How To Install a Refrigerator

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Whether you’ve purchased a new refrigerator from a big box store or a dedicated appliance repair shop, you can usually count on the delivery team to install the fridge for you. But what if you’re moving into a new home and want to bring your old refrigerator with you, or you just want to move the appliance to use in the basement or another room in your house? You don’t always need to hire a professional. Installing or reinstalling a refrigerator is not that complicated and the average do-it-yourselfer should be able to accomplish the task with some guidance.

Since refrigerators can differ from model to model, following the owner’s manual or the installation instructions that came with the appliance is always recommended. But if those instructions have been misplaced or discarded over time, here are some general directions and tips you can follow to successfully install the refrigerator yourself with a minimum of fuss.

What you need before installing the refrigerator

  • A grounded electrical outlet should be located directly behind or close to the space where the refrigerator will be installed. The outlet should provide 120 volts of alternating current at 60 hertz, and a dedicated circuit is recommended to avoid tripping the circuit breaker or blowing a fuse if another kitchen appliance is being used when the refrigerator’s compressor is cycling on.
  • If the refrigerator has a water/ice dispenser or an installed icemaker, a cold water supply with water pressure between 30 and 120 pounds per square inch will be required.
  • The space in which the refrigerator will be installed should have good ventilation and have a consistent room temperature above 55° Fahrenheit (13° Celsius) but no higher than 110° Fahrenheit (43° Celsius). In other words, be aware of temperature fluctuations in your garage or basement if installing the fridge in those locations.

You should always allow at least one inch of space behind the refrigerator and a half-inch of space on the top and sides of the fridge cabinet. Anything less will impede air flow and reduce the refrigerator’s efficiency. Also, make sure you’re leaving enough room on the sides so the refrigerator doors can fully open.

Speaking of refrigerator doors, you may find that you’re unable to fit the appliance through your home’s doorways without first removing the fridge doors. Check out this blog article for some general instructions and tips you can follow to remove and reinstall the refrigerator’s doors and drawer fronts.

Keep in mind, that you can often adjust the height of the doors or drawer fronts to keep everything aligned. On some models, you can insert an appropriate-size Allen wrench into a hole on the bottom of the lower right door hinge, then rotate the wrench clockwise to raise the door or counter-clockwise to lower the door. Depending on the model, you may also be able to partially unthread a top bracket glide screw to loosen a drawer front, then raise or lower each side of the drawer front by rotating a lower bracket screw. Be sure to tighten the top bracket glide screw after leveling the drawer front.

Installing a refrigerator water supply line & shut-off valve

If a water supply line and shut-off valve are not already available in the home, you will need to install them. Here’s a quick overview of how you can accomplish this:

  1. With the cold water supply shut off, use a quarter-inch drill bit to drill an access hole through the front of the nearest cold water pipe. File down any rough edges.
  2. If you’re installing a saddle-style shut-off valve, thread the valve into the front pipe bracket and tighten it by hand.
  3. Use a wrench to tighten the valve an additional 1/8th turn to fully secure.
  4. Slide a rubber seal gasket over the shut-off valve’s pilot tube.
  5. Insert the pilot tube into the hole in the water pipe, position the rear pipe bracket, then insert the screws through the two brackets and thread the mounting nuts. Avoid over-tightening the nuts.
  6. Using flexible Type L copper tubing, confirm both ends of the tubing are cut evenly and cleanly, then slide on a compression nut and compression sleeve over one end.
  7. Fully insert the end of the copper tubing with the compression nut and sleeve into the outlet connecter on the shut-off valve, then thread the nut onto the outlet connecter and hand-tighten it. Use a wrench to tighten the nut one additional turn.
  8. With the cold water supply turned on, rotate the “T” handle on the shut-off valve counter-clockwise to fully open to flush out the copper tubing. After a few seconds, shut off the valve and clear the tubing of water.
  9. If applicable, slide a strain relief clamp over the end of the tubing along with another compression nut and sleeve.

You’re now ready to connect the water supply tubing to the refrigerator.

Installing the refrigerator

  • Move the refrigerator close to its designated location. If available on your model, you may need to raise the brake feet in order to roll the refrigerator. You can do this by removing the base grille, then use an appropriate-size wrench to rotate the brake feet counter-clockwise to raise them.
  • If necessary, remove the protective cap from the inlet fitting on the refrigerator’s water inlet valve.
  • Fully insert the water supply tubing into the water inlet connecter. Thread and hand-tighten the compression nut then use a wrench to tighten the nut one additional turn.
  • Open the shut-off valve again and check the connections for leakage. If any leaks appear, you can tighten the compression nut in small increments until the leakage stops.
  • If applicable, align that copper tubing strain relief clamp and secure it with the appropriate rear access panel screw.
  • The excess copper tubing should be looped, allowing it to easily fold and unfold so the refrigerator can be moved without straining the connections.
  • If necessary, install the door or drawer handles. To do this, you will often align the handles on mounting studs then use an appropriate-size Allen wrench or a provided hex key to rotate the set screws within the handle clockwise until they come into contact with the studs. Be sure the side of the handle with the set screw holes is facing inward (or downward if installing a freezer or refrigerator drawer handle). For other models, you may need to thread regular screws to secure the handles and then snap on a screw cover.
  • You can now plug the refrigerator’s power cord into the wall outlet.
  • Push the refrigerator into its final location, remembering to allow at least one inch of space between the wall and the appliance’s rear panel.
  • If applicable, lower the brake feet to hold the fridge in position by rotating them clockwise until both feet are in contact with the floor. Note that to slightly tilt the appliance back you can extend both brake feet evenly. This will prevent the doors from popping open and make closing them easier.
  • Replace the base grille or kickplate and the refrigerator should be ready for use.

Additional refrigerator care tips

Here are three tips you can follow to improve your refrigerator’s performance:

  1. Periodically, use hot soapy water to wipe down the door gaskets as well as the areas where those gaskets come into contact with the frame. This will help improve the seal to keep cool air from escaping the refrigerator and freezer compartments and warm air entering.
  2. Once a year, remove the base grille or kickplate along with the lower rear access panel, then use a condenser coil brush and a vacuum extension to clean the coils, cooling fan, and surrounding area. Just be sure to unplug the power cord before removing any panels. Annual cleaning will help ensure the refrigerator is running as efficiently as possible.
  3. Consider using baking soda or a product like FreshFlow™ Produce Preserver to help remove stubborn odors from inside your refrigerator or extend the freshness of your fruits and vegetables.

Find the right refrigerator parts & accessories at Repair Clinic

Need a refrigerator water line installation kit or replacement door handles, handle mounting studs, brake feet, or a new water inlet valve to complete your refrigerator installation? Repair stocks all of these parts and more. To find the right part or accessory that matches your refrigerator, enter the full model number of the appliance in the Repair Clinic website search bar. The left-side navigation filters will allow you to refine your search to identify the specific part you’re looking for, genuine OEM parts direct from manufacturers like Samsung, Frigidaire, KitchenAid, GE, Kenmore, LG, Maytag, and Whirlpool. With Repair Clinic as your repair partner, you’ll have that fridge installed or that defective part replaced in no time.

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