Storing a refrigerator that you want to keep for another home, use after a remodel, or other reasons isn't always easy. You need a place that's large enough to keep it, and you also want to make sure it's protected from the elements as much as possible. One of the ways to store a fridge safely is to use a self-storage unit. That way it's not in your house and in the way, or taking up garage space. Additionally, it's not out in the elements, where it could be harmed over time from heat, cold, and humidity.
It's not just about using a storage unit, though. There's more to consider than that. You also need to make sure you're preparing the refrigerator for storage the right way, so it has the best chance of working right when you decide to use it again. Here's what you need to consider, so you can get your fridge ready for storage and get it into the unit safely.
Whether you're unplugging the fridge for a few days to move it, or you're putting it into a storage unit for a longer stay, the process is still the same. First, the refrigerator needs to be turned off and unplugged. If it has any ice maker or water lines, you'll want to drain those thoroughly. There shouldn't be any liquids left inside, because they can turn moldy and make the use of the fridge risky at a later date.
Of course, that doesn't include the refrigerant that cools the fridge. You don't need to do anything with that, and it's a sealed unit that you shouldn't open. Give yourself enough lead time to get all the water out of the fridge, and to make sure the lines have dried out before you put it into storage. That will help with peace of mind, and reduce the chances of any problems with standing water in lines, the ice maker, or other areas.
You may also want to consider defrosting the freezer in advance, because that saves time on the day you're actually going to move the fridge. If you wait until that morning, or even the night before, the freezer compartment might not have enough time to fully defrost before you're ready to move the fridge. That could delay your plans, or cause you to move the refrigerator when it's not fully defrosted, which could create a problem with standing water and potentially cause damage to the refrigerator, as well.
After the refrigerator is completely defrosted and drained, you can dry it out completely and make sure there isn't any water left. At that point, it's ready for cleaning. You want to clean it thoroughly, to make sure there aren't any food particles left behind. If there's any food left in it, that could result in mold, bugs, and other issues. Pay close attention to the door seals, since that's a common place for food particles to end up, and they can often go unnoticed.
Clean all the trays and drawers, and the outside of the unit, too. If there are coils on the back, they should be dusted or vacuumed in order to make sure there's as little risk of bacteria or other germs as possible. If there are any hidden compartments or components, pay special attention to getting them as clean as you can. If you're working with any area where there are electrical parts or similar items, make sure the refrigerator is unplugged.
If you unplug your refrigerator it will defrost naturally. But that can take some time, and you might want to speed up the process. You can make the defrosting time shorter by putting bowls of boiling water onto the shelves. You can also remove pieces of ice from the sides and shelves in the freezer, but only if they come away easily. You don't want to pick and scrape at the insides of the freezer or fridge, because doing that can damage it and keep it from working correctly in the future.
If you don't want to add hot water or scrape ice, that's absolutely fine. Just know that the natural defrosting process will take longer. You can place towels or other cloth in the fridge to soak up any water that accumulates from defrosting. If you have a refrigerator with an ice maker, be sure to dump out the ice cubes before you get started. Not only will leaving them in the freezer mean it takes longer to defrost, but they'll create a lot of water that can make big puddles and be harder to soak up.
After the defrosting is all done, and you're ready to start on the cleaning, you want to take all the shelves and drawers out of the fridge. It's easier to clean them when they're not inside the refrigerator, and it's also easier to clean the inside of the refrigerator with the shelves and drawers removed. You can use warm water and liquid soap for the drawers and shelves, as well as for the insides of the fridge. Use a soft cloth or sponge, and avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbing pads that could damage components.
To prepare your fridge for transport, remove the electrical cord or tape it to the unit. All the drawers and shelves should be removed, too, and transported separately. You don't want anything moving around in the refrigerator while it's traveling from one place to another. Close the doors, and wrap a moving blanket or other protective piece of fabric around it, and tape it down securely. Then you can use a dolly to move the fridge from its current location to the storage unit, where it can sit until you need it again.
When you put the refrigerator in the storage unit, don't leave it taped up and sealed shut. It will accumulate odors if you do that. Instead, you'll want to leave the doors partway or all the way open, and prop them with something to make sure they don't close on their own. You can also place dryer sheets or fresh-ground coffee beans in the fridge and freezer, to help keep odors away.
You need to be sure you're choosing the right self-storage unit for your refrigerator-storing needs. Ideally, it's a unit that's big enough to leave the refrigerator's doors open, and that's climate-controlled. That way you don't have to worry about extreme temperature and humidity differences, both of which can be hard on a refrigerator. The longer it needs to stay in storage, the more careful you want to be about the unit you're choosing, to make sure your fridge works well when you plan to use it again.
If you have a refrigerator that doesn't work anymore, you need to dispose of it safely. There are specific procedures for doing that. The EPA has guidelines you can follow, which make it easier for you to recycle an old fridge the right way. A lot of scrap metal recyclers will take fridges, and there may be other organizations that can help. Your options may be different, depending on the community you live in.
The basics of fridge storage are important, and when you follow simple steps like defrosting and cleaning your fridge correctly, you'll have a much better chance of keeping that fridge clean and in good working order for the next time you need it. If you plan to dispose of a non-working fridge, make sure you follow EPA guidelines to do that, as well. You'll be helping protect the planet that way.
By Jerilyn Alvarez
Just a Georgia Peach looking to learn how business works one job at a time and trying to make a difference to others each day! Enjoy writing about everyday experiences and connecting with others. #Marketing #Blogging #CustomerRelationships #VolunteerService is what I am about. Pursuing a degree in Business Management specializing in Customer Relations Management. As a Marketing Assistant, Jerilyn manages all social media accounts for EZstorit, outreach for SEO and contributes to blog articles.