How to Move a Refrigerator the Right Way

Posted How-to / October 2, 2020
Blake Shaw

Bostonian and residential moving and packing expert. Blake Shaw enjoys bar-hopping, music, and writing insightful content.

Do you know how to move a refrigerator if you’re moving across the country? You can’t just unplug it and carry it like a TV. The process is slightly different when you’re moving cross country or moving interstate, and there are some tips you need to learn. We will show you how to move a refrigerator in our step-by-step guide.

No matter if you’re planning a long-distance moving adventure or you’re packing your stuff for local moving, you should know how to move a refrigerator properly. We all have one in our homes, and it’s one of the things you need for your first apartment. Unless you are relocating to a home that already has a refrigerator or you want to leave your old one behind and buy new appliances, reading this guide and learning these moving tips will come in handy. It will take away a lot of moving stress, you won’t get hurt, and you will save time.


Should You Leave This Task to Professionals or Do It Yourself?

Handling any type of heavy, bulky, and expensive items is always better when you have someone with experience to give you a hand. In case you haven’t relocated before, and you don’t know any tips for moving out of state and you don’t care about finding the cheapest way to move out of state, we recommend hiring a professional company that has adequate equipment and the expertise of carrying and relocating big and heavy appliances, furniture, or instruments. This isn’t one of the items movers won’t move, so you’re safe, but make sure you check how much to tip the movers.

However, if your timing or budget doesn’t allow you to use the help from a company because the moving expenses checklist is just too big for you, the hope isn’t lost. You can save money and do it by yourself safely and effectively with the right tips.

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Safety First – the Most Important Thing Is Not to Get Hurt

If you handle this appliance wrongly, you can break it, scratch the floor, or even get body injuries, and there’s not much use of any work if you’re going to end up hurting yourself. Doing this slowly and carefully will be one of the most important moving hacks. You should plan your every step upfront so that you know where the hallway is narrow, where the stairs are, and how many of them are there. Ask another person for help just in case, get safety gloves, and try to find some work shoes that are made out of firmer materials.

Except Protection for Yourself, Make Sure You Protect the Floor and the Walls When Moving a Fridge

It can happen that the floor gets damaged during the relocation of this appliance weighing anywhere between 150 and 350 pounds. When leaving your current home, you surely don’t want to do any damage to the property, so protect the floor and measure the hallways, corners, and doors where the unit will go through. See what’s the shortest path out. You can even remove the door that is blocking you from going through, but that’s not so common.

Keep in mind that fridges usually sink into the floor because of their weight, so trying to move them without any protection can cause damage. The best option for protecting the floors is to put furniture sliders under each foot or castor of the unit so that you can pull or push it however you want. Another similar alternative are a couple of quarter-inch plywood panels. Just slide them under each side of the unit and pull it. These methods are also very helpful if you were wondering how do you move a refrigerator off the wall because you will be able to slide it out of a tight space.

Things You Will Need When Moving a Fridge

Before you start this venture, be sure that you have all the necessary things. Here’s a short list of the packing materials for moving a fridge:

  • Appliance dolly
  • Moving blankets
  • Duct tape
  • Measuring tape
  • Safety gloves
  • Work shoes
  • Furniture sliders or plywood panels.

Where to Find a Dolly?

If you don’t already have it in your garage, you should definitely get one. It’s a crucial piece of equipment, especially if you are checking out how to move out for the first time by yourself. You can buy it at a local home depot store, rent it, or borrow it from someone. The type you will be using is an appliance dolly with rubber wheels. Keep in mind that those wheels can leave black marks on the floor, so you can put rubber mats wherever the refrigerator will be rolled.

Steps to Follow When Learning How to Move a Refrigerator

There are five crucial steps when it comes to relocating these kitchen appliances. Follow them chronologically:

  • Turn the unit off a couple of hours before the move so that the evaporator can fully defrost. Remove all the water that is produced by defrosting, gather it in containers, and dry the wet spots inside. In case you are planning on moving interstate, you won’t have to defrost it.
  • Unplug the power cord from the wall.
  • Remove everything that’s inside and clean the interior. If the transit lasts more than a day, you might want to get rid of the odors. You can place a small bag of activated charcoal inside or a box of baking soda.
  • You don’t want any removable parts to break or come loose, so secure them and protect them.
  • Leave the door open to prevent the mildew from growing.

How Much Time Does the Defrosting Take?

