Can You Put a Refrigerator in Front of a Baseboard Heater? (Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t)

When planning your home, the kitchen area becomes the most important part of the entire house.

The kitchen equipment and appliances arrangement should be thought out carefully to

  • decrease the possibility of  accidents
  • ease movements
  • and the smooth running of the appliances.

This can be especially important for homeowners with small kitchens.

For example, the standard refrigerator comes with considerably large dimensions.

So, if your kitchen is small, you will need to carefully make your arrangement decisions by focusing on

  • safety
  • ease of use
  • the smooth running of other appliances near it.

One of the things you need to get right is the fridge’s distance from heating devices, electrical outlets, and similar essential establishments.

So, Can You Put A Refrigerator In Front Of A Baseboard Heater?

No, unless it’s essential. The fridge is designed to generate cold, while the baseboard heater is meant to heat the room from the floor level. As you can tell, these two equipment pieces should never be installed too close to each other.

Three Major Reasons Why You Should NEVER Position The Refrigerator In Front Of A Baseboard Heater

It is no brainer that hot and cold are two incompatible factors.

If you install your refrigerator very close to your baseboard heater, much of the heat dissipated by the heater will end up on the fridge.

There are three dangers to that:

1. Refrigerator Physical Damage Could Happen

  • Firstly, the effects of the heat from the heater may take a toll on the outer walls of your fridge.
  • If you like running your heater on significantly high temperatures, the refrigerator walls will certainly be ruined by the heat.
  • Because most fridges shipped nowadays are from composite materials or plastic, you are likely to end with a discolored unit depending on the period it stays close to the heater.

2. An Increased Refrigerator Power Needs Risk

There’s a risk that the power needs of your fridge will increase significantly.

Some of the heat dissipated by the heater may end up in the main compartment and walls.

The heat that ends up in walls is the most dreadful of everything else because it tends to warm the pipes that carry the refrigerant (whether Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) or Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)) which is supposed to keep the compartment cold.

In this case, your fridge may begin to demand more energy to keep the refrigerant as well as the rest of the compartment at low temperatures.

3. Refrigerator Overheating Risk

The heater’s proximity to the fridge may cause warm air to be trapped between the two appliances.

Since this air pocket is warm most of the time and just a tiny part of it actually escapes to the rest of the room, the heater may overheat with time.

This can create two problems:

  • First, the rest of your room may not get the heat it deserves, meaning you might end up paying out a lot of money for the heat you didn’t even use.
  • Secondly, overheating in the heater may shorten the lifespan of the unit and even cause it to be inefficient. This could mean frequent breakdowns and bloated energy bills.

For these reasons, most manufacturers of these household equipment don’t recommend installing them close to each other.

Related: Can A Bed Be Positioned In Front Of A Baseboard Heater?

Three Things To Keep In Mind, If There’s No Other Choice

There are a few situations when it would be either very necessary or perfectly okay to install your fridge close to the baseboard heater:

1. Yes, Bring The Fridge Close to The Heater but Don’t Suffocate It.

By not suffocating the heater, we mean not blocking it, i.e., allowing the dissipated heated to escape to the rest of the room inhibited.

This means the closest you should bring the fridge close to the heater is on the sides, not directly in front of the vents.

If your kitchen is too small to even permit it, consider moving one of these two pieces of equipment elsewhere.

For example, you can decide to move the fridge to the pantry area or even in your dining room if you find your heater to be more integral to warming your kitchen.

2. Even so, insulate it.

Even though it would be relatively safe to bring the fridge close to the sides of the heater, you still need to cover that part of the fridge with an insulating material, say, a few layers of cardboard, so that the heat does not cause discoloration or a malfunction.

3. Mind the gap

You, of course, need to measure the space intended for the fridge before buying just so you can choose the product with the right size.

This can help you avoid trying to cram it where it won’t fit, such as in spaces meant to provide clearance for your baseboard heater.

It doesn’t hurt to measure and double-check the area.

Proceed to compare the measurements you obtained with the actual dimensions of the refrigerator.

Also, consider the air gap recommended by the manufacturer.

You will find the directions and recommendations in the manual that will accompany your refrigerator.

The clearance gap allows air to circulate around the unit and carrying move the heat away from the walls of the fridge.

The size of the gap may vary from one model to another.

Ten Ways To Get the Best Out of Your Fridge and Baseboard Heater

You need to maintain your appliances properly to get the most out of them.

Whether they are installed in a cramped space or not, here is how to manage your fridge and baseboard heater so that you increase the service life for both.

  1. If your heater is coolant/fluid typed, keep the coolant filled to the recommended level at all times. It is typically recommended that you administer the coolant with about 50/50 water mix. You can choose to buy the already watered-down option from your local supply store.
  2.  Remember to keep the cap of the heater tight; it is designed to prevent the coolant from spewing out as well as keeping the coolant chamber pressurized.
  3. Take some time, about twice a year, to wipe the dust and debris off the baseboard heater. It could go a long way to keep it efficient and even add a few years to its lifetime.
  4. Remove stains and rubs on your fried by rubbing them off with non-abrasive or mild solvent or toothpaste. If it involves grease spills, you can easily clean them off with a clean solution of water and lemon juice and water.
  5. Prevent those unpleasant odors from accumulating in your fridge by adding an open package of regular baking soda in the storage compartment.
  6. Defrosting your refrigerator once several weeks or monthly will not only prevent the accumulation of ice, but it will also help get rid of bacteria colonies that may build up, especially from the storage of open cans of sugary food.
  7. Store your cut foods in a closed plastic container so they won’t ruin the fridge’s storage compartment with their odors and even pass it to other types of foods.
  8. Don’t use abrasive scrubs or harsh chemicals to wash any part of your fridge. Instead, use a soft spongy material and 2 cups of water mixed with about 2 tablespoons of vinegar or baking soda – this is an easy-to-make yet friendly detergent for any surface.
  9. Shut off the power supply to the baseboard heater after prolonged use and allow the heating coils to cool completely before switching it on again.
  10. Do not lubricate the motors, timers, or any moving parts of the equipment without adhering to the directions provided by the manual. Most fridges, for example, come with permanently self-lubricated moving parts. In very cold conditions, the oil will become highly viscous and even increase friction instead of decreasing it. If you realize that the motor or fan is starting to get sticky, consider replacing it.

In A Nutshell

So, can you put a refrigerator in front of a baseboard heater?

In one word – “No.”

The heat dissipated by the heater may ruin the walls of the fridge, especially if you prefer running the heater at significantly high temperatures.

Fridges are mostly made from composite materials and plastic, so you are likely to end with a discolored unit depending on the period it stays close to the heater.

Also, there’s a risk that the power needs of your fridge may increase significantly.

Some of the heat dissipated by the heater may end up in the main compartment and walls.

The heat that ends up in walls is the most dreadful of everything else because it warms the pipes that carry the refrigerant – this makes the fridge demand more energy than before to cool your food.

You may bring the fridge close to the heater in some extreme cases, say, your kitchen is cramped, and you have nowhere else to install the fried.

In such a case, you will need to install it close to the sides of the heater, not directly in front of the vents.

Also, you will need to cushion the fridge with some insulating material to prevent the heat from affecting its smooth operations.

Baseboard heaters get dirty or clogged with dust, dirt, debris, hair, and pet dander.

You will need to clean them several times a year to keep them clean and working efficiently.

The same applies to fridges – take some time to wipe the ice and odors from the compartment to keep your food clean and cold. Also, wipe the outside of the unit with a clean cloth soaked in a mild solvent or solution.