How to Move a Refrigerator

Moving and want to take your refrigerator with you? Here’s how to go about packing, loading, and securing it to make sure it gets to your new home safely and damage-free.

Moving large appliances like a refrigerator can be tricky if you’re not sure where to start. Luckily, fridges have been around long enough that there is a pretty tried and true way to move it to a new home.

When moving your fridge long-distance, we’ll always recommend hiring a professional moving company to guarantee that you avoid damaging it and transporting it safely. Plus, they’ll come with their own equipment.

Whether you’re moving it cross country, or across town, here are some tips on how to quickly and easily load and transport your fridge.

In this post, you’ll learn that moving a refrigerator can be as easy as –

  • Measuring to make sure it’ll fit into your new home or apartment
  • Disconnecting the power cord and water line
  • Removing doors, trays, and shelves
  • Defrosting it and draining excess water
  • Padding and strapping it to an appliance dolly
  • Loading it into a moving van, POD, or storage container
  • Moving it into your new residence

That said, in the real world, it’s rarely that simple.

But by considering the following pointers, you’ll increase the likelihood of getting your refrigerator moved without unnecessary hassle or damage.

Should You Take Your Refrigerator or Leave It Behind?

Decades ago, it was more common for homeowners to leave their refrigerators and other large appliances in the homes they were vacating.

Now in the age of imported stainless steel super-appliances with Rolex-like price tags, that’s not necessarily the case.

You can negotiate refrigerators in your home’s sale, or you can take them with you to the new house.

Remember, you’re only obligated to leave them for the new owners if you’ve committed to doing so in the sales contract.

Measure, Then Measure Again

It’s official. You’re moving your refrigerator.

Congratulations may not be in order, but you’ll need to make sure it’ll fit into your new home.

We’ll assume that you didn’t renovate your kitchen after moving your refrigerator in and that you won’t have issues getting it out of your home and onto the truck.

But that may not be the case with your new residence, because in recent years refrigerators have gotten significantly larger.

This may cause problems if you plan on moving a new mega-fridge into a historic 18th century home.

If so, its doorways, halls, and stairways will be much narrower than those on modern homes, and it can make getting your refrigerator where it needs to be complicated or downright impossible.

To avoid getting to your new home only to discover that your fridge won’t fit, measure it and your new residence carefully.

Take into consideration –

  • The length, width, and height of your refrigerator with and without the doors attached (more on this shortly)
  • The width and height of halls, stairs, and doorways (remember, you can remove doors, handrails, and sometimes even door jams to make moving easier)
  • The dimensions of the kitchen space where your refrigerator will need to go (between countertops and overhead cabinets)

Insider’s Tip

If your new home is in another state, ask a handyman, friend, relative, or the current homeowner to take measurements for you.

Prepare Your Refrigerator for Moving

Remember the “good old days” when drinking water came from the tap and disconnecting the fridge was as easy as unplugging the cord?

Now there are water lines, ice-makers, and dispensers, and computerized touchpads to contend with.

Yikes.

Not to mention making sure to defrost your fridge ahead of time.

In short, if you’re uncomfortable preparing your refrigerator for moving and have a hard time following instructions in owner’s manuals, hiring a professional moving company is probably a good idea.

Here we’re talking about –

  • Certified service techs from the company that sold you your refrigerator
  • 3rd-party moving services companies
  • Local “handymen” (or women) and plumbers

For help finding the right moving company for your move, check out our list of the best long-distance moving companies.

If you’re only relocating a fridge to a new location and not an entire home, you don’t necessarily need an entire moving truck. You can get by with a pickup truck if you load it up correctly and put the refrigerator down on the front of the fridge.

Also, make sure to put plenty of padding or bubble wrap on the bottom of the fridge to avoid any damage to the internal parts.

If you do, consider having them remove the doors to make your refrigerator easier to move.

Just remember to schedule a time for them to back out once you’re moved into your new place to reattach the door(s) and reconnect all the lines.

Did You Know?

To prevent funky odors from forming on long-distance moves or while your fridge is in storage, place a sock or stocking inside filled with clean kitty litter, dry coffee grounds, or baking powder, and if possible, leave the doors open for ventilation.

A few other tips for preparing your fridge to move:

  • Remove all perishables and non-perishables
  • Make sure the refrigerator is completely empty
  • Clean up the inside with activated charcoal after emptying it
  • Keep baking soda inside the fridge to prevent mildew buildup

Protect Your Floors and Walls

For do-it-yourselfers, heavy appliances like refrigerators often damage residences during moves.

If not handled carefully, they can easily –

  • Gouge hardwood floors
  • Tear Linoleum
  • Dislocate door jams
  • Peel laminate off kitchen counters

Before moving your refrigerator, tilt it to one side just enough for your coworker to slide a moving pad folded into a square beneath it.

