The refrigerator is one of the biggest, most unwieldy, and most sensitive appliances. Typically, it should always be upright except on a few occasions where you can lay it down. How long are we talking?

Well, a fridge can be laid down on its back for a few minutes at a time, and no more. There’s a high risk of damaging the components at the back because of the fridge’s weight. If you must, lay it on the side instead. While it’s not an ideal position, it minimizes the chances of damage.

This article explains the vital aspects of laying the fridge down. We’ll tell you what happens when you lay it on its side, the best side to lay it down, and what to do if you’ve moved a refrigerator laying on its side.

What Happens When You Lay Refrigerator on Its Side?

A refrigerator in a horizontal position can ruin the internal components and potentially damage the fridge for good.

Here’s what happens when you lay a refrigerator on its side.

The Compressor Oil Moves

The main problem is with the compressor oil as it starts to move out of the compressor sump into the coolant lines, clogging them. This is because compressor oil contains rust and tiny bits from the normal wear and tear of the system.

A fridge relies on the compressor to move refrigerant throughout the system. On the other hand, the oil acts as a lubricant and is critical to ensure that the refrigerator works correctly. If you start a refrigerator whose oil is not in the compressor sump, it will seize up just like a vehicle without coolant.

Moreover, if the oil moves into the refrigerant part of the fridge, the compressor will attempt to compress it. In this case, the compressor will break, so there will be no more cooling.

Another problem with compressor oil moving is that it can get into the discharge line, and the compressor will push it through the system causing irreparable damage.

Spilt Water

The drainage tray is usually above the compressor, and the fridge’s computer is to the side of the compressor. When the defrost cycle starts, water collects in the tray. Therefore, it’s likely that there will be water at any given time. Thus, if you lay a refrigerator on its side, the water will spill onto the computer.

Consequently, when the fridge is turned on, it’s likely that the computer will blow and will need replacing. Not all fridges have the computer in a position where water from the drainage tray will spill on the computer. However, it’s a chance this could happen.

It’s best to jam a rag into the water tray before laying the fridge on its side to avoid spilled water,

The Compressor Components May Dislodge

The compressor has brackets, springs, or rubber feet that support it in an upright position. Laying the fridge on its side may cause these parts to stretch, break, or bend. Additionally, the compressor’s components may dislodge. This is usually characterized by shattering sounds or loud banging from the refrigerator after you turn it on.

What to Do After Transporting a Fridge on Its Side

If you move a fridge on its side, have it upright for a similar amount of time before turning it on. This allows sufficient time for the compressor oil to move back into the compressor sump. After, run the fridge at its max temperature setting for a minimum of two hours while it’s empty.

Which Side Do You Lay a Fridge Down?

The best side to lay down a refrigerator is on the opposite side of the compressor line. It can be the left or the right side, so ensure you confirm this location by checking the compressor at the back of the refrigerator. This side will mostly have the hinge side on top to prevent the doors from swinging open.

Even though the sides are sturdier than the back, always lay down padding to avoid scratching the surface. Moreover, if you’re moving the fridge on a trolley, ensure you don’t tilt it back more than 45 degrees. If you lean the fridge backward too far, you’ll have to wait for the refrigerant to settle before turning it on.

Besides, some refrigerators, like French door, bottom-freezer models, compact models, and built-in models, cannot be laid on any side. However, they can be tilted slightly to fit through doorways.

According to GE moving instructions, top-freezer models should be laid down on the opposite side of the hinges, while side-by-side fridges should be laid on the freezer side.

What Happens If You Move A Fridge Laying on Its Back?

Apart from damaging the components, laying a fridge on its back has further consequences.

Shelving May Break

Most refrigerator shelving is glass; thus, it can easily break due to shifting. Furthermore, the shelves are designed to slide out easily so they can bounce up and crack or shatter during the downswing.

Damage to the Back Panel

If the back panel breaks and exposes the internal components, damage to the fridge is likely. To this end, the compressor, ice maker, fan motor, and control board are susceptible to damage. This is because of the weight of the refrigerator as it puts excessive stress on them, resulting in mechanical damage.

Bottom Line

That sums it up, guys. You should not lay a refrigerator on its back for more than a few minutes. The best side to lay a fridge down is the side opposite the compressor line. After which, always stand it upright for the same time you had it on its side.