Can I store a refrigerator unpowered for about 30 days?
October 15, 2020 10:56 AM   Subscribe

We're in the process of moving from one house to another, and in doing so we will need to put our refrigerator in storage for about a month. It won't be connected to power. Will that be a problem?

It has internal plumbing for an ice maker and for a water dispenser, so I'm assuming we'll have to (somehow) drain that. And of course we'll completely empty it and thoroughly clean it. We'll store it with a healthy amount of baking soda to absorb any other odors, and probably with the doors ajar.

Is this a bad idea? My wife is under the impression that once they're plugged in they should stay plugged in. I'm mostly worried about moisture that we can't fully dry out becoming moldy or the whole unit growing mildew.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
None of the refrigerators at the used appliance store here are plugged in and they have warranties.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:59 AM on October 15 [3 favorites]

Definitely leave the door ajar.
posted by Grandysaur at 11:03 AM on October 15 [6 favorites]

Great point. Do I need to do anything special to store it?
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:03 AM on October 15

Leave the door propped open.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 11:07 AM on October 15

In case it's not obvious, make sure it's stored upright.
posted by mikek at 11:10 AM on October 15 [6 favorites]

I have a small freezer that I leave unplugged for months at a time to no ill effect. The main thing is, as Grandysaur and Winnie the Proust noted, to ensure the door is open and stays open. A short stick or length of wood set inside the unit on the diagonal and long enough to stick out a bit works well for this -- don't put it in straight because fridges are wider than they are deep and it can get shifted and let the door closed if it's short enough for that.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:13 AM on October 15

I've stored fridge/freezers for long periods and have always let them dry very thoroughly by switching off and leaving door open for several days before storing. Make sure you empty the drip tray underneath, if it has one.
posted by unearthed at 11:24 AM on October 15 [1 favorite]

We have a second fridge that we only use rarely and regularly disconnect it from power and just let it stand there, door ajar. It doesn't cause any problems whatsoever.
posted by amf at 11:46 AM on October 15

Keep it upright, door ajar. If you drain all the moisture & dry it out & keep it someone where cool & dry mold shouldn't be a problem. Don't forget the drip tray.
posted by wwax at 12:08 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

If you store it in its side, you must let it sit upright for a period of time before turning it back on so the oil in the compressor returns to normal. And never store it on its back.
posted by Candleman at 12:09 PM on October 15

Simply because you do not mention where you will be storing this, I want to remind you that your refrigerator must be impossible for children to access because little kids sometimes find things to play in and die. More to the point, everyone above is correct. You can totally do this just fine.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:30 PM on October 15 [9 favorites]

I have a summer house, and we unplug the fridge (and prop the doors open) for about 7 months out of the year. It's 20 years old, and we've had no problems.
posted by kimdog at 1:20 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

Likewise summer house, and we usually prop the door by putting in a rag that doubles as a seal for any moisture we missed.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:01 PM on October 15

To emphasize the importance of a refrigerator having zero possibility for being accessed by a child who could get stuck inside, I know a family whose youngest - maybe 3 year old - daughter hid in a disused fridge in the family basement while tagging along unwanted while her older siblings played hide and seek. She was found dead a few hours later by her frantic family. This tragic accident and the guilt the older siblings still feel has haunted the family for decades since.

Even if this is in a storage facility please seriously consider how to make this kind of accident impossible. Similar to having liability for people who might trespass and drown in your backyard pool, if someone is able to access your refrigerator and suffers harm you may also be legally responsible.
posted by citygirl at 2:48 PM on October 15 [4 favorites]

If you’re concerned it’s pretty easy to just remove the doors.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:50 PM on October 15 [5 favorites]

Because used fridges have had food in them it is best as everyone says to store them with the doors ajar if they can't be kept plugged in. The best way to do that is with a piece of foam or other block about 1" thick. Duct tape it to the door on the handle side between door and frame and then duct tape the door (mostly ) shut. This leaves a nice gap around door for air circulation but completely prevents the propped open door from being accidentally shut.

I wouldn't remove the door. While there was a significant risk to children with old fridges that either had actual mechanical latches or very strong single point magnetic catches modern fridges (say less than 40 years old at a minimum) have much less powerful magnets that can easily be opened from the inside. There are essentially no deaths from this risk for standard refrigerators now. All the deaths you may have heard of are generally where some sort of additional latching mechanism (often a padlock hasp) prevented the door from opening. And as doors can be hard to adjust and stuff like water lines and heated compartments run through the hinges it can be a significant under taking to remove and then properly reinstall the doors on a modern fridge. For an extra layer of insurance a healthy wrapping with plastic stretch wrap will keep the doors secured from anyone without a knife. The big risk nowadays is from front loading washing machines; nice firm latch that is pretty much impossible for anyone small enough to fit inside to open from the inside

Generally you won't be sure to completely drain the water lines inside the fridge. Ideally you want to store it someplace it doesn't freeze and if not you'll need to pump through a food safe antifreeze like is used in RVs.
posted by Mitheral at 5:57 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

Mine was in storage (upright, ajar, dry inside) for a bit over 3 years and then worked fine another decade. I only got rid of it because I moved house and wanted a larger one. It may still be going strong.
posted by kitten magic at 7:27 PM on October 16

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