Installing Kitchen Appliances
If installing a kitchen was like building a car then it's time to fit the engine, in this case the appliances. Kitchens, like cars, depend upon the quality of the appliances to give a more efficient performance. There is a wide range of appliances now available and they can range from Reliant Robin to Rolls Royce in their comparative looks and performance. The current trend is for aluminum or stainless steel finishes and due to their popularity they are more expensive.
Some appliances are fitter friendly, others not. Some manufacturers offer a good service back up if things go wrong, others don't and some may last for years others, months. After 23 years of installing appliances, I have formed an experienced opinion on what's hot and what's not in the kitchen. Anyone wishing to hear of my views before buying a particular make can register and post a query in our forum and I will offer an honest opinion on your choice.
Anyway, every car needs a parking space so in this article I'll attempt to show you how to install your appliances with the minimum of fuss.
Hand tools. Screwdrivers both pozidrive and slotted heads of varying sizes, pliers and grips.
Cordless drill/driver Masonry, screwdriver, and steel drill bits of various widths.
Patience, understanding and the ability to deflect criticism successfully.
Freestanding Washing Machines/Dishwashers.
The majority of washing machines are 595mm wide and the important thing to remember is that freestanding machines are normally between 840mm and 860mm high. Important because when installing your kitchen units at the standard height of 870mm, this can leave very little tolerance for fitting when flooring has been added. A 600mm, or 450mm, in the case of slim-line dishwashers, space is sufficient and will ensure a more fully fitted look.
For correct fitting of a washing machine, all plumbing services should be fitted in an adjacent cupboard to prevent the machine protruding from the worktop. A washing machine waste of 40mm diameter can be fitted within the void of an adjacent cupboard and again this will prevent the machine protruding from the worktop.
If fitted next to a sink unit, the waste from the appliance may be incorporated with that of the sink. However should the washing machine and dishwasher be sited either side of the sink, I recommend that you install a separate waste pipe. Three appliances entering one waste pipe will render the waste extremely prone to blockages.
Electrical services should also be fitted in an adjoining unit and appropriate sized holes for hoses and plugs must be drilled through the back or base of the cupboard. This can be achieved with an appropriately sized hole saw.
Flooring for all freestanding appliances should be installed prior to final fitting. After completing the above, slide the washing machine into place and make necessary adjustments to the feet for leveling purposes.
Built under freestanding fridges/freezers.
Installation of built under fridges/freezers is carried out much the same as above yet they vary in widths. Adding 5mm to the width of the appliance will leave sufficient space for fitting.
Freestanding machines may be fully integrated by the use of a deeper worktop and by increasing the width of the space and doors that will house them.
Before explaining the installation of cookers and hobs, I must stress that to work on any gas appliance, a person must be competent to do so.
Built in Ovens/Microwaves.
Whether the oven is a single or double oven ensure the cabinet aperture is the correct size for the appliance as heights can vary. Check the electrical rating of the appliance and fit the appropriate sized outlet, again avoiding the space directly behind the appliance. Once you've fed the appliance flex to the outlet, this may be in adjacent cupboard or in the case of a double oven, in the cupboard above, slide in the appliance and screw to the cabinet gables with the screws provided.
It may be that you wish to install a splash back with your range cooker and to fit one correctly you must determine the finished height of your worktop. The reason for this being, that your extractor should be fitted prior to fitting the cooker and splash back fixings are positioned behind the position of the extractor. Installing this before fitting the cooker will prevent any damage to the appliance and ensure that you have adequate space to work.
Preparation for the fitting of Range Cookers is similar to that of a freestanding appliance in that the space between cupboards needs to be accurate and I would suggest, 5mm wider than the appliance. The electrical connection, as with all appliances, should be made through an adjacent cupboard for access purposes.
Great importance should be given to the finished height of the appliance and the top edge of the cooker should finish at least 5mm above the worktop. Although not regulatory, I protect adjacent worktop edges with metal edging strips and these are available at major DIY outlets.
Should the appliance legs offer insufficient height adjustment, the appliance must be raised on a platform. This platform can then be finished in a material of your choice to match the appliance or the kitchen.
Integrated Dishwasher/Washing Machine
Integrated Dishwashers are available in slim line, generally 450mm width, and standard, 600mm wide sizes. The size of the dishwasher matches the aperture you will need to leave to accommodate the appliance, no more, no less. The only room for accommodating crossing pipe work or services behind integrated dishwashers is within the recess at the bottom of the machine. This is an important point to remember as to install services elsewhere behind the appliance will result in the dishwasher protruding from the adjacent cabinets and unless you wish to start a new design trend, this is to be avoided.
Doors are fitted to the appliance door by means of fixings provided with each machine a template assists in marking the appropriate points. The nature of the way a dishwasher door opens, warrants that the kitchen kickboard be cut approximately 10mm directly beneath the appliance in order to accommodate the door on opening.
Again, water and electrical services for both dishwashers and washing machines should terminate in an adjacent cupboard and waste services must be fitted behind an adjacent unit, within the void. Should the appliance be sited next to a sink however, the waste can be integrated with the sinks waste outlet.
When positioning the appliance in readiness to connect, feed the water hoses and electrical flex behind the appropriate rear unit leg. This will allow access to the services when the appliance is in place and will also permit fitting before the furniture plinth is installed.
The height of the appliance is made by means of adjustable feet and the rear feet can be accessed under the unit prior to fitting the plinth. Once you've achieved the correct level, screw to the underside of the worktop with the screws provided. Dishwashers require the fitting of a protective waterproof barrier and this should be fitted to the underside of the worktop once the appliance is in place.
