Can you lay fridge or freezer on its side or back when moving it?

Fridge or Freezer

This article describes how to safely transport a fridge or freezer to another house or location. It is especially important if you are unable to keep it upright, and have to lay it over at any point.

If you’ve just had a new fridge or freezer delivered, and want to know if you need to leave it to stand before plugging it in, see – leaving a fridge or freezer to stand after being delivered.

Can you damage one by laying it over?

Yes, you can fatally damage a fridge or freezer if you transport it incorrectly, especially if you lay one on its back – or on the wrong side. However, some manufacturers imply that it’s perfectly OK to move one however you like – as long as you leave it to stand for several hours before plugging it back in. Others just don’t mention the issue at all.

Here’s what some manufacturers say

Looking at my own Hotpoint and Blomberg freezer manuals, neither of them mention the necessity to transport one only in the upright position. The Hotpoint manual just says, “before plugging in, leave the freezer to stand for at least 15 minutes”. The Blomberg manual just says, “leave to stand for at least 4 hours before switching on to allow compressor oil to settle – if transported horizontally”.

A Smeg fridge freezer instruction manual I found also says, “let it settle for 6 hours”. This 6 hour recommendation is increased to 24 hours if it is known that the appliance has been laid down. These last two clearly appear to say that it’s OK to transport them horizontally. So it’s clear that advice varies considerably, but none mention how you can damage one by laying it down incorrectly.

Why would manufacturer’s give such bad advice?

They may only be concerned with the original transportation to the customer, where the appliance will have been kept upright. They may not be concerned, or have even thought about how many will be subsequently moved by customers if sold, or purchased second hand – or when moving house.

It is possible that some modern refrigeration appliances could have been redesigned to eliminate the dangers of laying one over on its side. But it’s just not really a problem for manufacturers, or even retailers. They all just keep them upright. So I can’t think why they would redesign them to solve a problem that they don’t have – and one that they don’t even mention to customers. I’m confident that the vast majority of fridges and freezers should never be laid down on their back, front, or at least one of their sides.

What can happen if you lay one down?

If you lay a fridge or freezer down on the wrong side, or on its back, vital oil from the compressor can run down one of the pipes connected to it and be unable to return. When the compressor is then switched on, this oil can get sucked into places it should not be – causing a system blockage. Alternatively, the compressor can burn out due to lack of vital oil. Another possibility could be the shortening of the appliance’s life due to partial loss of oil.

What is the safest way to transport a fridge or freezer?

Always unplug it well before you move it, in order to allow the oil and pressure inside to settle down before it’s disturbed. Otherwise, oil could be forced into one of the pipes when it is carried. If possible, always ensure a fridge or freezer is transported upright inside an appropriate vehicle. And, that it’s moved to and from it using a proper sack barrow so that it doesn’t need to be tipped over too far. Then at the final destination, leave it to stand for at least 5 – 10 minutes before plugging it in. If you want to play safe, leave it for longer – or for as long as the manual recommends.

If you have to lay one down – which is the safe side to lay a fridge or freezer on?

If you have to lay one over onto its side (never the back or front), then you need to examine the compressor to determine the correct side. My advice on this section is informed by an impressive video I found on YouTube (below).

There will be 3 or more thin pipes connected to the compressor. One will be thicker than the others, and made of copper. It runs up into the insides of the appliance. This is the side that should be kept at the top – pointing upwards. Never let this pipe point downwards, as compressor oil will run into it. For a proper, and thorough explanation, and to ensure you fully understand this issue, make sure you take the time to watch this excellent YouTube video – You can transport a fridge on its side – but only this way


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1 thought on “Can you lay fridge or freezer on its side or back when moving it?”

  1. I have been moving household furniture and appliances for 40 years, and finally I get to read definitively which side a tall freezer can be laid on and then transported, if a suitable vehicle is not available, and that video explains things really well.
    Thank you.
    G, Birmingham.

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