Is It Harmful to Put Items on Top of a Refrigerator?

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Using the empty space above the refrigerator isn’t always a good idea.
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The stray cookbook or spray of plastic potted plants on top of the refrigerator may look nice, but is it a good idea? The large flat surface above the refrigerator just begs to be filled with decor or space-saving baskets, boxes and other items that need to find a space to fit in a small kitchen.

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Using that empty space above the hulking appliance isn't always a good idea. It can cause a safety issue. Depending on what you want to store or showcase above the refrigerator, it can be an ideal space-saving place or a potential fire hazard.

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Placing items on top of your refrigerator can be both a good idea and a bad idea. Unsecured items can fall and break, can possibly injure someone and can become fire hazards behind the unit.

Storage Above the Fridge

Using the space above the refrigerator, particularly in small kitchens, is a space saver and simply inevitable. When space is in short supply, it can seem like the perfect spot to store collapsed paper bags, a basket of branded plastic bags to return for recycling or other flammable and convenient waste product that is generated from all those trips to the grocery store.

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If you want to place items above the refrigerator, then put a heat-resistant and rubberized mat between the items and the appliance. This will keep the items from moving around when the appliance is continually opened throughout the day and night.

Make Sure They're Secure

When storing heavy, delicate or other types of items above the refrigerator, be aware that they may not stay where they were originally placed. Each time the door of the hulking appliance is opened, it vibrates slightly.

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Items that are placed on top of the refrigerator can inch imperceptibly toward the front or back of the appliance, depending on how it is aligned with the flooring of the kitchen. Heavy items can crash unexpectedly on the heads of those rooting around in a refrigerator for the latest leftovers. Or delicate items can fall to their demise on the kitchen floor after the last hushed close of the fridge door.

Don't Create Hazards

Many refrigerators have warnings against placing items above and on top of the appliance. Always read the manufacturer's instructions before installing shelving or cupboards above a refrigerator or placing large, bulky items on top of the appliance.

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Storage above the fridge can create energy issues. If the amount of stuff that is stored on the top of the refrigerator falls along the sides and down the back of the appliance, this can become a serious fire hazard.

For Fridges Located Elsewhere

If the refrigerator is elsewhere, such as outside or in a warmer room like a sunny living area, then placing items on top of the fridge can be more problematic. A refrigerator that is stored outside of the kitchen can have issues with rainwater, overloaded electrical systems and more.

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For a fridge not in kitchen areas, the space above this hardworking appliance can get heated rather quickly. Put up shelving at least 3 inches above the top of the appliance. This can increase space and reduce the fire hazard that can be caused by flammable materials stored above a fridge.

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Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.

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