Many integrated washing machines present a further problem for installers as they have no recess at the rear of the machine and the height adjustment is minimal. For this reason it may be necessary to install a platform ensuring that it does not protrude from the furniture plinth and no services should cross the rear wall behind the appliance as they will impede on the appliance hoses, thereby obstructing correct fitting.
Of all integrated appliances, integrated washing machines in my opinion are the least fitter friendly and require many improvements before they become so. The door is fitted to the appliance by means of side opening hinges that allow little adjustment and you may be required to drill the furniture door hinges to match adjacent door heights. There is little room for error and measurements should be double checked before drilling.
Built Under Integrated Fridges/Freezers
Follow the same rules as for installing a dishwasher. Again there is no room for services directly behind unless at low level. Feet are fully height adjustable and fridges or freezers are screwed to the worktop through pre-drilled holes once fitted. For door fitting, follow the instructions supplied with the appliance. These again, will come with a template and fixings. More manufacturers allow rear leg adjustment from the front of the appliance and this makes for simpler installation.
Built In Integrated Fridges/Freezers
Integrated built in appliances, unlike built-under appliances, are fitted within a furniture housing. Some manufacturers require the doors of the housing to be fitted to the cabinet prior to fitting the appliance but of recent; more rely on fitting the doors direct to the appliance after fitting.
Templates and fixings are provided with the appliance and provision is made for fixing through the feet and the top of the appliance once leveling is complete. Ensure that the appliance is fitted to the correct depth for correct operation of both the cabinet and appliance doors.
Again it is a good rule to avoid services to the rear of the appliance. It may be necessary to adapt the cabinet prior to fitting your built in appliance as some cabinet manufacturers leave a back fitted to the appliance aperture. This will need to be removed to allow correct fitting of the appliance.
Appliances fitted within a housing require adequate ventilation and this is achieved by fitting a ventilator to the plinth.
American Freestanding Fridge Freezers
These appliances are becoming increasingly popular and require a cold water supply. They can be integrated to blend in with your kitchen by installing a top cupboard between two tall end panels. As with other appliances, services i.e. water and electrical, should terminate and be connected to the appliance via an adjacent cupboard. Should this not be possible, fit the services as close as possible to the rear wall. If you wish your fridge to lie flush with the adjacent cabinets you will require greater depth matching end panels and this will achieve the desired effect.
Built In Microwaves
Microwaves can be fitted within both wall units and appliance housings dependent on the model purchased. To do this will require a build-in kit in addition the microwave. Electrical supply again should be fitted to an adjacent cupboard or in the cupboard above or below the appliance.
Hobs - Gas and Electric
After cutting the appropriate sized hole in your worktop and protecting the exposed chipboard, the hob needs fixing to the worktop. Apply the seal (provided with the appliance) to the worktop. Fix the hob on the underside with the fixing clips provided and electrical or gas connections can now be made. Gas connections must be made by a competent person
When a hob is fitted above an oven, gas pipe work must be completed in such a way as not to impede the fitting of the appliance below. Electrical connection in the configuration described above, must be made in an adjacent and accessible unit unless the hob is fitted above a drawer or door unit.
Having left the appropriate gap and installed the wall outlet, if applicable, secure the brackets to the rear wall and hang the extractor. Remove the pivotal door-fixing frame and screw the appliance to the adjacent cabinets. Fit the door to the fixing frame using the screws provided. This is made easier by using a template if provided. Make the vent connection to the exhaust outlet of the appliance and make the electrical connection in the accessible yet hidden space at the rear top of the extractor.
Chimney Style Extractors
A popular choice in contemporary kitchens is the chimney style extractor and it is imperative to ensure alignment and level for its installation. To achieve the correct finish, mark the centre line of the hob on the rear wall and continue this line up to the ceiling. Use this line as a reference point for fixing the flue brackets above the extractor. Ensure that the extractor is sited the correct and regulatory distance above the hob and transfer the template measurements to the wall using the line as reference. All ventilation connections should be made behind the flue and may be possible above the ceiling dependent on the joist direction.
After installing the extractor and flue, place the telescopic two-part chimney on top of the appliance. Slide the chimney up to the ceiling and fix to the previously installed bracket. Electrical connection for chimney extractors should be made via a fused outlet in an accessible position above the worktop. The feed from this should terminate behind the flue and connection to the extractor can be made via a junction box of appropriate size.
The cut-out for the extractor is best made prior to installing the canopy and electrical and flue connections should all be made within the canopy. Canopies fitted between units are easier installed by fixing a temporary batten across the top. Lift the canopy above the neighbouring units and slowly bring down to rest on them. This will ensure the unit will remain level with the adjoining units before fixing. Fixing of the furniture canopy can be made within the cut-out by drilling four holes to each gable and fixing with appropriately sized screws. Install the extractor into the cut out after making electrical and flue connections.
Before installing an island extractor, the ceiling to which it will be fitted may require extra timber fitted, between or adjacent to the existing joists. Adequate fixing is imperative to carry the weight of the appliance. When you have determined the position of your extractor, the flue, if the joists allow, should be fed through to the nearest outside wall.
The fixing frame should be fitted to the ceiling with the screws supplied. The extractor will then require fitting. Final leveling using the adjustable bolts can now be done before tightening. Again, electrical connections can be made within the flue via a fused spur fitted to the wall above worktop height. Finally, the flue, which is in two parts, can be fitted and screwed to the frame with the fixings supplied.
Well apart from the toaster, blender and sandwich maker, I think that covers most appliances in the kitchen. All that's left once they're fitted is to cook, cool and wash in them. If like me, however, you're that cook that spoils the broth, stick to the washing.
next article: Kitchen Nightmares - how to avoid them
© Tim Foley 2009