or other household items that usually pepper corridors or doorways. Any bumps, ridges, or uneven surfaces could rock the dolly and damage the machinery inside the refrigerator.
Protect the floors: Now that the path is cleared, you need to think about protecting your flooring. You can use floor protectors like furniture sliders, which will ensure the smooth transition of your refrigerator while keeping your floors untouched and pristine! Under the weight of the refrigerator, your appliance dolly may leave marks or damage your flooring.
This is where you will need some help. If you have a professional moving company on hire, they will provide a team of helpers to facilitate the process. If you’re planning to make this a DIY project, then ask your able-bodied friends or relatives to take a day out to help you. Discuss the plan of action step-by-step with your team to avoid confusion during the final day. Keep some extra drinks and snacks out for your helpers, whoever they are.
Slide fridge and strap onto dolly: With the help of your moving team, tilt your fridge sideways versus front to back, and slide the appliance dolly underneath. Once it is in position, you can lift and tilt the refrigerator back to its original upright position onto the dolly. Use cargo straps to fasten the refrigerator in place to not shift or shake while being transported to the truck.
Move with caution: Do not hasten the process. Make sure everyone is moving at the same speed from all directions. Ensure that the loading area is ready to receive the refrigerator. Be extra careful if you need to move the refrigerator down a stairway or ramp. You do not want the refrigerator to slide off the dolly while it’s at a slant.
Guide onto truck: Once you’ve reached the back of the truck, open the loading ramp and ask your team to divide itself between the pushers on the ground and the pullers on the truck. If you have a moving truck, it is recommended that you place the refrigerator by the walls and secure it with ratchet straps.
Secure in place: Make sure that the refrigerator cannot move once you’re on the road. Apart from strapping it in place, you could also surround it with furniture pieces so that it’s jammed, with no place to move. Secure the refrigerator further by wrapping it with blankets during prep time so that in the event it does move; it has a cushioned layer for protection.
Transport safely: While transporting a refrigerator, keep in mind that you will need ample time in the day. Leave early in the morning. Drive slowly and avoid bumps and uneven roads. Also, check routes that do not get a lot of traffic. Do a weather forecast check before the day of the move if it’s winter or rainy.
Now that you’ve moved your refrigerator, unloaded it from the truck, and into its new place of residence, there is still some work left to do. It would take a little time before it’s ready for use, so keep some backups for food and drinks that do not require refrigeration.
Set up: When setting up, remember that you need to let your refrigerator sit in an upright position for some time before you can plug it in and switch it on. This gives the machine time to realign itself for the oil to flow back to the compressor. Give it 24 hours to settle, and then you can plug it in and switch it on. Before you do, though, make sure all the trays and drawers are back in their place.
Power on and let it cool: Once you’ve connected the refrigerator to the power source, give it some time to cool down and for the freezer to sufficiently freeze. Once it’s back to its former cold temperatures, you can start stocking up on your eggs, milk, salads, meats, and sauces. If you feel like the fridge still isn’t working properly, consider getting a professional to look at it.
Hire professionals: Hiring a professional packing and moving service is ideal for such undertakings because the specialists who understand how these machines work and need to be handled will take extra care in packing and moving your refrigerator, saving you time, worries, and physical exertion. It would be money well spent in the long run.
It doesn’t seem as intimidating as it was, does it? Refrigerators, like any other large house appliance, need care and maintenance. They also require sufficient prep time if they undergo major changes like relocation. With so many professional moving services available all over the country and this helpful guide, you can rest assured the process will run smoothly.
Q. Can you move a fridge straight after turning it off?
It’s recommended that you turn the refrigerator at least 24 hours before you plan to move it. This gives it time to defrost and also air dry. Moving it right away would cause leakage and likely damage the machine. Also, you’d need time to empty and clean your fridge once it’s disconnected from the power source. A messy and wet fridge could create mold and create a stench.
Q. Can you move a refrigerator on its back?
Never lay the refrigerator on its back. This could damage the internal machinery under the weight of the front. The best way to lay a refrigerator down is by placing it either on its front or side. When you are transferring it onto an appliance dolly, decide beforehand which way you want to lay it down to carry the machine accordingly.
Q. How much does it cost to relocate a refrigerator?
The cost of moving a refrigerator usually depends on the distance you are moving it, also calculating the time. But if you take an estimate of about 2 hours with a standard weight refrigerator, you can expect to spend at least $200 excluding taxes and other charges.
Q. How do you fix a refrigerator that was lying down?
If your refrigerator has been lying down either on its front or side for a while, let it stand upright for at least 24 hours before plugging it in. This will give it enough time for the oil to move down into the compressor, where it should be, for the fridge to work.
Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.