How Long Before You Can Use A New Refrigerator?

There's no better feeling than upgrading an old fridge. You get a new one that looks nice and might even fit more items. And, with advancements in technology, it might have features that you've never tried before! Of course, the problem now is figuring out how long to wait before using it. If that's your concern, we've got the answer for you.

You should wait 24 hours before using a new refrigerator for the best results. Of course, this can vary depending on the brand and model of your appliance, but try to wait around one day. We say this because you aren't sure how your fridge was moved or laid on its side, so the compressor oil needs time to settle back into place. 

A simple question can come with more concerns. For example, why does the transportation method of a refrigerator matter? If the refrigerator was upright during transport, would you still need to wait to let it settle? These are some of the topics we will cover throughout this post.

A customers choosing new large fridges in domestic appliances section in store, How Long Before You Can Use A New Refrigerator?

How Long Should I Wait To Use My New Refrigerator?

As we mentioned, you need to wait before using a new refrigerator, depending on how you transported it. When movers lay a fridge on its side, you need to wait at least 24 hours until you can use it, although this is a general guideline that most manufacturers recommend following.

Silver home fridge isolated on white background
Home refrigerator. Silver home fridge isolated on white background 3d.

According to GE, this timeframe may increase depending on your refrigerator's time on its side. So, if it spent more than a day on its side during transportation, your wait time would need to equal that amount.

For example, if it's lying on its side for more than a day, you'd need to leave it standing upright for 48 hours before use. GE also mentions if the refrigerator were on its side briefly, a few minutes of standing would be adequate before use.

That timeframe might seem like an absurd amount of time to wait. And, if you're in a rush, you might need to store items in the fridge quickly. If this describes your situation, some suggest waiting at least 12 hours before using it. 

Of course, sometimes movers will take this into account and send it to your home while keeping it upright. If it was upright during transport, it's still recommendable to let it stand for a few hours before plugging it in.

What Is The Safest Time To Wait Before Using A New Fridge?

Choosing how long to wait before using a new refrigerator can seem unclear. Some companies recommend waiting as low as four hours before using the refrigerator, while others recommend waiting up to 24, so this can vary.

It raises the question, what's the safest choice? Well, we recommend following your appliance manufacturer's instructions or at least waiting 12 hours.

A general rule would be the longer you wait, the better. The safest timeframe to choose would be 12-24 hours of standing upright before use.

Otherwise, there are two potential scenarios that you might run into. In the first case, you'll plug it in. The refrigerator will attempt to start running. But, its attempt will be short-lived because the compressor will burn out. 

In the second case, it will attempt to start running. You might notice a few hiccups in its attempt. But, ultimately, it will begin cooling the inside. However, you might have shortened its lifespan without noticing.

Why Can't You Use A Refrigerator Right Away? 

Movers carrying refrigerator while climbing steps at home

With so much concern about wait time, it might get you curious to know why you can't use a refrigerator straight away. Additionally, why would the compressor burn out?

As one refrigeration mechanic states, the main concern would be the compressor oil. There are moving parts in the compressor that rely on it. When someone transports a refrigerator by laying it on its side, they're essentially migrating a lot of that oil away from the compressor.

So, if you attempt to start it as soon as you get it, the refrigerator will have little oil to work with. If the compressor has little oil to use, it might end up burning out. However, you can end up burning out the compressor if too much oil makes its way down at the same time too. 

The reason is that the compressor can only handle compressing refrigerant vapor mixed with some oil. If the compressor compresses oil only, it can result in mechanical damage. 

Thus, letting the refrigerator sit for a period will allow the oil to return to the compressor by gravity. This way, you can ensure there aren't any hiccups when it's finally plugged in.

Additional Notes

The refrigeration mechanic also mentions that this shouldn't be a problem if the refrigerator is upright during transport. In theory, it's possible to plug it in without trouble, although we recommend checking its warranty details before doing so.

If the manufacturer recommends waiting before use, and you go against this advice, you might void the warranty. So, it's likely that you'll have to pay for another refrigerator/the costs to repair it.

How Long Does A Fridge Have To Sit Before Moving?

As we covered, the only reason you'd have to wait to use a refrigerator is because of its transportation method. If it was lying on its side, you should wait around 24 hours to let the compressor oil settle back into place to avoid damage.

Additionally, too much oil making its way to the compressor is also a problem. In this situation, the compressor will compress a liquid it's not intended to.

On the other hand, if the refrigerator was upright during transport, there shouldn't be a problem with plugging it in as soon as it gets to your home.

However, that might not be a good idea because of warranty issues. If the compressor manages to burn out somehow, manufacturers won't replace the unit if you didn't follow their recommendation. 

So, if we want to avoid this situation, waiting 12-24 hours is advisable. After this period, plug the refrigerator into an outlet. Then, wait an additional 2-4 hours. This way, you can ensure the inside is cold enough to refrigerate your food.

Should I Clean My New Refrigerator Before Using It?

Hand cleaning refrigerator

Before you use any new appliance, it's always a good idea to give it a deep clean. Even if your fridge isn't new but moved, it's better to wipe it down rather than risk bacteria or dirt inside/on it.

Another reason to clean is that the refrigerator might carry a plastic smell that your food items will likely absorb, so that's something to think about.

You'll also have to remember that you can't guarantee the sanitary conditions of the manufacturing process. In most cases, the manufacturing area isn't sterile. So, it'd be best if you sanitize the refrigerator before use.

With that said, the best way to clean your refrigerator is to use a mixture of two tablespoons of baking soda with one quart of hot water.

Use mild soap and water to wipe the doors and handles. If your fridge has a stainless steel exterior, use a dedicated cleaner and wipe in the direction of the grain.

Is It Bad For A Refrigerator To Sit Unplugged?

Unplugged refrigerator

As some suggest, there's nothing wrong with letting a new refrigerator sit unplugged. It's the standard rule to let it sit upright for a day or so to let the compressor oil make its way back to the compressor. For older refrigerators, unplugging it and having it idle could damage them.

If you need to let an old fridge sit unplugged, you need to make sure you clean it extensively. Additionally, there should be adequate ventilation for the unit. Otherwise, there's a chance mildew might grow on the inside of your refrigerator.

Apart from that, there's no reason having a refrigerator unplugged can damage it. The only instances where it might end up worse for wear is if the unit is old or dirty.

To Wrap Everything Up

When you're getting a new appliance, there's a lot to consider. Before using a new refrigerator, you'll need to allow it to sit upright for 24 hours. This way, you ensure the compressor works as intended. We hope you found the information above helpful!

Before you go, do you have other refrigerator concerns? Is the compressor getting hot? To find out more about the situation, check out our post:

Is A Refrigerator Compressor Supposed To Get Hot?

Do you wonder if a refrigerator needs a water line? For more information, check out our post:

Does A Refrigerator Need A Water Line? [And How To Install One]

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