How to Install a Refrigerator with a Dispenser Unit

The refrigerator is the easiest of all appliances to install. Fridges today often come with popular extras that require more from you in the way of installation. The most popular of these extras is the in-the-door icemaker/water dispenser unit. For this feature, you need to run a water supply line to the back of the fridge. Fortunately, even the greenest of DIYers can handle this easy job.

Turn off the water and then let your sink run to drain what is left in the pipes. Then follow these steps:

  1. Find the cold water supply pipe by following the two pipes that supply water to your kitchen sink.

    They should run parallel and be fairly close together. If the hookup is done correctly, the pipe on the right (as you’re looking at them and as they’re going to the sink) should be the cold.

    If you have a basement, tap into the cold water pipe down there. Doing so gives you easy access to the pipe and from the pipe to the floor area just behind the refrigerator. If your home doesn’t have a basement, tap into the cold water supply line that goes to the faucet.

    Most icemaker kits come with a length of copper tubing and a saddle valve; however, in many areas, a saddle valve doesn’t meet code.

  2. (Optional) If you can’t use a saddle valve, install a compression-fitting connected valve. Simply cut out a short section of copper and install the compression-fitting valve.

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  3. (Optional) If you can use a saddle valve, follow these steps:

    1. Attach the two straps (saddles) over the cold water pipe and secure them with the supplied bolts and nuts.

      The shaft or spike of the valve is hollow and pointed so that when you tighten or close the handle of the valve completely, the tip of the shaft pierces the copper pipe and water then flows through the hollow center.

    2. Open the valve completely to allow water to flow through the tubing to the fridge.

      The copper tubing uses a compression fitting to connect it to the tapping valve’s threaded end. Use an adjustable wrench to tighten the nut to the fitting.

  4. Drill a hole through the floor (if you’re coming up from the basement) so that you can feed the copper tubing up to the refrigerator.

    Use a spade bit to drill up through the flooring. Remember to wear eye protection, as you’ll be drilling overhead, and it’s easy for something to fall in your eye.

    If you’re working in your basement, a quick way to spot the hole location from below is to drive a nail through the kitchen floor from above. Then simply go in the basement and look for the tip of the nail — that’s where you drill the hole.

  5. After the hole is drilled, feed the tubing up into the kitchen.

    Don’t cut off any extra tubing; instead, bend two or three large coils behind the fridge so that you can move the fridge in and out for cleaning without putting any stress on the tubing or the connections.

  6. Use a compression fitting to connect the kitchen end of the tubing to the back of the refrigerator’s water fill valve, usually located in the lower left corner.

  7. After all the connections are made, open the water supply and check for leaks.

You shouldn’t have a leak at the refrigerator unless you didn’t connect the threaded fitting on the water inlet valve properly. If it leaks there, carefully remove the fitting and reconnect it, keeping the fitting straight with the threads. If the compression-fitting valve leaks, turn off the water and redo the compression fittings.

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