Does Unplugging The Refrigerator Damage It?

The good news is that a majority of home appliances can be unplugged easily without any issues.

However, when it comes to refrigerators and air conditioners, things can be a little different.

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Why Would You Need To Unplug Your Fridge?

First, unplugging your refrigerator simply because you want to save electrical costs is somehow unnecessary.

The reason being – it won’t save you that much. In fact, you may end up paying more rather than saving.

Here’s why: when you unplug your refrigerator, its cooling gas is not circulated, and therefore, all the items in the unit will begin to warm up (especially if it is full of foodstuffs).

The moment you plug it back in, the refrigeration unit will begin to work extra hard to cool everything back down, which is a process that demands more power.

For this reason, it is recommended to leave your unit running at all times.

Remember, due to technological advancements, today refrigerators come with sensors that help limit power consumption by maintaining a constant needed temperature.

Furthermore, it will shut itself off when cooling is not needed.

The Only Time You Should Unplug Your Refrigerator

What if you are going for a long holiday or vacation? Well, under this circumstance, unplugging your refrigeration unit can be the wisest thing to do.

This prevents unmonitored refrigeration damages. As a matter of fact, it is recommended to leave all electrical appliances unplugged when going for a long vacation.

3 Types Of Fridge Damage

There are three refrigeration damage types:


This type of damage is more cosmetic and often does not affect its function or delivery.


This type of refrigerator damage does affect the performance of the unit. This type of damage often affects the compressor.


This type of damage generally involves the electrical side of the unit. When a unit has an electrical problem, it will affect the mechanical side.

Can A Refrigerator Be Damaged When Unplugged?

The truth is that unplugging a refrigerator won’t damage it. Just like any other household appliance such as TV, freezer, dryer, toaster, microwave, and others won’t get damaged when unplugged.

The problem or damage arises when plugging and unplugging is done in quick succession.

What does this mean? Well, if you plug, unplug, and then plug your unit in quick succession, you will end up destroying your unit. Here is why:

How Does Your Fridge Work?

When the refrigeration unit is running, the cooling gas (Freon) is being circulated through the system by a mechanical unit known as the compressor.

Therefore, when it is unplugged, or there is a loss of power, the compressor will stop working, and the pressure will begin to go down, and the gas will settle within the compressor.

If you plug it again immediately before the compressor’s pressure stabilizes, it will work harder because everything, including the tubes, is still pressurized.

As a result, it will lead to motor overload. If the refrigeration overload protection circuit, relay, or sensor fails, it will cause the compressor motor to burn.

This is what happens when the power flickers, maybe due to a lightning storm that has hit the power lines. When such occurs, it can damage other appliances like TV, Computer, Phone, etc.

What Is The Safest Way To Unplug And Plug A Refrigerator?

Let us assume that you want to clean your refrigeration unit. As you probably know, for you to clean your fridge, you must first unplug it.

This is a safety measure that will protect you against electrocution and other related injuries.

After finishing cleaning and drying it very well, it is wise to wait for about 15 minutes to allow the pressure in the compressor to stabilize.

Remember, there is no harm in leaving your refrigerator unplugged for even longer. Doing this will protect your unit against expensive repairs or a reduced lifespan.

How To Prepare To Unplug A Fridge

Let us assume that you are preparing to go for a long vacation (3 weeks and above) vacation, and you want to leave your fringe unplugged.

Under this situation, there is a recommended step to follow.

These steps will not only guarantee the longevity of your unit, but also protect it against bacteria, mold, and order. The steps include:

1) Unplug The Fridge

The first step is to unplug the unit. Remember, unplugging is not the same as switching off the socket.

In other words, ensure it is not connected to any electrical outlet.

If your fridge has additional features such as a dispenser and ice maker, ensure you have cut the supply before unplugging.

2) Remove All Food

Then completely remove everything (all foodstuffs and items) in the unit and then wait until the coolness of the unit has reduced to normal room temperature.

3) Cleaning

As you know, it is not wise to leave the fridge like that without cleaning, especially if you are going for a long while.

That is because bacteria and mold will thrive within the unit, which will increase the odor.

Therefore, to prevent this, it is wise to clean the interior properly to remove moisture and odor. Remember, clean everything, including the drawers and shelves within your unit.

Do not forget to clean the freezer and door gasket.

4) Dry Using Cloth

After cleaning every part, ensure it is dry. You can use paper towels or a dry cloth to dry everything.

Remember, wet surfaces in the fridge can cause bad odor to form.

You can also use moisture absorbers like silica gel, grounded coffee, baking soda, charcoal briquettes, and others.

5) Let It Breathe

Before leaving, ensure the doors are a little bit opened in such a way there is space for air to pass.

You can achieve this by putting a towel between the door and the fridge body. You can also pull out a drawer to hold the door.

If you have rodents in your home, it is wise to take the necessary precautions to prevent them from entering the fridge.


It is safe to unplug your refrigerator, but it is not recommended to do it on a frequent basis due to the time it takes for the gases to settle and cool again.

If you are unplugging it to move to another location, be sure to know how heavy it is before you try and lift it. Some fridges can weigh 400 pounds.

Maire Shield

Maire Shield worked for 15 years as an interior design consultant in Albuquerque and is now retired after selling her business. She now shares her experience and knowledge through blogging to help other people create a beautiful home for themselves.

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