American-style fridge freezers are modern, spacious and sleek. If you’re considering getting one and want to save costs on installation by installing it yourself, or you just want to ensure things go smoothly, here are some things you need to know and consider.
How Much Space Does an American Fridge Freezer Need?
There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this. American fridge freezers come in the same shape but different sizes. As more and more people choose not to go for a ‘stand-alone’ fridge set up, it is important to know the dimensions of your fridge freezer before you install it.
If you haven’t decided on a fridge freezer yet but still want a ballpark estimate of what you’re going to be working with, American fridge freezers tend to be around 90cm wide and 70-80cm deep.
Having kitchen cabinets, drawers and storage space built around a fridge freezer is a popular setup. If you are redesigning your kitchen around your fridge freezer, you need to allow for some ventilation. 5cm at the back and 3cm around the sides and top is a good guideline to follow.
Be warned, if you’re building your kitchen around the fridge and it breaks or you want a different one, it might be a good idea to leave a bit more room in case you decide to wheel a bigger fridge in there later down the line. This might look messy but you can get around this by ensuring the wood or material around the fridge can be trimmed back (if possible) without conflicting with drawers or cabinets.
When it comes to installation, there’s a few more things to bear in mind. First, the doors on an American fridge freezer tend to open wide, but this varies from brand to brand. If you’re building around the fridge freezer, the doors will need to protrude from the cabinetry and will need a certain amount of space to open fully.
Before you plug it in and get it up and running, it is advised to let it rest for a while to allow the cooling gases to settle. Sometimes the doors of the fridge will have to be removed to get it into a room. If you think you might be a bit tight for space, check that the model you’re purchasing has removable doors. Pre-plan a path for the fridge freezer to take through your house when it’s being delivered, this will make things easier and quicker for the delivery team.
How to Connect an American Fridge Freezer to Water Supply
If your new American fridge freezer has a water and ice dispenser that is plumbed in, you will need to connect your fridge to your water supply. You will need to find a cold-water source to do this. To connect your fridge freezer to the water supply, you will need:
- Refrigerator water line installation kit (usually supplied)
- A wrench
- A screwdriver
- Water line cutter
- A drill
Also, don’t forget drill bits for your drill! Make sure you’ve located the cold water pipe in your kitchen or close to where the fridge freezer is being placed. If you’re having trouble determining which is which, an easy way to tell them apart is to turn your hot water on. Feel the pipes and whichever one is hot, is your hot water pipe. Easy!
Before you start, turn the water supply to your house OFF. As there is drilling into pipes involved, you don’t want to cause a leak or damage to the rest of your home.
- First things first, devise a route for your water pipe from source to refrigerator. Whether this means drilling through cabinets or walls, you need to have a route planned from A to B. Don’t start drilling until you’re sure that the tubing will reach your destination. You don’t want to drill a load of holes and then have to start again. You may find that you have a lot of excess tubing. Don’t throw this away. It’s highly recommended that you have some excess tubing connected. That way, if you ever need to get behind your fridge or move it for whatever reason, you can pull it out without disconnecting it from the water supply.
- Next, you need to assemble the valves that come in the installation kit. There should be a manual within to tell you which part goes where. Essentially, you’ll be dealing with some nuts, bolts and a rubber gasket. You should find that when assembled properly, it will fit around your water pipe and is held together by screws. Make sure this is securely fastened to the pipe. It doesn’t have to go anywhere specific on the pipe, just wherever is easiest for you. Once these are assembled and you are attaching them to the pipe, try and make sure there is even pressure on both sides holding it together. You’re trying to compress the rubber gasket against the pipe securely.
- You will see on the saddle valve that comes with the kit that it almost replicates a tap. You want to twist this until it pierces and makes a hole in the copper piping. Don’t overdo it, but do make sure it is definitely pierced. Attach your compression bolts (normally consisting of a nut, a washer and a sleeve) to the valve. Make sure these are fastened to the valve securely and tightly (you’ll see where the tubing attaches to the valve).
- There should be a water line attached to the back of your fridge freezer. It may just be a fitting but the tubing from the installation kit should attach to the back of the fridge in the same way it attached to the valve. Check it for leaks, remember to check you’ve got extra tubing, and you should be good to go!
There are a few other things to consider when installing an American fridge freezer. If you are placing it in a new build, get your plumber to install a valve behind where the fridge is going to live. This way, all you need is some flexible metal tubing and it will simply hook on.
If you have some copper lining already installed in your kitchen, do not worry! Copper lining will still fit all the parts that can be bought in an installation kit.
How to Level an American Fridge Freezer
American fridge freezers are a bit cumbersome and unwieldy, so you don’t want to go to the effort of installing it to find that it isn’t level! Do yourself and your fridge a favour and straighten things out by following our guide.
First thing to note is that if the doors aren’t level with each other when you buy the fridge, they’re supposed to look like that when the fridge is empty. Load your fridge first and if they still look uneven, it’ll need levelling.
Another good thing to do is to check the manual that comes with the product or look for it online. Your manufacturer should provide all the details you need for your specific model, but there is a basic principle to levelling a fridge freezer.
To level your fridge freezer you will need:
- A Phillips head screwdriver
- A flat head screwdriver
- A spirit level or any levelling tool
- A wrench
Before you get to work levelling your fridge freezer, note that the doors may be uneven for one of two reasons: either the refrigerator cabinet is uneven, or the doors themselves are uneven. It’s advisable to turn off your fridge before doing this to avoid any chance of shocking yourself. As you may need to work with the doors open as well, you might want to check that nothing heavy can fall out and injure you.
Follow these steps to level your fridge freezer:
- Using your spirit level, determine how uneven your fridge freezer is and in what way you will have to adjust it to correct it. Don’t measure the level on the refrigerator door as these aren’t always square to the refrigerator. Instead, place the spirit level on top of the main chamber of the fridge freezer.
- Take your Phillips head screwdriver and remove the grill at the base of the refrigerator. The base plate can take on different forms, but you will have to remove it to reach the levelling screws and pins at the bottom corners of your refrigerator. Not every fridge has these, so you only need to remove your base plate if necessary.
- Look for a set of levelling screws. They will often be cased in plastic, and will look like large, upside-down bottle caps. These levelling screws on the right and left-hand side adjust the tilt of the refrigerator. If yours feels unstable or the doors won’t close easily, you can adjust them with your flat head screwdriver. Turn the levelling screws clockwise to raise the fridge and vice versa. You should ensure that they are both turned the same amount. You might find that they need to be turned a fair amount to make a difference. Keep turning and testing as you go.
- If you have adjusted the levelling screws and find that they are still uneven, you’ll need to adjust the refrigerator doors themselves. Look to the bottom hinge of the doors and there will be a keeper nut and an adjustment pin. Loosen the keeper nut so you can adjust the pin. Turning the pin to the right will raise the doors and vice versa. Your refrigerator should come with a tool to adjust these, but you can use a wrench if you can’t find yours.
With these nifty step-by-step guides and advice, you should guarantee yourself an easy and stress-free installation. It’s all much easier than it looks!