If you are preparing your refrigerator for long-distance moving and you have to defrost it because it will stay in the storage, keep in mind that the defrosting mostly depends on the size and the model of the fridge. It can be done in a couple of hours if we’re talking about a newer model, but we recommend defrosting it at least 24 hours before. That is how you’ll prevent the leaking in the truck.

Remove the Food and Shelving

The next thing on your moving to do list is that you should empty out the appliance to avoid any spillage and spoilage. Here comes the difference between interstate moving and moving state to state – the food inside the fridge won’t stay fresh if you plan on traveling for weeks to another coast, even if you choose the best time of the year to move. On the other hand, if you are learning how to change your address because you are going to the suburbs or another neighborhood, you won’t have that problem.

Long-distance moving of your fridge means that you’ll have to take out all the food inside, to plan the meals for the last two weeks before the move, and to throw away as little as possible. Here’s what you can do also: donate the food to food banks or throw a dinner for a lot of people, for example, as a part of your moving away party.

Taking out the food and glass shelves, storage pans, and ice trays will make your refrigerator lighter and easier to handle. Once you empty your appliance, take out the shelves as well. Wash and dry them, and cover with blankets, so they don’t break during the transport. Pack each shelf separately and tape the blanket around them.

There’s Some More Protecting Left

It’s finally the moment to physically move the unit, right? Well, not yet. You protected the floor with furniture sliders or plywood panels, placed the rubber mats, and you are wondering, How do you transport a fridge freezer? Firstly, you will need to do some more protecting. The surface of the refrigerator is sensitive, and metal on the dolly can scratch it. That’s why you will need to pad the bottom of the dolly and the part of it where the refrigerator will be. Then, tape the electrical cord to the fridge, and tie a rope around the doors so that they stay closed. The next step is to cover the unit itself. Just like when you’re moving furniture, if you care about it and want it to arrive at your new destination without any damages, get the blankets and wrap them around. You can tape the blankets so that they don’t move, or shrinkwrap it. This will also be helpful if you accidentally bump into anything.

It’s Moving Time – Get the Dolly and Follow Our Tips

Once you wrapped and secured everything, call that person you can count on to help you with this and get the relocation started. Slide the padded dolly underneath the unit and ask your helper to slightly lean the unit forward so that you can find its center of balance, which is not always the center of the refrigerator. You will know you found it when you see that the unit doesn’t look like it’s going to fall on one of the sides. Tip the refrigerator towards you and start pushing the dolly, while the other person holds it on the front.

Leverage Technique Is the Best Answer to How to Move a Refrigerator

Whenever you are carrying anything heavy, always use the leverage method so you don’t hurt your back. It’s not the strength or the force that should lift the heavy item, but physics. When the unit is on the dolly, and it’s well balanced, you can move it however you want. Try to push it, not pull – that way, you’ll have more control over the item and the direction of moving.

Can You Lay a Fridge Down to Move It?

Technically, the answer is that you can, but it isn’t recommended. It should stay upright during the entire move because of its weight. Once the working parts on the back of it are pressed by the weight, they could end up damaged, even if they’re not exposed. If you do have to lay it down anyway, place it on its front side.

You Have Stairs? Don’t Sweat

If you live in a high-rise and the unit can’t fit in the elevator, don’t worry. A dolly and a friend can help you overcome any type of stairs. The crucial thing about this is to go slow and to have one more helper just in case, depending on how wide the staircase is. If we’re talking about a narrow and steep staircase, the third person will only make the job more difficult.

One person should go in front to guide and carry some of the weight while the other should hold the dolly from the back. The refrigerator should be tilted at 45 degrees on the back. Go one step at the time, and don’t try to lift the dolly.

How to Load and Unload the Refrigerator on a Truck?

If you rented a truck or you have one, you should also be sure that it has a loading ramp. Then you can just push the dolly with the unit up the ramp. Don’t try any lifting without the equipment, so you don’t drop and break it after coming this far. Once it’s inside, keep it on the dolly for the entire transport if you can. Check all the ropes, tapes, and straps you tied around it, and find it a safe spot where it can’t fall down and break. Unloading can be done the same way as it was loaded.

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Once You Arrive, Set It Back Safely

The same old dolly will be the lifesaver again once you reach your destination, and the same method should be used – measure all the hallways, protect the floors and walls, count the stairs, and use the leverage technique. The only thing left after moving interstate or cross country moving is to find the perfect place in the kitchen for it and to check the owner’s manual. There you will find the guidelines about how long you have to wait to reconnect the refrigerator and to see when you can safely store the food again.

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