How to Move a Refrigerator in 10 Easy Steps

Appliance Moving Made Easy

Woman cleaning out her refrigerator before moving it

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It takes some work to move a refrigerator, but if you have the right equipment, time, and some extra help, you don't need a professional to do it right. Read through these 10 steps carefully before getting started, gather your equipment and helpers, and you'll be well on your way.

1. Measure, Measure, Measure

Before moving large appliances, measuring is key. For a successful move, you'll need to measure the thing you're moving, the space you're moving it through, and the space you're moving it into. Unlike some furniture, a refrigerator can't be taken apart to fit through a narrow door or hallway, so every inch of space counts.

Use a measuring tape to get the height, width, and depth of the refrigerator. Next, measure the entryway or door space the fridge has to fit through. Will you need to remove the door and it's hinges to ensure the appliance fits through? If you find that a space is too narrow for your refrigerator even with the door removed, you may be out of luck.

2. Gather Supplies

Before you start to move the refrigerator, get everything you'll need. There's nothing worse than starting to move only to realize that you don't have enough rope or the dolly isn't big enough. Gather these supplies:

  • Large moving dolly
  • Rope or strong cord and/or moving straps
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Plain paper or moving blankets
  • Packing tape
  • Scissors
  • Marker or labels
  • Dolly for moving the refrigerator (It's a good idea to take the measurements of your refrigerator to your local truck rental or moving supplies company so they can rent or sell you a dolly that will be big enough.)

3. Clear Out the Contents

Remove everything inside the fridge, including freezer items. Give away perishables and pack up items that you're taking with you, using a well-insulated ice chest for anything that might go bad. Remove and pack magnets and any items that are on on the door or on top of the fridge. I

4. Unplug It

Let the freezer defrost. This will usually take at least 6 to 8 hours, depending on the state of the freezer. It's best to defrost it overnight, which will allow you enough time in the morning to wipe out the inside. While you're at it, take a few minutes to properly clean the interior of the refrigerator so you'll be able to start fresh in your new home.

5. Remove What You Can

Remove shelves, especially if they're glass. If you prefer, tape the interior refrigerator drawers closed (avoid heavy-duty packing tape which can leave glue behind). If you remove shelves and drawers, wrap them with moving blankets, towels, or newspaper to protect them during the move. if your refrigerator is complex and shelves need to go in a specific place, then make sure you label them so you know how to put the inside together after you move. 

6. Wrap the Cord and Secure the Door

Wrap the cord, securing it so it doesn't get caught while moving.

With a strong cord or rope, tie the doors closed by wrapping the cord around the fridge. If you have a double-door, tie the doors together tightly. Tape will work as well, but just remember that when you remove the tape, the paint surface might be disturbed.

8. Position the Fridge on the Dolly 

Slide the refrigerator away from the wall. Slide the dolly underneath, keeping the refrigerator vertical (never turn the fridge on its side if you can avoid it). It's a good idea to tie the fridge to the dolly using moving straps, especially if you will be moving the refrigerator down stairs. Moving straps can be rented from moving companies or box supply stores; they can be easily adjusted and are a great tool for moving heavy items.

9. Move it Out

Once the refrigerator is in position, tip it back, with one person at the front and one at the back. A third person can help direct and jump in when someone needs help.

If you're moving it downstairs, it's best to move the refrigerator down the steps, bottom first. Take it slow, easing the dolly down one step at a time. If the person holding the dolly handles needs help holding the weight, have an extra person help.

Once the refrigerator is out of the house, secure it in the truck you're using for the move. If you possibly can, keep the refrigerator vertical: Lying it on its side can cause damage.

If you're renting a truck, you'll probably have access to a ramp. When the refrigerator is inside the truck, secure it (and the dolly) using moving straps. If you're using a borrowed pickup truck it's important to line the back of the truck with pads to avoid scraping the surface; again, secure the refrigerator and dolly carefully.

10. Move It In

Reverse the process of moving the refrigerator from the truck to your new home, and position it into its new space. Before you plug it in, let the refrigerator sit for at least 2 to 3 hours. This allows the fluids to flow back into the compressor. This is critical to its cooling mechanism.

Once you've moved the refrigerator in, plug it in and leave it. It'll take a while before the fridge is ready to use. Some require three days before they'll reach optimum temperature. Check your manual for details.

Tips for Moving Your Fridge

  • Don't place it on its side. Always keep the refrigerator standing upright as much as possible. This ensures that oil won't seep into the cooling tubes which can cause permanent damage.
  • Read the manual. Check moving instructions in your refrigerator's manual before you move. It'll highlight important safety tips, advice and warn you of potential problems.
  • Don't hesitate to call a professional. While it seems simple enough, refrigerators are heavy and awkward, and moving them incorrectly can cause permanent damage. If you're unsure about moving it, call a professional mover.