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I just had a strange recommendation when I wanted to move the fridge inside my house to a new position. It's just about 2 feet away.

I was told that I should wait 30-40 minutes after I unplug the fridge before plugging it in again. How is it so and what's the science behind it?

I understand this is usually a recommended way for moving houses but he said that even not moving any bit the above would apply.

  • 3
    Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Good question; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to participate here. – Daniel Griscom Aug 3 at 13:22
  • Some I assume from your question that you actually need to unplug it when moving it only two feet? I ask because I have moved my fridge closer to 6 feet to clean or access behind it without ever needing to unplug it. – Michael Aug 5 at 22:26
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There's 2 reasons to wait after moving a refigerator.

If you tipped it over the oil needs to re-settle in the compressor.

If you interrupted a run cycle the compressor may not be able to re-start, as the motor has a low starting torque and starts more easily working into a low pressure difference - ie after a little rest.

In the first case wait a few hours. In the second case 5 minutes is plenty, or you can ignore it and the thermal cut-out will enforce the wait if needed.

  • 1
    Actually you want a warm compressor to reduce starting torque, cold refrigerant becomes a liquid and requires more to start. – Ed Beal Aug 3 at 14:27
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    +1 on the thermal cut-out. It's designed to protect the compressor motor through power outages of a few seconds at the most inopportune possible point in the run cycle. I wouldn't make a habit of doing so, but once-in-a-while should be no problem. – smitelli Aug 3 at 18:41
  • or you can ignore it and the thermal cut-out will enforce the wait if needed - what is the "it"? The first or second case, or both? – WoJ Aug 4 at 15:48
  • that's the 5 minute case only (edit punctuation) – Jasen Aug 4 at 20:22
  • @WoJ you can ignore the advice to wait 5 minutes – immibis Aug 4 at 21:42
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Wait until the motor stops running. Unplug it. Keep it upright while moving it - it's o.k. to tip it slightly to put a rug or towel under to slide it along the floor. Or just slide anyway. Plug back in. Job done. The waiting time is only when it's likely to be tipped when carrying, or putting it on its side in the car, etc.

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    I agree with Tim. Once the motor is stopped it is fine to move. As long as the fridge is moved upright it can be immediately plugged back in. In fact it is better to plug them back in immediately while the compressor is hot if the system cools and the Freon condenses it causes slugging, this is not a problem with small scroll compressors. In many units there is a crank case heater on the compressor that needs to be plugged in 2-4 hours prior to starting the compressor this heats the oil and prevents slugging so if plugged back in right away it is the easiest on the system – Ed Beal Aug 3 at 14:25
  • @Ed What about short cycling? – Harper Aug 4 at 19:07
  • Short cycling is not a problem so much with a fridge compared to a larger AC unit, if it is an issue there is a timer on power up that prevents a short cycle but have only seen this high end models like sub zero and one other brand but both were more like commercial units. Most fridges this is not an issue with the commercial size / units that can keep it cold with the doors open for an extended time from my experience. – Ed Beal Aug 4 at 21:21
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Like many wives' tales, it has a nugget of truth.

You should wait a few hours before restarting a Freon based appliance, after you move it, if you significantly rock it, tip it or give it a car ride.

What's going on? The unit has a totally sealed Freon loop, filled with

  • Freon vapor
  • Freon liquid
  • liquid compressor oil

If you have tipped the refrigerator, compressor oil can flow out of the compressor (bad) and liquid Freon can go places liquids should not be. That can break the compressor (liquids don't compress).

The liquids will flow back once you right the refrigerator, but this can take a long time, because they may need to move through orifices, or vaporize and re-condense where they belong.

  • 2
    It's not a wives' tale if it's recommended by mechanics repairing them, is it? It's just applied to the wrong problem here. The moment the refrigerator is tipped you need a bit more than the 40 minutes OP mentions. But only moving it 2 feet while keeping it upright? No, not then. But that doesn't make it a wives' tail. – Mast Aug 4 at 12:45
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    @Mast It's a wives tale if they don't know why they're doing it. It's also a wives' tale if the message is passed around until its meaning deteriorates due to "game of telephone/Chinese whispers" errata; note how OP said "wait 30-40 minutes after I unplug". – Harper Aug 4 at 19:06
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For 2 feet (60 cm) total displacement, you're probably going to use the same power socket. I wouldn't even turn the `fridge off for that. Instead I'd roll the unit forward on its rollers till there's room, rotate it, then push it back to the new spot, and straighten up.

Kinda like shuffling a car from one parking spot to the next one over.

You're overthinking this, and your biggest danger is having stuff fall over inside the fridge, or the door swing open. Or scratching the outside finish.

The "don't lie a fridge down" rule does make sense, but you won't need to lie it down to move over one space total.

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    The advice to wait in the other answers all makes a lot sense. However, for such a short move, this answer makes the most sense of all. (Unless, of course, it must be plugged into a different outlet, but that wasn't specified by OP.) – FreeMan Aug 5 at 14:47
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It is usually said to wait an hour after moving an appliance like a fridge or freezer so that the fluid will settle.

A general approach as some may need to tilt or even lay the appliance horizontal, while others will only move it along the wall a few feet...

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    If the unit is tilted to horizontal it may take 4 hours to 24 hours for the oil to return to the compressor an hour is not long enough for this case, I have seen AC systems fail for this reason even after 24 hours being upright. The oil gets trapped in the capillary tube and can take a long time when the unit is tilted. I would doubt moving a couple of feet would require tilting enough to worry. – Ed Beal Aug 3 at 14:32
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    @EdBeal I have seen old units which have been working fine fail just because they were turned off ... no movement involved at all. But some recommendations are for anywhere from 1 hour to 24 so if you have the « perfect » number then please share as just moving causes some to fail.... – Solar Mike Aug 3 at 21:58

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