Fridge Not Working After A Move? Here’s How To Revive It

Two men moving a refrigerator

Did you just get a new refrigerator delivered to your house?  Maybe you recently moved and decided you wanted to bring your current fridge with you?

And in either case, is it not working now?

This isn’t an uncommon problem.  Sometimes, refrigerators don’t work right away after a move.  Which sucks because you normally want to start using them right away.

You have to put those groceries somewhere, right?  It’s not like you can wait to stock the new one with the food you pulled out of the old.  And if you move, well, part of moving in is the initial grocery run.

So what do you do if your fridge just isn’t working? Below you’ll get explanations of why your fridge isn’t working and what you can do to address it.

Let’s get going.

What Position Was It Transported?

What position the fridge was in during transport is important to know to help diagnose what could be the problem. If at all possible, when transporting a refrigerator, it should be done in a vertical position.  This is especially true if it’s being delivered professionally by a moving company or delivered by the store you purchased it at.

When the delivery arrives at your residence, be sure to inspect the position of the fridge in the truck before having it moved into your residence.  Make note of whether it’s vertical or on its side.  Make sure to really observe, if it’s on its back.  Take pictures if you like.  This type of documentation will be important if you have to get a warranty issue settled later.

Transporting a refrigerator in a new house
Document how your refrigerator was moved, it’s important for warranty issues

If it’s upside down, send it back!

It’s Moved In and In the Kitchen. Now What?

The big key to moving a refrigerator is understanding that a lot of stuff is vibrating and moving about during its movement.  This includes compressor oil.

Why is that important?

Well, everything internally is not where it needs to be yet.  It hasn’t settled.

And settling doesn’t mean the shelves and drawers.  This is about oil, gases, and coolants.  These things don’t just come ready to perform as expected right off the bat.  They need time to move back into the correct position for normal operation.

So, it’s recommended that if you want to start using it, you should wait at least four hours before plugging it in.  This should allow enough time for the oil, gases, and coolants to settle where they’re supposed to be.

If it was moved on its side, it might be even better wait up to twenty-four hours.

Why is that more than moving it in the vertical position?

Good question.

The reason for this comes down to the compressor and the oil in it.  If a fridge is moved on its side, it puts more stress on the compressor than if it’s moved in the vertical position. The other consideration is that the compressor oil may actually leak during this kind of movement.

Oh, no, not that type of leak.  You won’t find oil all over the compressor or bottom of the fridge like leaking oil from a car.  Instead, what’s meant by compressor oil leaking is if it’s transported on its side, there is a possibility compressor oil will leak into the coolant lines.

So, before firing up the fridge once it’s in place, it’s important to give it time for that oil to drain from the coolant lines back to the compressor.

Moving a fridge in the vertical position doesn’t risk this kind of leakage like moving it sideways does.  That’s why more time to rest is recommended to settle if shipped sideways.

The Fridge Was Moved and Plugged in Right Away and Won’t Cool

So, you plugged it in without letting it settle and now it won’t cool.

Does it have power?

Let’s assume it does, since you’re saying it won’t cool.  If it was a recent move, you may be able to right the ship by unplugging it and leaving it set for 24-48 hours.  Hopefully, that’s all it took to fix.

However, as mentioned above, if it was transported and won’t start after plugging it in right away, unplugging it and letting it settle for 24-48 hours, and doing another operational test, you probably need to get the compressor inspected.  Unfortunately, this sometimes requires a repair or total replacement.  You should contact a technician for diagnostics and recommendations.

The refrigerator could have also set itself into demo or vacation mode – you should be able to check this via the display or in the owner’s manual.

The Fridge Was Moved and Was Allowed to Settle But Still Will Not Start

This could be related to several electrical things.

First, does it have power?  Check the outlet it’s plugged into and ensure there is actual power at the source.  It’s weird to note, but sometimes outlets go bad.  It could be faulty wiring, a ground, or just an old outlet that can’t handle the load of a refrigerator.

It can also be a more complex electrical issue.  Is the breaker on?  Really make sure it’s pushed well over to on.  Sometimes older breakers can get “sticky”.  You think they are on but they’re just not pushed over enough.  Also, does the break have power?

Okay, the breaker looks good and has power.  Now, is there power at the outlet?  If yes and the outlet still isn’t doing anything, replace the outlet.

You’ve replaced the outlet.  Does it have power?

It does?  Good, now plug in the fridge.

The Fridge Has Power But Will Not Cool

This is a hard spot.  You probably now officially have a compressor issue.  And because there is likely a compressor issue, you will have to call a technician in to check it out.

A technician checking the refrigerator compressor
Call a professional technician to check your refrigerator’s compressor

Now, it might not be a completely damaged compressor.  There could be some electrical issues in the refrigerator itself that need to be diagnosed.  However, it’ll take some troubleshooting by a professional to determine the cause.

This is why it’s important to also take note of how the refrigerator was shipped.  If you moved it yourself, it’s going to be hard to do anything other than get some outside help.  However, if it was shipped by professionals, there could be a chance you can prove it may have been damaged in transit, especially if it was moved on its side.

One more thing about how it was moved on its back, however long it settled may have no bearing on what the issue is you’re dealing with.  Moving a fridge on its back is highly objected to, not just because of all of the other things already mentioned as far as allowing time to settle, etc.  Moving a fridge on its back puts almost all of the weight of the fridge gravitationally, pushing down on all of the components vital to the operation of the refrigerator.

What this basically means is moving it on its back can put a ton of stress on your fridge so that it might have already been damaged by moving it in this fashion.  It wouldn’t have mattered how long you let it settle.


Alas, there isn’t always a ton of simple fixes when it comes to dealing with appliances.  In the case of moving refrigerators, the simplest fix is really in the preparation for moving them.  Also, if someone moves it for you, document how it’s moved.  Lastly, if it is a new refrigerator, too much troubleshooting on your own could void your warranty.  In that case, be cautious of how much you tear into things trying to fix the fridge before getting help involved.

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more