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Heat Pump | Can It Be Transported Laying Down?

Thinking of bringing in a new heat pump for your home? Or are you moving and want to take your heat pump with you? Whatever the reason, you’re looking to transport your heat pump safely.

These appliances can be pretty ungainly, and, unfortunately, they can also be damaged if transported incorrectly. Laying heat pumps on their sides is not the best idea, although there may be some exceptions to this. We’ll investigate what could go wrong and some tips to avoid this!

Typically, professionals advise against transporting heat pumps on their side as this can damage the compressor mounting or cause oil to leak onto other components. A 45-degree tilt is likely to be acceptable for shorter distances.

Avoid Transporting Heat Pumps on Their Sides

The consensus seems to be to avoid transporting your heat pump on its side.

According to this forum, HVAC professionals tend to agree that transporting these units on their sides can cause damage to the compressor mounting, which compromises the whole heat pump.

On the other hand, according to the instruction manual for a Kwikot heat pump, you can carry it on its side. They do add in the caveat that it mustn’t be tilted more the 45 degrees onto its side, but still, it indicates that not all heat pumps have to follow the same rules.

If you are trying to fit your heat pump into your car, that 45-degree tilt may make all the difference. But remember, you can only do this temporarily. The 45-degree tilt is not your solution to fitting the heat pump into your crawl space!

Main Problems With Laying Heat Pumps on Their Sides: Damage to Compressor/Mounting and Compressor Oil Leakage

Main Problems With Laying Heat Pumps on Their Sides

Damage to Compressor/Mounting

The compressor consists of a motor encased in metallic housing. The motor itself does not lean or touch the inner part of the housing as it is suspended within it. The motor is “secured” to the housing through three internal mounting springs keeping it centralized.

One spring is located between the top of the motor and the top of the inside of the housing. The other two springs are located at the bottom of the motor, one on each side. These slot over suspension points at the base of the shell.

If you lay the pump on its side, it could cause the internal mounting springs to break, which could, in turn, cause the motor to become misaligned. Ultimately, this may have a domino effect on other compressor components.

If the motor is not centralized, the motor components like the discharge tube could undergo severe vibrations that could cause it eventually to break off. The high pressure and the heated vapor will not be able to leave the compressor and enter the rest of the system.

Warning: the video below is quite loud in parts as it features a running heat pump.

Compressor Oil Leakage

Compressors contain oil for lubrication for all the moving parts within their motors. If the compressor is lying on its side, the oil and possibly the refrigerant may pool to the top and sides of the housing and leak through all the tube connections on it.

If the oil leaks, it may land up on different components of the heat pump. From here, it may remain for long periods of time before it starts to dry or become a slight sludge, and it would hinder maximum component operation.

If oil lands on cooling circuits like your condenser and evaporator coils, it can prevent them from absorbing or dispersing heat.

Oil is also a flammable product; thus, it is not only hindering the efficiency of the heat pump, but is also dangerous.

Transporting Heat Pumps on Their Sides Is Possible

Although it’s not advisable to transport the appliance on its side, there are a few exceptions and conditions to adhere to if you are in dire straits.

The reason why I say this is because there are heat pump water heaters that have manufacturer permission to lay them on their backs for transport.

While these two appliances are different, the principle of heat pumps is the same, so there is “precedent” as it were.

If you don’t take caution throughout transportation, you could risk damaging an expensive appliance.

Tips to Transporting a Heat Pump as Safe as Possible

Tips to Make It as Safe as Possible

  • Not resting fully on its side (resting at an angle). Either through carrying it from one place to another at a 45-degree angle or on a vehicle. Try to keep it elevated at the angle by placing something sturdy beneath the heat pump on which it can rest.
  • Stick to short distances. If it is a long journey, then it’s best to adjust to an upright position instead.
  • Limit jostling of the heat pump by strapping it down with Seamander Ratchet Tie Down Straps (2″*25ft) (amazon link) and choosing good quality roads with no obstacles. You can also carefully place blankets around your compressor and on the outside of your heat pump to absorb impact.

Seamander Ratchet Tie Down Straps Guaranteed Max Break Strength 10000lbs Best for Moving, Securing Cargo (2"*25ft)

There Are Professionals Who Offer Transport

Heat pumps are complicated devices. As such, HVAC contractors and the like often offer heat pump relocation services.

However, you do need to take into consideration the cost involved in said relocation services. Some jobs can cost more than $1000. Yet, looking at the complexity of the appliance, it may all be worth it in the long run.


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