Standard-size refrigerators and freezers are the heaviest and bulkiest appliances to move. They also require special care, whether you're moving them from room to room or into a new home.
Because freezers and fridges are so bulky and heavy, it's best to find a few strong, willing friends or hired hands who have experience moving large appliances. If you plan to move the fridge or freezer yourself, say for a kitchen/dining room remodel, or cleaning, you should remember a few rules.
Empty and Thoroughly Clean the Fridge or Freezer
Before you prepare your refrigerator or freezer for moving, you need to take all of the food and medicine out of the appliance and clean it as throughly as possible. Even a short move into a different room will jostle glass jars and other containers. You'll end up with a bigger mess to clean.
Place any medicine, drinks, or cold food you plan to keep in a cooler with ice. All frozen food should be prepared or donated to others. If you have a large freezer, begin using up the frozen food inside at least six weeks before moving. Planning ahead allows you to use as much perishable food as possible.
Once the food is out, remove the shelves and drawers; wash them; and allow them to dry. Take a picture or label shelves and drawers as you remove them so you remember where they go. For a truck or van relocation, you can place the shelves back inside and tape them to the appliance walls. Or, pack them securely wrapped in boxes.
Use a mixture of baking soda and water to clean all of the walls and shelves inside the appliance. Dry thoroughly. Even a small bit of rotting food will make the fridge or freezer stink when it's turned off, so be sure to get into all of the nooks and crannies.
Defrost the Appliance In Advance
You may get away with leaving the freezer full of frost and ice, but only take this route if you think you can have the appliance moved in under 30 minutes. After this point, your drain pan will become overwhelmed and start leaking water everywhere as you roll the appliance to its new spot.
If the refrigerator or freezer will be taking a trip in a moving van, pickup, or other vehicle, you should fully defrost the frozen sections a day or so in advance of the move. If you wait too long, the defrost process may not be complete. Then, all the leaking water will end up soaking the bottom of boxes in the moving van or truck.
Because the amount of frost buildup may cause the drain pan to overflow, locate the drain hose and set it in a shallow pan to catch overflow. You can also place towels around the base of the fridge to soak up excess drainage.
Have Freezers and Fridges Disconnected Properly
If you own a simple electric refrigerator with no ice maker, all you have to do is unplug the appliance after you empty and defrost it. However, if you have a gas-powered fridge or freezer, or if you have water lines attached to the refrigerator, the disconnection process will be a bit more complicated.
Any gas appliance should be disconnected and re-connected by qualified technicians. There's too much potential for things to go wrong when gas lines are involved for you to take care of this job yourself. Possible problems include gas leaks, line damage, and fitting issues. A certified HomeSmart service technician should handle tasks related to the gas lines. The same holds true for any complicated plumbing disconnections.
Move the Appliance Properly and Wait to Use It
Freezers and refrigerators shouldn't be tipped on their sides, since this allows compressor oil to flow into the lines that hold the coolant. If you absolutely must tip a freezer or refrigerator in its side, make certain the compressor is on the bottom. Secure the compressor with bolts if it isn't encased in housing.
You should also tape the refrigerator doors shut when moving the appliance. If the doors are secured, they won't get caught on a corner, bash a dent in the wall, or fly open and harm anyone. Some experts recommend rolling up a towel and placing it in the doorframe before taping the door shut. This keeps the door slightly open and allows ventilation into the appliance.
Don't use the appliance right away after it's been moved. Wait at least 24 hours to let any oil drain out of the lines. It sometimes takes a few days for a recently moved refrigerator or freezer to cool efficiently after it is plugged in, so be patient.