Can I Lay My Refrigerator On Its Side?

Refrigerators are typically transported upright, but due to certain circumstances, there may be no other choice but to lay a refrigerator on its side during transport. We’ve been seeing a lot of questions about this and if it will create problems for your fridge later on.

Fortunately, while it will affect your fridge, it will only be temporary. You can safely lay a refrigerator on its side without any long-lasting ill effects, provided that you’ll let your fridge rest upright for at least 4 hours (24 hours at most) before turning it on.

In this article, we will discuss what happens when you lay your refrigerator on its side, and what to do before turning it on.

Warning: if you plan on not reading the next parts of this article (we highly suggest that you do!), take note that some refrigerator models (French Door, Side-by-Side, Bottom Freezer) should not be laid on its side at all cost.

How a refrigerator works

Refrigerators work by continuously evaporating and condensing a refrigerant gas to produce a cooling effect inside the compartment. They do this with help of a compressor that pumps the refrigerant gas to the refrigerator’s coils.

To help the compressor run smoothly, it has specially formulated oils that lubricate and cool the compressor. This oil is what causes issues to the refrigerator when you lay it on its side.

What happens to a refrigerator when you lay it on its side

When laid sideways, the oil can run off from the compressor to the cooling coils. Since the oil is thick and viscous, it can easily clog up the coils. This prevents the refrigerant gas from flowing through them and thus your refrigerator won’t cool.

If the compressor runs with an improper amount of lubricating oil, it can get damaged and overheat.

Moreover, the compressor is supported by brackets that hold it in an upright position. If laid on its side, the brackets may give way, or the compressor’s internal parts may get dislodged. You’ll know something went wrong if loud banging and shuddering sounds are coming from the compressor after you turned it on.

Can a refrigerator be transported on its side?

Ideally, refrigerators should be transported upright to minimize the disturbance of the sealed refrigeration system and to prevent damage to the internal parts.

With that said though, it is generally safe to lay a refrigerator on its side provided that you let it rest upright before turning it on. This will allow the oils to flow back down to the compressor.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to let the refrigerator rest upright (and unplugged) for the same amount of time that it was lying on its side. If you laid it on its side for 4 hours, then you should let it rest upright for 4 hours as well.

Do note that not all refrigerators can be laid on their side. Side-by-sides, french doors and bottom freezers should be kept upright at all times. If you are unsure, consult with the brand’s representative to give you the best course of action.

Tip: you can compromise by tilting your refrigerator sideways. This will keep the compressor oils from spilling somewhat.

What to do after you lay a refrigerator on its side

Luckily, the side effects (pardon the pun) are only temporary. Here are the steps to take before turning your refrigerator on after its been laid on it’s side.

  • Take off the box and set it up in its final position.
  • Let it rest upright and unplugged for at least 4 hours (24 at most) to let the oil settle back into the compressor.
  • Run it at the max temperature setting for at least 2 hours while it’s empty.
  • Done! You can now put food into the refrigerator!


In summary:

  • Yes, it is generally safe to lay your refrigerator on its side when transporting it.
  • No, it is not ideal.
  • You should let the compressor oil settle down before turning your refrigerator on.

We hope that we answered your questions completely! Please comment down below if you have any more refrigerator related questions that need answering.


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