Then tilt it to the other side and spread the pad out, so the fridge is resting on it entirely.

Now gently pull the pad until the refrigerator is in a more accessible location.

And voila!

You’ve just moved your refrigerator into position without damaging the floor beneath it.

Also, consider protecting floors and doorways with excess cardboard, moving pads, or old sheets.

Or, if you’re moving everything in your home, renting special pads designed to cling to door jams from your truck rental company or a mover’s supply warehouse may be a great investment.

Insider’s Tip
If you’re using a dolly to move your refrigerator, make sure that small rocks, nails, or bits of glass haven’t embedded themselves in its plastic wheels. If they have, they can cause serious damage to floors.

Use the Right Equipment and Get Good Help

Here’s the deal –

Moving a refrigerator is never a 1-person job.

Even professional movers with years of experience and top-notch equipment always use two people, and with good reason.

It’s safer for them, the residence, and the refrigerator.

As for equipment, you’ll just need –

  • 3 or 4 moving pads
  • An appliance dolly (or a well-made box dolly)
  • Tape, stretch wrap, a few large mover’s bands, or a roll of tape

For help, try to find someone reasonably fit, handy, and intelligent.

Moving Your Refrigerator With a Dolly

Moving your refrigerator with an appliance dolly is safer and easier than moving it by hand.

Ideally, use a moving dolly with a built-in ratchet strap and a loading ramp.

Then follow these steps –

  • Bundle the electric cord and water line and tape them to the back of the refrigerator
  • Remove the glass shelves and trays inside, and the doors (if necessary)
  • Wrap the refrigerator with moving pads and secure them with mover’s bands, packing tape, or stretch wrap.
  • Tilt the fridge in the direction the doors open
  • Slide the dollies metal lip under the opposite side of the refrigerator (never secure the dolly to the front or back)
  • Lower it, so it’s resting on the dolly
  • Run the strap around the fridge (through the door handle if necessary) and snug it up using the ratchet
  • Make sure you have an obstruction-free path between the kitchen and truck

Essential Tips for Using a Dolly Safely

  1. The person holding the dolly should walk backward whenever possible while the helper guides them from the other side
  2. When going up or downstairs, the person holding the dolly should always be above the refrigerator, and the helper should always be below it
  3. Wearing heavy-duty gloves and shoes will help prevent skinned knuckles, smashed toes and cut fingers
  4. It’s possible to move a refrigerator with a box dolly, but be warned, they can be dangerously unsteady

Move Your Refrigerator by Hand

If you’re carrying your refrigerator by hand, wrapping it in pads will make it too hard to get a good grip – so don’t.

Instead, make sure to protect your home from mishaps like bumping into a wall or dropping the fridge on the floor.

To carry it properly, you and your partner will need to use the “high-low” approach –

  • If the doors haven’t already been removed, secure them with bands or stretch wrap
  • Tilt the top of the refrigerator away from the direction the doors open until it’s at about a 45-degree angle
  • The first person holds the fridge near the top corners, while the second grabs and lifts from the bottom until the lowest edge are 8 or 10 inches above the floor

You can also use furniture sliders and moving straps to make it easier to move.

Like when using a dolly, the person holding the top of the refrigerator should be walking backward when on flat ground or going upstairs or on a walk board.

When going downstairs or on a walk board, he or she should be walking forward.

A good rule of thumb is that when going up or down, the person holding the top of the refrigerator would always be above the other person.

Insider’s Tip

Especially in cool, dry weather, cloth gloves can make it hard to get a good grip on a refrigerator, but the ones with rubber strips or dots work well.

The “Wiggle” Method

Narrow doorways and openings between rooms can present challenges when moving refrigerators.

But if you aren’t using a dolly and can’t (or would rather not) remove your refrigerator’s doors, there’s a way to navigate them relatively easily.

  • First, get the refrigerator as close as possible with its doors facing the opening
  • Then, as mentioned above, get it situated on top of a thick moving pad folded into a square
  • Next, open the refrigerator doors and gently pull the pad forward while your partner guides them through the opening
  • Now the refrigerator itself will be much narrower, and by continuing to pull the pad forward and simultaneously turning it in the direction the doors are pointing, the refrigerator should fit through the opening

Secure It in the Moving Truck

Once the refrigerator is safely in the truck, take it off the dolly, pad it and position it in an upright position and against a wall. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of moving blankets around it to protect parts like the compressor and the exposed back of the fridge. Make sure that it stays upright and is loaded tightly. You may even want to use bungee cords

If you are loading the rest of your household goods with it, build a wide tier using your washer, dryer, and refrigerator as the base since they’re all about the same width.

If you are moving it alone, strap it to the wall of the truck with at least two straps – just make sure it’s padded sufficiently first.

And just remember, when you hire a professional moving company, you can always be sure that they will come with their own equipment and expertise on how to move specific appliances, fridges included.

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