How to move a refrigerator

It’s not easy, but with determination and care it can be done

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two-door refrigerator in the kitchen

Moving a refrigerator from one location to another requires significant effort and time, especially considering that a refrigerator can weigh hundreds of pounds. You not only want to prevent damage to the refrigerator and surrounding property during the moving process, but also ensure you follow all safety precautions to avoid injury to yourself and others.

That’s why hiring a professional is beneficial, but if you can’t afford it, you will want to have at least one other person to help you relocate a refrigerator. Never attempt to move a refrigerator by yourself.


Key insights

Before moving a refrigerator, measure the fridge and any doors you may need to move it through to verify that the appliance will fit. Do the same at your refrigerator’s destination.

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You should never move a refrigerator by yourself. Have at least one other person to help you lift and transport it.

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When you move a refrigerator, use a hand truck that is specifically designed for the size and weight of your refrigerator.

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Modern refrigerators tend to have high-tech features, so read the owner’s manual to make certain that you properly prepare and disconnect your refrigerator for moving.

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Empty, clean and dry your refrigerator before relocating it to prevent the formation of mold, mildew and unwanted smells.

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Steps to moving a refrigerator without hiring a mover

Moving a refrigerator may seem simple, but it involves more care and caution than you would use when transferring furniture. To move a refrigerator safely and without damaging your home, or the fridge itself, there are steps you won’t want to skip.

“Modern refrigerators have a tremendous number of features to be considered when planning a move,” Aurora Hughes, director of communications at the moving and relocation service MSS, Inc., said.

“Whether handling a high-end brand that is built into the cabinetry with wood panels attached to the face, a smart refrigerator connected to Wi-Fi with a touch-screen on the door, or a classic side-by-side, the first step you should always take is to review the owner’s manual to confirm the manufacturer’s recommendations,” Hughes explained.

In addition to checking the manufacturer’s recommendations, Hughes outlined the following steps for moving a refrigerator if you are not able to hire a moving company:

1. Measure the fridge and surroundings

Start by measuring the fridge, the doorways in and around the fridge’s current location and future destination, the exact space where you plan to place the fridge after moving, and the vehicle you will use to transport the refrigerator. Verify that the fridge will fit through all of these doors and in these spaces. If not, you may have to remove the doors. If your vehicle cannot accommodate the size of your refrigerator, you can rent a covered truck or van from a company like U-Haul.

2. Empty the contents of your fridge

Completely empty the refrigerator prior to disconnecting it and then put any remaining food you would like to save into coolers. If the refrigerator has an ice maker, empty the ice bin and turn off the ice maker to prevent water from entering the freezer.

3. Prevent damage to your floor

Protect the floors immediately in front of the refrigerator. Lay down cardboard, moving blankets, or plastic strips in front of the wheels to prevent the refrigerator from creating indentations or scratches on the floor. If you need to help the refrigerator’s wheels roll onto the blankets, you and your moving helper(s) can slightly lift or tilt the fridge up onto the fabric. Make sure you lift with your legs and not your back to avoid injury.

4. Disconnect the ice machine

Have a plumber disconnect your ice maker (if applicable) from the water source if possible. Once the refrigerator is pulled away from the wall, you’ll have access to the electrical plug and the water connection. It’s highly recommended to have a professional plumber, handyman or appliance mover familiar with refrigerator relocation be the one to disconnect the water line and prepare the refrigerator for moving. If you don’t have the expertise, disconnecting the water line can unfortunately open the door for a catastrophic water leak or can cause damage to the water system’s delicate plastic components within the refrigerator.

5. Wait before you move the fridge

Allow the refrigerator to sit for at least 24 hours before moving it after disconnecting so that it can fully defrost. You can place towels in and around the refrigerator to collect any water from melted ice or frost. When you allow your refrigerator to defrost for at least 24 hours, securely prop the refrigerator doors open to prevent them from accidentally closing on pets or children.

6. Clean up

Clean the refrigerator thoroughly, as any food particles left inside could result in mildew, mold and unpleasant smells — especially if the refrigerator will be in transit or storage for an extended period of time. Check that the entire refrigerator is completely dry.

7. Wrap and secure drawers and other components

Secure any loose components inside the refrigerator to maximize the chance that they remain intact during the move. Plastic wrap is helpful for securing drawers. As for shelves, you can remove them from the refrigerator, wrap them in padding or moving blankets, secure the load with tape and pack them in boxes.

8. Measure the new space

Take measurements of the doorways and the refrigerator’s height, width and depth to confirm whether it will fit. If the refrigerator is too large, you must detach the doors of the refrigerator and/or your home. Due to the presence of a water line and electrical connections between the refrigerator’s cabinet and doors, a professional should handle this process. Moving a fridge can be complicated, much like moving a piano.

