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Leave Freezers and Fridges Unplugged
For At Least 6 Hours After Moving

It is important to leave refrigerators, freezers, and wine coolers unplugged for at least 6 hours after moving them. Many sources even recommend leaving fridges and freezers unplugged for as long as 24 hours just to be safe. The reason for doing this is that, during transport, it is possible that too much compressor oil can mix with the refrigerant causing damage to the unit if not corrected.

To the understand the negative effect of this, you must first understand the basic process of refrigeration.
A refrigerator works by pumping a refrigerant (often Freon), in vapour form, through a compressor which pressurizes and heats it. The heated vapor flows through a condenser which cools the vapor until it condenses into a pressurized liquid. The liquid then enters an expansion valve where a large decrease in pressure rapidly evaporates a portion of the liquid causing it to cool (eg. can of compressed air). The cold liquid-vapor mixture then travels through the evaporator coil inside the fridge/freezer. As the fan inside the fridge/freezer blows the internal air across the coils, the refrigerant cools any warm air which vaporizes the remaing liquid. This vapour then re-enters the compressor and starts the cycle again.

The compressors moving parts require lubrication (oil) to keep it from overheating. As the refrigerant passes through the compressor, the vapour carries some of the oil with it. Since the oil is heavier than the vapour, gravity returns it to the compressor. The problem with too much oil leaving the compressor is two fold:

  1. The more oil in mixture, the less efficient the condensation and evaporation process. This means less cold (liquid) refrigerant to cool the warm air inside the appliance.
  2. If the evaporator is not working efficiently, this means liquid returning to the condensor. A refrigerant compressor is meant to compress gas, not liquid. The liquid can put to much stress on the compressor valves which can cause the compressor to overheat and underperform. The short terms effects are a drop in pressure which reduces efficiency of the refrigeration process. The long terms affects are that overheating can cause the compressor to seize.

The bottom line is that this rarely leads to immediate failure of the compressor but can definitely reduce efficiency and the life of the compressor. Considering the cost of refrigerators and freezers, waiting a few hours to plug them in after moving is definitely a worthwhile effort.

Check out the following links for more packing tips.

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