An open French Door refrigerator in a kitchen with white cabinets

How to install a refrigerator

Whether upgrading from an old refrigerator or installing a brand new freestanding refrigerator, like a model from Whirlpool brand, you may need help getting started. This article will provide the information you need for successfully installing a refrigerator and connecting it to a water line. For installation and delivery options, visit Whirlpool brand’s care site for more information.

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Installing a refrigerator: Step-by-step instructions

Installing a refrigerator yourself can be done in an afternoon with the help of a friend. If you’ve purchased a new refrigerator, consult your user manual for specific information, and keep in mind that this guide is a general overview of the installation process. If you do not feel confident installing a refrigerator yourself, it may be best to hire a professional. Keep in mind that this installation process requires two people to complete.

What you’ll need for fridge installation

Supplies

  • Water supply installation kit

  • Flat cardboard

  • Hand cart or dolly

  • Packing tape

Tools

  • A level

  • Adjustable wrench or socket wrench

  • Measuring tape

Specific tools and equipment vary by model. Refer to your model’s installation guide to determine what you need on hand.

Connecting water lines icon

Step 1: Disconnect your existing refrigerator

Before installing your refrigerator, prepare the space for your new unit. Cover the floor with cardboard and unplug the current appliance. 

  • Lay a flat piece of cardboard on the floor to help avoid scratches or damage.

  • Turn off the ice maker and water supply.

  • Disconnect the water line.

  • Disconnect the power supply and secure it to the back of the refrigerator using packing tape.

Icon of contents being removed from fridge

Step 2: Empty your existing refrigerator

After disconnecting the current refrigerator, remove its contents before moving it.

  • Empty out both the fridge and the freezer.

  • Remove all shelves and drawers.

  • Tape the refrigerator doors shut, or remove them if needed to move more easily. 

  • With the help of an additional person, use a hand cart or dolly to carefully remove and dispose of the refrigerator.
Icon of fridge with dimensions being measured

Step 3: Measure your new refrigerator and cutout space

Measure the dimensions of your new refrigerator and ensure that it will fit properly into the desired space. Generally, standard freestanding refrigerator sizes range from 24 to 40 inches wide, 62 to 72 inches tall and 29 to 36 inches deep.

  • Allow for a ½ inch of space around each side of the refrigerator and one inch between the back of the refrigerator and the wall to help ensure there is proper ventilation.
  • The refrigerator should be able to rest flat and centered on the floor with the doors able to be opened freely.
Excessive weight hazard warning panel
Icon of a refrigerator

Step 4: Prepare to move your new fridge

Remove all shelves and drawers of the new appliance and tape the doors securely shut or remove them if applicable. With the help of another person, use caution when transporting freestanding fridges and other heavy appliances.

  • Using two people, carefully load the refrigerator upright onto the hand cart or dolly and fasten it securely into place. Do not lay the refrigerator on its side.

  • Ensure there is a clear path into the kitchen and guide the refrigerator to its desired space.
Icon of a french door refrigerator

Step 5: Position your new refrigerator and let sit

Once you reach the desired space, position the refrigerator into the cutout, leaving enough space behind the appliance for you to maneuver around it freely.

If at any point the refrigerator was tipped on its side, allow it to sit upright for a few hours to allow it to settle before connecting its power supply.

 

Icon of a water droplet

Step 6: Find the water line tubing 

If you’re replacing a unit that was previously connected to your home’s water supply line, your new appliance can also be connected to the existing water valve. Your refrigerator's installation guide will specify what parts you will need. If you have a Whirlpool® Refrigerator, you can use your model number to search for the correct guide here.

  • Turn off the main water supply.
  • Locate the ¼ inch copper or PEX water line tubing in the back of the refrigerator.

  • Check that the ends of the tubing are long enough to connect to the water supply valve.

Refer to your installation guide for water pressure requirements. If you have more questions regarding how to connect your refrigerator to a water supply line, consult a professional for assistance.

 

Icon of water droplet connected to valve

Step 7: Connect water line tubing to the water supply valve

Once you’ve located the copper or PEX tubing at the back of your refrigerator, connect it to the water supply valve (shut-off valve) with the compression fittings from your installation kit, if applicable. If an installation kit was not provided, consult your installation guide for necessary parts and specific instructions.

