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Can You Lay a Refrigerator on Its Side? (Quick Answers)

Refrigerators have become an inseparable part of our lives since we rely on it to keep our food fresh and preserve them for a long time. It is a convenient way of storing food and other temperature-sensitive items without letting them go bad.

Therefore, it is important for use to know how to handle this appliance properly – and this article discusses the correct handling procedures of a refrigerator.

Lay a refrigerator on its side

You should not lay a refrigerator in its side for storage or transportation as most refrigerator manufacturers advice so. Laying it on its sides will cause the oil in the compressor to flow from the compressor tube to the coolant lines and result in permanent damage to the internal components.

It is highly suggested that you do not move a refrigerator in its side – if you do so, it can ruin its internal components and may damage it to an irreparable extent. This mostly occurs due to the fluid flow in the compressor and other parts of the refrigerator.

If the refrigerator is laid on its side, the oil from the compressor will flow into the coolant lines from the compressor tubes and disrupt flow when trying to operate the refrigerator.

In cases the refrigerator has been laid on its side, you need to keep it in an upright position for several hours or more depending on how much time it was laying on its sides.

This has to be done to ensure that the oil gets sufficient time to return back to the compressor tubes from the coolant lines and the coolant lines are clear or any oil.

If it is possible, try to transport or move your refrigerator in an upright position because that will allow you to use the refrigerator without having to wait.

If that isn’t possible, check your refrigerator’s compressor line and lay your refrigerator in the opposite side of it – and once the transportation is over, you need to let the refrigerator sit for at least 2-3 hours for the oils to clear out of the coolant lines.

During transportation:

During transportation, keeping your refrigerator on its side is a bad decision and harmful for your refrigerator because keeping it laying on its side causes the oils to flow from the compressor to the coolant lines.

That’s not all, the sudden movements and the vibrations while transporting the refrigerator could cause its internal fluids to reach to undesirable locations.

If you do not put it upright and give it some time to settle back the fluids, the internal components of the refrigerator could face severe damages.

For 30 minutes:

If you let your refrigerator remain in its side for a short period of time like 30 minutes, just keeping it upright for an hour would be sufficient to make it usable again.

However, if it has been on its side for a day, you need to make sure the refrigerator remains upright for at least more than 24 hours.

To move:

If you are moving the refrigerator from one spot of your house to another, you should try to do it in an upright position. However, if that is not possible – you can lay it on its side which is opposite to the compressor and move it around your house.

If you tend to move the refrigerator for a short while, you do not need to let it stand – you can use it again without any damages done.

Does laying a refrigerator on its side ruin it?

If a refrigerator is set to lay on its side, then the fluids inside the various tubes in the refrigerator will get displaced from their original position and reach other parts where it could cause a problem.

For example, if oil from the compressor runs off and reaches to the coolant – it can clog up the tubes due to its thickness and viscosity. As a result, the coolant cannot flow through the tubes properly and prevent the refrigerator from cooling.

In case you run your refrigerator immediately after it has been on its side, the fluids cannot settle back and thus the compressor will be prone to damage due to overheating from a lack of coolant flow and wear out due to friction since the compressor has its lubricating oil displaced.

Another potential damage of laying a refrigerator on its side is the chance of it getting its internal parts misaligned or dislodged – laying on one side would cause some brackets or be shifted to an angle and no longer move smoothly.

Which side do you lay a fridge down on?

Although it is highly advised that you do not lay your fridge on one side, but if the situation arises where you have to lay your fridge on its side – you better know which side to lay it on to do the least harm.

If you lay your fridge on the side, never lay it on the back since it houses the most sensitive parts of the fridge and the weight could cause damage to those parts.

You can lay it on its front side without any issues but if you choose to lay it on either of its sides, make sure to check whether the compressor is on the left or right.

Once you located it, lay your fridge down on the opposite side and move or transport it to your desirable location.

After you have done moving it, you need to keep your fridge in an upright position for several hours and keep it unplugged to allow all the fluids to settle back to their original position.

If you prematurely turn on the refrigerator, it may cause issues such as overheating of the compressor as well as wearing out of its internal parts – resulting in a damaged compressor.

How long can a refrigerator lay on its side?

You should not let your refrigerator lay on its side any more than 30 minutes. Otherwise, it would take much longer for the fluids to settle back to their original position.

However, if you kept the refrigerator lay on its side for one hour – make sure to leave it upright for at least 3 hours to let the refrigerator’s fluids to settle back.

Ideally you should let the refrigerator stay upright for 24 hours after having it lay on its side for extended periods of time – keeping it upright for 24 hours would make sure all the fluids have settled back and their residue from the tubes have cleared out.

However, one precaution is to never let your refrigerator be laid on its back since the back of the refrigerator contains the important pipes and tubes along with the compressor.

Laying it on the back side won’t only cause the fluids to be displaced, but also do damage to the components.

What happens when you lay a refrigerator down on its side?

There are several problems that you may face if you put your refrigerator down on its side, some of the problems that you may face have been detailed below:

Door and other brackets misaligned:

Keeping the refrigerator to lie on its side will create an imbalance of weight and put additional stress on the bracket and the hinges of the doors of the refrigerators.

The mass of the doors along with gravity would put pressure on the hinges – and if extra care is not taken to tightly tie up the refrigerator’s door, it may be vulnerable to the movements and vibrations while transportation.

These movements can potentially displace and misalign the hinges from its original position and thus prevent you from smoothly opening your refrigerator.

Fluids displaced:

Keeping the refrigerator on its side would displace fluids such as oil and coolants from their respective positions.

If you turn on your refrigerator without letting them settle, your refrigerator won’t start cooling and instead the compressor will start overheating. Displacement of the lubricating oil from the compressor will also cause it to start wearing out.

Damages done to the tubes and compressor:

Laying your refrigerator on its back will cause the refrigerator’s weight to be pressed onto the tubes and compressor located on the back.

Not only will putting the fridge on its back displace the fluid but also cause substantial damage to sensitive parts such as the compressor and the tubes – in worst cases, the tubes and compressor may be physically be damaged enough to be irreparable.

Final Thoughts

The majority of refrigerator manufacturers advise against storing or moving a refrigerator on its side. Laying it on its side will cause the oil in the compressor to spill from the compressor tube to the coolant pipes, causing irreparable damage to the internal components.