Appliance Installation Tips & Tricks


Paying someone to install an appliance can put your mind at ease knowing the job will be done right.

But it can also be quite expensive, leading some people to attempt installing an appliance themselves in order to save money. But is this something you might be comfortable doing?

Installing appliances takes a certain amount of know-how, but most people are capable of tackling the task if they take the time to familiarize themselves with the process.

Here are some things to know before you decide to install an appliance on your own.

Make sure there’s enough room!

Before you buy and install an appliance, make sure it fits first. You may need to enlarge space around the countertop or cabinet if you buy a larger appliance.

“Measure, measure, measure,” one of our plumbers, Russell says. “Newer refrigerators and dishwashers are physically larger than the older models they replaced. On a dishwasher, sometimes the difference between the new models and the old models can be three full inches in height.” A dishwasher, for example, needs to be the same height, depth and width to fit in the exact same spot the old one did.

Russell adds it’s also important to measure kitchen entryways to make sure a modern model can fit. If you buy a smaller version, meanwhile, you may need to close some of the space around the appliance.

“In some cases, the doors of the refrigerator may be removed to help with movement,” Russell says. “Beyond all this, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Make sure you know how to properly hook up and test water and gas connections so you don’t cause a disaster in your home.”

Door swing clearance

Not only does there need to be enough room for the appliance, you need to be able to comfortably open them as well.

Daganaar says refrigerators should open to at least a 135-degree angle.

“Ninety degrees isn’t enough to even open a crisper drawer or change the water filter on many models,” Daganaar says. “Ideally, don’t put the refrigerator up against a wall. If it must be against a wall, consider reversing the door swing or considering another style of refrigerator to minimize the impact.”

Check the wattage

To avoid overloading a circuit, check the wattage rating on the new appliance. However, appliance technicians say many of the newer appliances actually use less power because they’re more energy efficient.

Most of your basic kitchen appliances – such as dishwashers and refrigerators – will not need a new circuit. If you do need to add a new circuit – but your service can handle the extra wattage – you can add a subpanel for additional circuits.

“They want to, at the minimum, turn off the breaker and make sure the polarity is correct,” says George Gill, owner of Mr. Appliance of Midtown in Phoenix.

Shut off the water or gas valve

Before installing appliances, turn off any water or gas valves that lead directly to the appliance, and turn them back on when you’re finished.

Gill says it’s important to properly hook up and test your gas appliances. After a gas dryer or oven is connected, Gill recommends conducting a bubble test. This involves applying dish soap to the connections and joints. If it bubbles around those areas, there’s a leak.

Gather the necessary accessories

Take note of what’s included with the new appliance, and what you may need to purchase separately. You might need new plugs (three-pronged vs. four-pronged), pipe, vents or drainage paraphernalia to complete the installation.

“Do the existing appliances already have a cord?” Gill says. “If they do, you can take the cord off. If the hoses are over five years old on a washing machine, it’s a good idea to replace them every five years.”

Gill adds that you may want to buy new connections for the other appliances, too, if they’re old.

Make sure that your appliances are completely level

It’s important to make sure all of the appliances are level. A washing machines can leak if it’s not level.

Also, check that an anti-tip device is installed on the oven, so it can’t tip over and injure someone. 

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