  • Fit the compression sleeve and nut onto the tubing.
  • Secure the tubing onto the shut-off valve using an adjustable wrench. Do not overtighten.
Icon of water being poured out of a pitcher

Step 8: Clear out the water line tubing

After connecting one end of the tubing to the shut-off valve, the other end will be free to connect to the refrigerator’s water supply line once it’s drained. Draining the tubing before connecting it to your refrigerator helps to prevent malfunction.

  • Place the open end of the tubing into a bucket or sink.

  • Turn on the main water supply line to flush out the tubing. 

  • Once the tubing is clear and the water runs clean, turn off the main water supply.

Icon of two water droplets connected to valve in the middle

Step 9: Connect water line tubing

Locate the water line port in the back of the refrigerator and connect it to the free end of the tubing.

  • Fit the compression sleeve and nut onto the tubing, similarly to Step 7. 
  • Secure the tubing onto the refrigerator valve using an adjustable wrench. Do not overtighten.

  • Leave any extra slack of tubing coiled in the back of the appliance to allow it to be moved away from the wall if needed.

  • Turn on the main water supply.

In general, refrigerator water filters should typically be replaced every six months. Learn how to replace your refrigerator water filter to help maintain fresh drinking water and ice in your home.

 

Icon of a plug

Step 10: Plug in the fridge

Once you’ve connected your refrigerator to the main water supply, allow it to sit for 12 to 24 hours before plugging it in.

  • Plug your fridge into its designated electrical socket. 

  • Ensure the water line tubing and electrical cord do not become entangled or pinched.

  • Carefully slide the refrigerator into place.

Icon of a level

Step 11: Level your refrigerator

Ensuring your refrigerator is level is imperative for proper function and aesthetics. Using a level, determine whether or not the unit is stable and adjust the legs of your appliance as needed. If your refrigerator does not come with leveling legs, refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions. 

  • Place a level on top of the refrigerator and measure all sides accordingly. 

  • Remove the base grille, if applicable. 

  • Locate the leveling legs at the bottom of the unit.

  • Adjust the height of the legs by using a wrench. Turn clockwise to shorten the legs and lower your refrigerator. Turn counterclockwise to lengthen the legs and raise your fridge.

Icon of a level placed against the front of a fridge

Step 12: Level your refrigerator doors

An aligned refrigerator door or doors allow for a proper seal to help keep your food fresh. This is especially important for French door or side-by-side models. Adjusting your refrigerator’s door hinges will ensure they are aligned correctly.

  • Loosen the hinges on the misaligned door using a socket wrench.

  • Align the door into place and tighten the hinges accordingly.

Icon of a refrigerator

Step 13: Put shelves and drawers back

Clean the appliances' shelves and doors before placing them back in the unit. Adjust the refrigerator and freezer temperature settings and allow the temperature a few hours to cool down before putting food into the fridge.

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Refrigerator installation FAQs

Can you lay a refrigerator down?

Your refrigerator should be left in an upright position when being moved or stored to prevent damage to its cooling mechanism. If it must be transported on its side, leave it for no more than 8 hours and do not plug it in for at least 24 hours after arriving at its installation location.

Can you plug a fridge in right after moving it?

Allow your refrigerator to sit in place for 12 to 24 hours before plugging it in to allow the refrigerator to settle.

How long does it take to install a fridge? 

Installing a fridge can be accomplished in as little as one afternoon with the help of two people.

Can I install a fridge by myself?

Refrigerators should be installed with the help of no less than two individuals.

How soon can I put food in a new refrigerator?

Newly installed refrigerators may take a few hours to cool down before being put to use. If you are unable to detect a drop in temperature within 24 hours, contact the manufacturer for assistance.

Can I get help with installing a refrigerator?

If you would prefer to have professional help with installing your refrigerator, manufacturers often provide installation services for an additional cost. If you purchased your unit from a home improvement store, they may provide services as well. If you have a Whirlpool® Refrigerator, you can call the Whirlpool customer support line at 1-866-698-2538.

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Discover Whirlpool® Refrigerators

If you’re ready to purchase a new Whirlpool® Refrigerator, you can choose from several durable, efficient and long-lasting options.

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