Tips & Tricks

How to Move a Refrigerator Without Killing Yourself

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There’s a reason why many people choose to sell their appliances along with their homes—these are some of the bulkiest, most difficult items to move from one location to the next. Even if you’re just trying to move a refrigerator to clean behind and underneath it, these tall, boxy, heavy, delicate beasts can be tricky to deal with.

If you find yourself needing to move your fridge to a new location within your home, load it into a pickup truck to move it across town, or to prepare it for a longer journey, you can use the following tips to complete the move with both you and the refrigerator in one piece.

Preparing to Move a Refrigerator

If you need to unplug your fridge for any length of time, you’ll need to take the following steps beforehand:

  • Empty the contents: With a little bit of planning, you should be able to consume most of the perishables in your fridge in the days before the move. When it comes time to move the refrigerator, you’ll need to clear any remaining items. You can temporarily store them in a cooler, if that makes sense in your situation.
  • Defrost freezer as necessary: If your freezer is harboring chunks of frost, you’ll need to get rid of these so that they won’t melt and make a mess. The easiest way to defrost a freezer is to use hot water or a hairdryer to melt the ice, using towels to catch and mop up the resulting water. You’ll need to turn the fridge off before completing this process.
  • Wash the refrigerator’s interior: In order to keep the fridge smelling fresh while it’s unplugged, you’ll need to make sure to prevent bacteria from growing in the interior. To do this, you’ll need to wash the walls and shelves with a mixture of baking soda and water. You can then put a container of baking soda or coffee grounds inside the fridge to help absorb and mask any odors.

Sliding Your Fridge Forward

Fortunately most refrigerators have wheels on the back for easy maneuvering. There are a few of different methods you can use to get your fridge across the floor without leaving a trail of scratch marks.

  • Walk the fridge forward: The simplest way to move the fridge away from the wall is to simply grasp it on both sides and gently rock it from side to side, scooting it forward in a step-by-step manner.
  • Use furniture sliders: Gently tilt the front portion of your fridge up off the floor (using a pry bar or with the assistance of a partner, if needed) and adhere sliders, also sometimes referred to as “furniture glides,” to the front feet. You should now be able to slide the fridge forward without causing damage.
  • Use an appliance dolly: If you need to move your fridge more than a few feet forward, you’ll want to load it onto a dolly, positioning it so that the refrigerator is tilting sideways rather than front-to-back. Gently tilt the fridge so that the feet on one side are a couple of inches off the floor, then slide the dolly underneath it. Most appliance dollies have attached straps and automatic tighteners that you can use to secure the fridge to the dolly.

Protecting Your Refrigerator for Longer Moves

In order to prevent damage to your fridge, it’s best to keep it in the upright position at all times. Moving a fridge on its side can risk oil leaking out of the compressor and into the coolant system, while moving it on its back risks damage to the coils. In addition, you can take the following steps to protect your fridge during a long distance move:

  • Put the cord in a bag: You don’t want the refrigerator’s cord dragging on the ground or getting in the way while you’re trying to load and unload it. To avoid this, wind the cord into a bag and tape the bag to the back of the fridge.
  • Remove trays and shelves: If you’re moving your fridge from one home to another, it’s a good idea to remove the interior fixtures and store them separately.
  • Use a bungee cords to secure the doors: Wrap the cords around the fridge to keep the doors from swinging open and bashing into nearby objects during the move.
  • Wrap or cover the fridge with moving blankets: Once the fridge is loaded into the moving truck, you can use moving blankets to protect it from any accidental scratches that may happen during transport.

Moving a Refrigerator Up or Downstairs

If you (or someone else) got your refrigerator into your house, it stands to reason that you should be able to get it back out, however impossible the task may seem when you eye the fridge and the doorways and staircases it may need to traverse.

  • Measure any tight spaces: If it looks like the fridge is going to be a tight fit, measure any bottlenecks in your pathway. You may need to remove doors or other obstacles before loading the fridge up and attempting to get it where it needs to go.
  • Round up a partner: Moving a fridge up or downstairs is a task much more safely accomplished with two people. One person should manage the fridge from above, while the other guides it from below.
  • Carefully move the fridge: With the fridge on a dolly, tilt it back to a 45-degree angle. With one person pulling back on the dolly’s handle and stabilizing the fridge from the top, and one person pushing on the bottom of the fridge from below, gently bump the refrigerator down the stairs.

Loading a Refrigerator Into a Pickup Truck

While moving a fridge with a pickup truck can be challenging, it can definitely be done, especially if the fridge is a smaller model.

  • Use a plank: While it’s possible to lever a small fridge into the back of a pickup truck using nothing more than a dolly and the truck’s tailgate, the safest method is for two people to  use a plank and simply walk the refrigerator up it, with one person maneuvering the dolly, while the other person supports the fridge from below.
  • Securing the fridge: Use ratcheted straps to bind the fridge securely into the back of your pickup truck, placing one strap across the top of the fridge, and wrapping one around it from side to side.

After you’ve safely moved the refrigerator to its new location, plug it in and let it chill for 72 hours before filling it with groceries.

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