The Correct Way to Move a Refrigerator

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Moving a refrigerator is a painstaking process because these bulky appliances are super cumbersome, oddly shaped, and HEAVY. Refrigerators are also filled with perishable items, both frozen and nonfrozen, as well as ice, fluid refrigerant, and fragile components. 

Refrigerators are expensive to replace or fix, so you are best served to have a professional move it for you, along with the rest of your important personal belongings. Professional movers have experienced crew members and the necessary tools to get your refrigerator and all of your possessions to their new home in perfect order. 

If you are in the Los Angeles area, or anywhere along the West Coast, contact Royal Moving & Storage Company. For a flat hourly rate, Royal Moving provides numerous services, from packing, disassembling and reassembling furniture, moving container rentals, and storage options, to moving your fridge or everything you own. With a nearly perfect Yelp review rating, friendly, no-pressure customer service, and a trained crew of moving professionals, you are in great hands. Royal treats its customers like family.

If you are not on the West Coast, or you need to move a refrigerator ASAP with no time to make other arrangements, we provide a step-by-step guide to insure your refrigerator does not get damaged and you and your team of family and friends does not get injured during the moving process. Patience is required, and do not try to move a refrigerator unless you have the proper equipment to do it properly. 

Required Equipment to Move a Refrigerator

Required Equipment to Move a Refrigerator

Even with the right equipment, moving a refrigerator is a very dangerous task. Falling refrigerators have contributed to numerous fatalities over the years. So, before you start to process of moving your mammoth refrigerator, get the proper gear together. You will get injured without it, so don’t risk it, especially when you are moving up or down stairs. 

Another reason to use the proper equipment is so you do not damage your expensive appliance. Major refrigerator repair costs run from $85 to $300 with the average repair cost averaging $173. In addition, it easy to put unattractive scratches and dents in its sides with proper preparation. Then, there is the ultimate disaster of your fridge tumbling down a flight of stairs. New refrigerators costs are way higher than repair costs. Top-mounted freezer models run between $350 and $600, bottom-mounted freezer refrigerators cost $800 to $1,200, and side-by-side models range from $700 to $2,100. In other words, take the time to move your refrigerator properly. Saving money to move it yourself without the right equipment could cost you a lot of money in the end.

The following items are required for a safe relocation of your prized appliance:

  • Appliance dolly
  • Straps
  • Moving blankets
  • Rope
  • Measuring tape
  • Screwdriver or drill with screwdriver bits
  • Plank
  • Appropriate vehicle for transportation: truck or van
  • Two or more people

Cleaning Out Your Refrigerator Before Moving It

Cleaning Out Your Refrigerator Before Moving It

The first step before cleaning out your refrigerator is determining whether you need to defrost it. Deciding whether to defrost your fridge before moving it depends on the distance to its new destination. If you have a new refrigerator, it is likely that it is an auto-defrost, sometimes called an automatic defrost, self-defrosting, frost-free, frostless, or no-frost, meaning you should not “technically” have to defrost it before moving it. However, some “frost-free” models can still collect a thin layer of ice, so beware.

Older models and even some newer models begin collecting frost the minute they are plugged into the wall, and the frost will begin to thaw the minute it is unplugged. As the frost melts, it will leak out of the refrigerator and create a slippery mess. This water could cause damage to wood floors and carpet and create moving hazards, which could lead to injuries from slips and falls. Therefore, if moving your fridge takes more than 30 minutes from start to finish, you will want to defrost it beforehand.

The first step to defrosting the refrigerator is removing all the food from inside it. We cover this process in detail in the next section. After the food has been removed, you will need at least eight hours to thoroughly defrost the refrigerator, so plan ahead. In fact, give yourself an entire day, if possible, to complete the process. 

Here are the steps to a proper defrosting job:

  1. Remove the food from the refrigerator and freezer.
  2. Lay down towels to catch the water as the ice melts and to minimize clean-up and damage to the floor.
  3. Unplug the refrigerator before defrosting.
  4. Allow the ice to melt on its own; do not scrape off the frost because it can damage the refrigerator and the natural melting process is less tedious and more effective in the end.
  5. Once the ice has melted, remove the towels from the floor, wipe up any excess residue, and wipe out the inside of the refrigerator until it is completely dry. Skipping this step could lead to mold growth in your fridge. 
  6. Placing a moisture-absorbent substance like activated charcoal inside the refrigerator after it is defrosted and dried will help prevent odors from building up during the move.

To speed up the defrosting process, follow all of the same procedures above, but put a pan of boiling water inside the freezer and shut the door. Then, replace the hot water every 10 minutes

Take the opportunity to clean out the entire refrigerator after you defrost it, including removing shelves and drawers to get in hard-to-reach nooks. Use a non-abrasive sponge, dish soap, and a tub of water to clean the shelves and drawers. Use a multipurpose cleaner to cleaner, dish towels or paper towels to clean the inside of the refrigerator, including the walls, shelf seams, and the rubber door seal. Use an old toothbrush to get into tight crevices.

