Can I store my refrigerator in an unheated space in the winter?
November 20, 2018 5:50 AM   Subscribe

I have a refrigerator that I don't need to use right now. It's only about 2 years old so I would like to keep it for when I move out of this rental. Right now it is in an unheated and uninsulated storage shed attached to my carport. I live in Maine. Is it going to survive the winter?

It was thoroughly cleaned before we moved and hasn't been plugged in for about 3 months. I think I need to get some anti-humidity stuff to put inside it, or maybe prop it open so it doesn't get moldy.

Everything I'm finding online about storing fridges doesn't say anything about winter, or it talks about having a fridge that is plugged in. I'm not finding anything about storing an unused fridge.
posted by apricot to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
All I have is an anecdote: my college dorm fridge has been stored in an unheated shed in upstate NY since 2001, and it still works when I occasionally use it for parties.
posted by metasarah at 6:13 AM on November 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah, you're fine.
I bought a "spare" fridge that sat in my garage for a couple years before it finally saw use. (Wife wouldn't allow that nasty old thing in her kitchen so - I got a beer fridge!)

Another anecdote: a former friend of mine collected, among other things, antique refrigerators. He kept them in an uninsulated barn for many years. When they liquidated the garage, other antique-fridge aficionados didn't blink at the storage location.
posted by notsnot at 6:36 AM on November 20, 2018


There's not really anything in a fridge that I'd expect to be bothered by low temperatures. If anything, they're designed to spend long periods of time being cold. Not a big deal.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:53 AM on November 20, 2018


We have had a fridge in our unheated cottage over winter for the past 60 years. Still works every spring when we turn it back on.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:57 AM on November 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Another anecdote, we rented a cabin on a lake in VT for every year during my childhood and that cabin had two fridges on the porch that were left essentially outside year round. No harm and when they did eventually die we thought it was due to age and not exposure to the elements.
posted by koolkat at 6:59 AM on November 20, 2018


When I winterize my unheated cabin: I clean out the fridge, unplug it, make sure it is bone-dry inside, and then throw in two bags of those smell-absorbing lava rock-things. That way I come back to a dry and relatively fresh refrigerator in the Spring. Totally fine, even in the wide range of temps in zone 6-7.
posted by Tchad at 7:20 AM on November 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Perfect. Thank you, everyone!
posted by apricot at 7:30 AM on November 20, 2018


Definitely prop it open or otherwise act to prevent mold, though. Otherwise you're risking some serious grossness.
posted by MangoNews at 9:03 AM on November 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


The mechanical parts are probably fine, as long as you don't try to operate them cold. Commercial electronic components are usually okay in storage down to at least -20C or -30C. Once you get below that, individual components can fail. (Capacitors and transformers crack, solder joints on large parts break, etc.) In short, you're probably fine. But if you've got a newish and smartish fridge and it drops below -40C, there is a real chance of permanent damage to the circuit boards inside.

Whatever you do, let everything warm up and sit long enough to dry out before plugging it in. Taking a hair dryer to the inside of the cabinet, if you can get to it easily, isn't a bad idea.
posted by eotvos at 9:46 AM on November 20, 2018


It's fine, biggest risk in a garage (for anything mechanical or even just ferrous metal) is storing it near chemicals, particularly fertilizers and muriatic acid. I left some muriatic acid sitting near a 'garage fridge' once and it caused terrible rust.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:01 PM on November 20, 2018


I'd put dessicant packets in the fridge and freezer compartments and then wrap it in plastic. The fridge is going to get dusty in a way that's a lot of work to clean. Plus, bugs. Wrapping it up after making sure the interior is moisture free will save you a lot of work when you do want to use it again.
posted by quince at 12:30 PM on November 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


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