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Today I received my new refrigerator, and I've been told not to plug it in until a couple of hours have gone by. Some people told me a couple of hours was enough, but others have told me up to 12 hours. I understand the reasons as to why do this (although there's probably more to it than what I know).

How long should I really wait? Is there some science into this?

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Is this really still a problem? It sounds like a bit of information that has lived on long past it's time. –  Tester101 Nov 19 '10 at 13:33
    
Yeah, I thought so, but still, there's probably SOME science into it... Right? We should have a specialist on SE, a refrigerator technician –  Fernando Briano Nov 19 '10 at 13:46
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The last refrigerator we brought said 3hr in it's instruction but the driver said 4hr when he "installed" it. –  Walker Nov 19 '10 at 15:25
    
@Walker: How long ago did you buy the fridge? –  Tester101 Nov 22 '10 at 21:13
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@Tester101, About 2 weeks ago. –  Walker Nov 23 '10 at 17:20
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9 Answers

up vote 29 down vote accepted

The short answer is to check with the manufacturer. That way you can be sure to stay within warranty guidelines.

The longer answer is that it varies from model to model. When a refrigerator is placed in a non-standard position (for example on its side), compressor oil can run out of the compressor and up refrigerant lines. So if you don't stand it upright and wait, the compressor will pump without sufficient oil -- not good.

-M

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Of course, this also means that if it was transported upright, the waiting time is much less than if you had to lay it down to get it there. (but you still want to say some, due to possible sloshing, etc.) –  Joe Nov 19 '10 at 1:50
    
I plugged it in about 10 hours or so later anyways because I had to leave to work right after it was delivered. But I was still intrigued about the subject. It had been transported upright, so I guess the 10 hours were ok. The manual made no reference to this. Thanks for your answers! –  Fernando Briano Nov 19 '10 at 13:06
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I too was told that it hasn't been a problem for a decade or two - so I guess the best answer is check the manual, and if it doesn't say to wait, don't bother –  MGOwen Nov 22 '10 at 0:16
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The installation wait is to settle compressor oil and let it drain into the sump so you don't get slugging (partial hydraulic lock caused by the compressor trying to pump oil out of the inlet lines) or extreme head pressure (caused by excessive oil in the outlet lines blocking the capillary tube till it passes). After installation, one thing you don't want to do is pull the plug while it's running and immediately plug it back in. The compressor has to start against high head pressure and refrigerator compressors aren't designed to do this. –  Fiasco Labs Jun 12 '13 at 5:00
    
FYI. my brother plugged in a portable A/C that was shipped on its side, and had only been standing for a couple hours. After about 10 minutes of running, the compressor slowed down for about a 1 minute period, then seized up and blew the house circuit breaker. Trying to restart it a couple hours later immediately blew the breaker, again. I've heard time frames for waiting of up to 24 hours. –  Skaperen Oct 18 '13 at 2:46
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Don't plug it in for a couple of hours because the frig may have been laid on its side while enroute to you. Its because the compressor lubrication oil could get into the cylinder of the compressor and if not given plenty of time to drain back into the oil sump at the bottom of the compressor, could cause major compressor valve damage on start up. 2 or more hours is a good rule to observe. See 10's answer above also.

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Short answer straight away, this is a delivery driver trick. I used to deliver fridges we built or repaired.

  1. they don't want to wait while the fridge gets cold before accepting the delivery
  2. if it doesn't work, they don't want to have to cart it away after delivering it.
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We just bought a new Samsung French Door refrigerator. The manual recommends waiting 2 hours after installation before plugging it in but with no explanation for the wait.

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You only have to wait if the refrigerator has been laid on its side at some point during shipping. When laid on its side, the oil in the compressor goes up into the refrigerant lines. If you start the compressor with insufficient oil, it can be damaged. So, the manufacturers recommend 2 hours JUST IN CASE.

If you KNOW that the refrigerator has been transported horizontally, I'd leave it upright for 24 hours just to be 100% sure.

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And you never know how it was treated in transport. This Side Up often seems to be a challenge if our company's insurance damage claims records mean anything. –  Fiasco Labs Jun 12 '13 at 5:05
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The user manual of an LG GR-151SSF, which I just bought today (second hand) says nothing about waiting before connecting the power supply. Also, the section "IF YOU MOVE" says nothing about waiting before plugging in. I will just do it right now.

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Please leave it for 4 hours if it has been kept upright. This will extend its life greatly. And a unit should never have been laid on its side. Never.

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Three new fridges in 25 years. Never waited to plug them in; never had a problem. I never even heard of this wait time before.

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The refrigeration unit should sit upright for at least the same number of hours as it was on its side, longer if the oil was exposed to very cold temperatures. I would always set a minimum as well.

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