Moving Perishable Refrigerator Items

Moving Perishable Refrigerator Items

The best approach to dealing with your refrigerator perishables is to eat them all. No, not all of the food on the day of your move. Instead, plan a week in advance to eat your leftovers, fruits and vegetables, and meat, and drink anything that has already been opened. This also provides the opportunity to throw away expired foods and condiments. For anything you don’t eat and don’t want to toss in the garbage, you must have coolers big enough to hold all of your perishables and enough ice to keep it cool during the move. 

Securing Your Refrigerator for a Safe Move

Securing Your Refrigerator for a Safe Move

All refrigerators are different, so disconnect your fridge according to the instructions in the user manual. If your refrigerator has an ice maker and water filter in your fridge, make sure you disconnect them well in advance using the method that is advised in the owner’s manual. Even if you hire a professional moving company to move your refrigerator, disconnect it properly. Some moving companies will not disconnect it for you, and even if they do, you will be charged for the time it takes to disconnect it.

After the refrigerator is unplugged and completely disconnected, protect the cords by rolling them up the cord and taping them securely to the back of the fridge. Remove the refrigerator’s drawers and glass shelves for safe transport.

Some owners manuals suggest removing the fridge doors when moving it. This seems a little overboard, but you might prefer this method. If you don’t remove the doors, they must be secured shut. Using tape to secure the doors shut leaves residue once the tape is removed, so secure them closed using bungee cords or a rope. Do not tighten ropes or cords so much that they damage the surface of the refrigerator. Remember, keep all screws and pieces together in a zip lock bag, and place the bag in a box that includes other essentials you will need on the day of the move. the refrigerator doors are secure, wrap the exterior of the refrigerator in moving blankets or some other practical cushioning to prevent scratches and dings to the surface. Use bungee cords or ropes to keep the blankets neatly in place.

Create a Moving Plan to Safely Move Your Refrigerator

Refrigerators are unwieldy beasts that do not cooperate with every doorway. You are bound to have an issue along the way, whether it is your fridge’s current location or eventual new home. In some cases, you will need to remove not only the doors in your home, but also the doors on your refrigerator in order to get the fridge in and out.

Using a measuring tape, you will need to measure the height, width and depth of your refrigerator down and write down the measurements. Then, measure the height and width of the doorways and hallways in both locations. After taking the proper measurements, create a plan for how you will fit the refrigerator through each doorway. Attempting to force a refrigerator through a doorway will damage the house and the fridge.  

You will need to remove anything that is going to get in the way of a safe move. Remove doors from hinges, take off stair railings, and clear the path of all obstacles, including furniture, toys, rugs, pets, and children, so you have a clear path out of the house and onto the moving truck.

Now, you are actually ready to move your refrigerator.

Moving Your Refrigerator the Proper Way to Avoid Damage and Injury

Moving Your Refrigerator the Proper Way to Avoid Damage and Injury

After creating a moving plan and preparing your refrigerator for moving, it is now time to slide out the refrigerator and strap it to the dolly. Many refrigerators are on wheels, so slide the fridge forward, which should be easy. To be safe, lift the fridge forward slightly and place furniture sliders underneath the back of the refrigerator. Then position yourself at the front of the fridge, grab both sides and push it side to side while guiding it forward. Sometimes you can also pull it forward in a straight shot. Just be sure to keep your knees bent and back as straight as possible.

Next, it’s time to load the fridge onto the appliance dolly. Have one person lift the fridge a few inches as the other person slides the moving dolly underneath the side of the refrigerator. Do not slide the dolly underneath the front or back of the fridge. Leaning the front or the back of the refrigerator onto the dolly will make it more difficult to move and harder to fit through hallways, stairwells, and doorways. It could also damage the fridge. After gently tilting the refrigerator and leaning one of the sides onto the dolly, use the dolly’s straps to tighten the fridge into place. The straps should be snug, but not so tight that they damage the refrigerator. Do not tip the fridge back more than 45 degrees. 

Begin moving slowly moving the refrigerator, but remember to set it back down at any time if you feel any strain or stress. The priority is your safety. When lowering the fridge, do it slowly and with someone on the other side who helps guide it gently down.

If stairs are involved, walk the refrigerator to your first step. Take extra precaution going down stairs. As one person guides the refrigerator with the dolly, the other should be below it, helping guide the dolly down each step one at a time. Do not push the fridge down the steps; instead, pull the dolly back toward you as you keep the fridge tilted at 45 degrees. Maintain full control of the dolly at all times by continuing to pull it toward you. The person at the bottom of the dolly makes sure that the fridge is always positioned towards the back of the dolly. It should never project forward.

Moving Truck

Once you get to the truck, use a plank to guide the refrigerator into the pickup or moving truck. Using a plank makes the move much easier to get the fridge into the truck, as opposed to lifting it from the ground to the edge of the back of the truck.

Do not lay the refrigerator down. Instead, secure the refrigerator to the truck using straps along the top and sides of it. You do not need to detach the dolly from the refrigerator. It is easier to keep it on the refrigerator instead of removing it and securing it again when you reach your destination.

Remove the refrigerator from the truck using your plank. If stairs are involved at your refrigerator’s new home, go up the steps one at a time, with the person on top tugging the dolly up and the person below pushing to maintain control of the dolly. Wait a few hours before plugging the refrigerator back in. Once you plug the fridge back in, wait 24-72 hours before putting food into it. The manufacturer’s instruction manual provides the appropriate among of time.

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