Carrying the Kenmore: How to Move a Fridge

by Thursday Bram on 28 February 2012 3 comments

There are a few things in your house that are harder to move than others. Some families have pianos, others have gun safes. And everyone has a refrigerator. Moving these items just isn’t the same as moving boxes or small pieces of furniture — not only are they expensive to replace if something goes wrong, but a misplaced hand or foot could mean that you wind up injuring yourself.

Whenever I’ve had to move house — or even just move a heavy item from one room to the next — I’ve had the benefit of my dad’s wisdom. Mike Bram, my father, also happens to be the owner of Fisher Piano Moving. He spends all day finding ways to move not just pianos but any sort of heavy and awkward object that regular moving crews don’t want to touch. Here are his best tips for making sure that you can move heavy objects and keep both yourself and the object intact at the end of the move. (See also: What to Know When Renting a Moving Truck)

Get the Right Equipment

Refrigerators are the most common big items that a person might try to move without calling in a moving company. Mike suggests getting an appliance dolly, rather than trying to use a normal dolly, to make the move. Appliance dollies have mechanisms built in that let you move the whole dolly, with a refrigerator or other appliance strapped on to it, up and down stairs. You’ll need two people — one pushing and pulling — and it’s especially important to make sure that you’re working in tandem. You can rent an appliance dolly from just about anywhere that you can rent a moving truck from.

Mike says that the biggest mistake he sees when it comes to moving refrigerators is a very simple one: “People don’t cover the fridge up with pads. Especially on stainless steel, any scratches you pick up will really show.” It’s easy to do, though. You can use just about anything as a pad, from shrink wrap to old blankets that you don’t mind ripping. Pad your refrigerator before loading it on the dolly, so that the appliance is protected from the straps. Then ratchet the straps just tight enough that you can’t get your fingers underneath them. There should still be a little give, though.

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Protect the Area You’re Moving In

You may not be moving your fridge very far. Maybe you just need it on the other side of the kitchen so that you can paint the wall behind it. It’s tempting to just push a refrigerator as far as you need it to go — after all, some appliances (and other large objects) have small plastic wheels on the bottom that seem perfect for the purpose. The truth is, in Mike’s experience, those wheels are more dangerous than helpful. Without them, pushing an appliance across your floor will often result in scratches and tears in the linoleum. With them, you’re likely to wind up with a broken wheel and a gouge in the floor. Things are worse on wood floors or if you take the appliance outside.

Mike does have an easy solution to the problem. He says, “One way to avoid those scratches is to take clean scrap carpeting, turn it upside down, slide it under the fridge and then slide the fridge out on top of the carpet. Thick cardboard can work in place of the carpet.”

Protect Yourself During the Move

Always be more careful than you think you actually need to be, especially when you’re dealing with moving something heavy. You need to remember the basics of personal safety — like lifting with your legs, rather than your back — but you need to go beyond those basics, too. You have to be able to control your refrigerator (or anything else you want) throughout every step of the move. Mike points out: “Don’t ever take anything on the stairs that you can’t control. If it gets away from you, it’ll go a lot faster than you will and someone will always get hurt.”

Get everyone who isn’t actually moving your bulky object out of the way. Children and pets need to be far away from the action, and Mike suggests that you don’t need any management around who isn’t actually physically up to helping with the move.

Use more straps and tie-downs than you expect to need, especially when moving something heavy on a truck. Mike has plenty of horror stories from his customers about what could go wrong: “We’ve seen pianos come loose and then fly out of a truck on to asphalt. There’s nothing left at that point but to sweep up the mess.”

What is actually too big to move on your own depends entirely on you. Mike has had customers who will move everything up to a gun safe themselves, but will call for help with something that big. It’s a question of what you feel comfortable moving yourself and what work you’re willing to do to make sure you’re doing everything right — from renting the right equipment on down.

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Guest

Our Craigslist fridge had instructions on moving it (that I found online). It could ONLY lie on it's back or preferably remain upright. Something about the oil in the compressor.

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Ron

As an addendum to your article; “transport refrigerators in a vehicle in an upright position under all circumstances”.
Reference moving instructions from GE Appliances. http://www.geappliances.com/search/fast/infobase/10000318.htm

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Dan Walsh

For protecting the floors, especially hardwood we use a product called Fridge Feet, we own a moving company and usually leave them behind for the customer to use in the future. Never damaged a floor yer with them, price is pretty reasonable for them.