9. Make the move

Move the refrigerator — this is best done by at least two people with an appliance hand truck, which can be purchased (or rented) at big box stores like The Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Tractor Supply Company and Uline. You can also call your local hardware store to see if this type of hand truck is available. Place the side of the refrigerator (never the front or rear) against the hand truck (resting the fridge on its front or back can cause damage to its screen, handles, water dispenser, buttons, compressor, condenser coils and other parts that are essential for the fridge to function).

10. Put the doors back on

The doors should be replaced immediately after the refrigerator is successfully moved out of the space if you had to remove them. Leaving the doors off during transit can create issues with the seal when they’re reinstalled at the destination. To keep the refrigerator doors closed during transport, you can use ratchet straps or plastic wrap. You should not apply tape directly on the refrigerator, as it can leave behind a residue.

11. Employ ramps, hand trucks, blankets, etc.

Use a ramp if necessary to move the refrigerator from the hand truck into a van or truck. Secure the refrigerator in place with ratchet straps, and pad the appliance with moving blankets, ensuring that the fridge is not lying or leaning against its front or rear.

12. Do it all backwards

Repeat these steps in reverse when the refrigerator arrives at your new home.

Tips to keep in mind when moving a refrigerator

When moving a refrigerator, you want to avoid damaging the fridge and surrounding property. Even more important, you should ensure that you are transporting a refrigerator safely to prevent injury to yourself and others. Keep the following tips in mind to make this process as risk-free as possible:

  • Check the fit: Before moving your refrigerator to a new location, check that it will fit in the area you have chosen — with room for proper ventilation. Measure both the refrigerator and its designated space beforehand, ensuring that the refrigerator’s airflow is not blocked by surrounding walls or cabinets.
  • Use a hand truck: Unless you are only slightly moving the refrigerator out to see behind it, never relocate a refrigerator without a hand truck that can handle the fridge’s weight and size.
  • Safeguard the fridge: To protect your refrigerator’s exterior from scratches or dents, wrap the fridge in moving blankets or padding. Keep the padding in place by taping it together.
  • Vacuum: While your refrigerator is away from the wall, take the opportunity to vacuum up the dust around the compressor or condenser. If your refrigerator has an evaporator pan, clean it and allow it to dry.
  • Use care: Take your time when carrying the refrigerator on the hand truck, especially when going downstairs or coming around corners.
  • Have proper gloves: In cool, dry weather especially, cloth gloves can make it challenging to get a good grip on the refrigerator. Use gloves with plastic dots or rubber strips to maintain a proper grip.
  • Take care of the compressor: After moving your refrigerator to a new home, let it sit for 24 hours so that the compressor oil can settle.
  • Watch out for the ice maker: For the ice maker and water line connections, enlist the expertise of a professional. You may need to discard the first several batches of ice to remove any impurities from the water line.
  • Prop the doors: “If the refrigerator is going to be stored for an extended period, be sure to prop the doors open to allow for airflow,” Hughes from MSS, Inc. said. “Use a soft material that will not make an indentation in the door gaskets.” When the fridge is reconnected, indentations can prevent a complete seal, causing a loss of refrigeration and frost.

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FAQ

Can you hire a company to move a refrigerator for you?

Yes, you can hire a company to move a refrigerator for you. If you know of a moving company, simply reach out to ask if they relocate refrigerators and how much they charge. To find such a company, ask friends, family, neighbors or your social media following, and read online reviews to vet the service.

You can also find professional movers using resources like Thumbtack or Taskrabbit. Reach out to confirm that the company is properly licensed and insured, and ask for a quote to see how much it will cost to move the refrigerator.

How many people does it take to move a refrigerator?

At least two people are needed to safely move a refrigerator. Since a refrigerator is a large, heavy appliance, you will want at least two people to help with lifting, moving and maneuvering the fridge. When the refrigerator is on the hand truck, one person can hold the handles while the other navigates the fridge from the front, keeping an eye out for obstacles.

How can I protect myself when moving a refrigerator?

Your best bet is to hire professionals. If you can’t, just make sure to lift wisely. When lifting the refrigerator onto the hand truck, lift with your legs and not your back. To avoid injury, keep your back straight while bending your knees to lift.

Bottom line

When it comes to moving a refrigerator, it is best to leave that job to the professionals. However, if you cannot afford to hire a moving service, do not relocate a refrigerator on your own.

Have at least one other person to help you, along with an appliance hand truck that can support the size and weight of your refrigerator. Read the fridge’s owner’s manual for specific tips on moving that type of fridge.

Measure the fridge, the doors and the fridge’s future location to check that it will fit. Ensure that the fridge is clean and dry before moving. Prioritize protecting the fridge, the surrounding property, yourself and any other people who are helping you move the refrigerator.


Article sources
ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
  1. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” Accessed Jan. 23, 2024.
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