Moved a Fridge: When to Plug It Back In

At some point, you’re going to have to move your refrigerator. If you’re moving it upright, you’re in luck – no real problems there. If you have to turn your refrigerator on its side, though, you’re going to encounter a fairly common problem – trying to figure out exactly how long you need to wait until you can actually plug it back in.

If you moved your refrigerator and tilted it in any capacity I would recommend waiting 24 hours to plug your unit back in. This will ensure that your fridge will operate smoothly when turned back on. If you are a risk taker you can take exceptions to my rule. Keep reading and I will explain in great detail and you will learn about the “golden fridge moving rule”.

Can You Lay a Fridge on Its Side

The quick and dirty answer to the question of “can you lay a fridge on its side?” is Yes. However, if you do so you are risking damaging the unit if you turn it on to soon after it was laying on its side.

The golden fridge moving rule states that you should wait the same amount of time before plugging your fridge in as it spent laying on its side.

Therefore, it is crucial that you know how long your unit spent laying on its side or not level. Here are some examples of how long you should wait to plug your fridge in:

Time Fridge Spent
Laying on its Side
Time You Should Wait
Before Plugging Fridge In
5 Minutes 5 Minutes
1 Hour 1 Hour
24 Hours24 Hours

As you can see above the golden fridge moving rule is not very complicated at all.

A brief investigation of the situation will let you know why it is important to abide by this rule. As you might imagine, though, that answer is going to have to take a few variables into account.

What Happens If You Turn the Refrigerator on Too Soon

So, what happens if you ignore the common wisdom and plug in your refrigerator too soon? As you can imagine, it’s got the potential to do a few different harmful things. Mainly, you’ll end up putting too much stress on your refrigerator’s compressor and cause it to sustain damage. It’s might not fail immediately, but you’ll eventually notice that your refrigerator isn’t running as well as it did before your move.

If your compressor breaks, you’re going to have to replace the part – or even get a new refrigerator. As you might expect, it’s definitely worthwhile to wait a few hours instead of paying for a repair.

It should be noted, though, that some refrigerators cannot be turned on their sides at all without causing immediate compressor damage. That’s why it is so important to read the user manual that came with your refrigerator before you attempt to move it to a new area – it may be possible that even waiting the requisite amount of time to turn on the unit might not be enough to save it from being damaged.

How Does the Compressor Work

You should know how a compressor works because it is the part that gets damaged when you plug your fridge in too soon. It’s an important device made of several parts, but it plays a singularly important role in your refrigerator’s functionality.

Fridge Compressor Components

While refrigerator compressors do vary a bit from brand to brand, they generally have the same set list of parts. One of the major parts of the compressor is the start relay, which tells the device to start and stop. Then there’s the compressor itself, which is made up of the motor and the pump. There is also a capacitor, which sends electricity to the relevant parts of the machine.

Fridge Compressor Location

You’ve probably noticed your compressor without actually knowing what it was. If you look at the back of your refrigerator, you’ll probably notice a black tank-like part near the bottom of the unit. As such, you’ll generally need to move your refrigerator away from its resting place before you can actually access the compressor unit.

Fridge Compressors Function

The compressor is the device that’s responsible for moving the refrigerant through your refrigerator. It is, in short, the part of your refrigerator that is responsible for ensuring that the interior of the appliance stays cool. It both sends the refrigerant through the coils of your refrigerator, which cools the surrounding air, and then it compresses the heated refrigerant so that it bleeds its heat through the evaporator.

How Do You Know If You Turned Your Fridge on Too Early

You can generally tell if you’ve turned on your refrigerator too early by listening to the noises that it makes. The compressor unit is designed to compress refrigerant gas, not oil – when it tries to do so, it will cause the unit to suffer damage.

If you’ve noticed a loud sound coming from your refrigerator after turning it on, there’s a very good chance some oil is still left in the compressor lines. While you might be too late to avoid at least some damage, it’s still a very good idea to unplug your refrigerator to let any remaining oil drain out.

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