How to Move a Refrigerator in 6 Steps

By Jenny Rollins

Posted on October 27th, 2022

6 Steps | How to Transport a Refrigerator | FAQ

Two men in jumpsuits demonstrating how to move a refrigerator.

Refrigerators are the largest, heaviest, and most expensive appliance in many homes ― and one of the trickiest to move.

So, how do you move a fridge as safely and easily as possible? We turned to the pros to find out. We talked with Lionel Booth, owner of Mr. Move It All moving company in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, to get expert advice on moving and transporting a fridge.*

We’ll give you all the good advice, but remember, you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re worried about moving a fridge yourself, a professional mover can make things easier and safer for you and the fridge.

How to Move a Refrigerator in 6 Steps

Step 1: Clear Out Your Fridge.

Before you move a fridge, you need to completely clear it out. Remove any food, drinks, ice packs, and other items from your fridge and freezer. Remove the shelving and drawers, too, to prevent them from getting damaged as you move.

What you do with the food depends on where you move. If you’re moving close by, you may be able to pack your perishable food into coolers with ice. You also probably don’t need to defrost your fridge if you can set it up again within a few hours.

But for long-distance moves, you’ll probably need to get rid of the food and defrost the refrigerator. Disconnect the fridge’s water, unplug the unit, open the doors, and let the fridge sit for at least six to eight hours before moving it.

Step 2: Clear a Path.

Next, you’ll need to make a path to get your fridge out of the house. Find the closest door the fridge can fit through, whether that’s the front door, a sliding glass door in the kitchen, or a garage door.

Use a tape measure to get your fridge’s dimensions, and then measure any doorways, stairways, or tight corners you need to get around.

Clear any obstacles out of the way. You don’t want to trip and risk damaging your fridge (or yourself).

Step 3: Prepare the Fridge.

Before you move the fridge, you’ll want to disassemble what you can, disconnect the fridge from the wall, unplug it, and disconnect the water.

If your fridge is small, you might only have to remove the fridge’s handles to make it fit through the space. But for larger fridges, Booth recommends taking the doors off.

Removing all this might sound like a lot, but Booth says he generally has to remove six bolts total, plus the plugs for wiring and water. (And remember, you can always hire a pro like Booth to handle all this for you.)

Next, Booth recommends throwing a blanket over the unit to protect the surface. He secures that blanket with a big rubber band, but you could use moving wrap instead. This will also keep the doors securely shut if you didn’t take them off.

💡Pro tip: Butterflying a fridge
You won’t always have to remove parts of your fridge. Booth says that, “If we are lucky and there’s no hallway, we can butterfly the fridge out.” Butterflying a fridge, means opening the fridge doors and moving the fridge door-first through a doorway, pivoting as needed.

Step 4: Load Your Fridge Onto the Truck.

It’s time to move the fridge out of your house and onto your moving truck.

Booth’s advice? Get help, and skip the dolly unless it’s a small fridge. And keep the fridge upright.

“Most of the time there’s three of us,” Booth says. Two of them carry the fridge with a harness strap, while the third person guides the fridge to keep it from hitting any walls and doorways.

Booth warns that if you choose to use a dolly, you have to be very careful. If it falls off, one bump can warp the shape of the whole fridge and ruin it.

That’s why Booth uses straps. Here’s how to move a refrigerator using straps:

  • Get a partner and put both of your moving straps on.
  • Tilt your fridge gently and slide the slack straps underneath.
  • Repeat for the second strap.
  • Carefully lift the item with your partner and move the fridge with small steps.
  • Have a third person guide you out.

Or, to keep you and the fridge from taking damage, let a mover handle the hard stuff for you.

Booth recommends putting the fridge on the truck last and taking it off first. It’s hard to navigate packing around the fridge, and it’s one of the first things you’ll want set up in your new house.

💡How to a move a refrigerator by yourself
If you have a small fridge and an easy pathway, you may be able to move your fridge yourself with a dolly. But if you want an easy way to move a refrigerator, get movers or friends to help.

Step 5: Transport the Fridge.

Make sure your fridge is secure and upright in the truck, using ratcheting straps if you have them. And if at all possible, keep the fridge upright instead of on its side. Then drive it to your new home.

Step 6: Set Up Your Fridge Again.

When you’ve reached your new home, unload the fridge and set it up again. Reassemble any parts you took off, hook the fridge up to the wall, and connect the water in your new home.

If the fridge has been on its side at any point, Booth says you need to wait 24 hours before plugging it in. The refrigerant in the fridge needs to drain back down or it could damage the fridge. If it stays upright, Booth says you can plug it in right away.

How to Transport a Refrigerator

  • Keep the fridge upright. Booth’s number one moving tip and trick for transporting fridges? “Don’t lay them down.” Keeping your fridge upright means you won’t have to wait to plug your fridge in after the move. It also helps prevent any falls that can ruin the unit.
  • Use a moving blanket. Secure a moving blanket around the fridge to protect its surface.
  • Secure the fridge in the truck: Make sure your fridge can’t move around in the moving truck. Use straps or tightly packed items to keep the fridge from shifting in transport.

FAQs About How to Move a Refrigerator

You may be able to move a refrigerator by yourself using a dolly. But that only works for small fridges. Read our guide on how to move a refrigerator.

You can plug your refrigerator back in immediately unless you transport it on its side. If it’s been on its side, you should wait 24 hours before plugging your refrigerator back in. Read our guide on how to move a refrigerator.

Yes, moving a refrigerator can be dangerous, since they’re big, heavy objects. But most people can safely move a refrigerator with some help ― as long as they know how to move a refrigerator before getting started.

You can use a dolly to move small refrigerators. For larger, deeper fridges, use moving straps instead. Read our guide on how to move a refrigerator. Read our guide on how to move a refrigerator.

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