Why your refrigerator shouldn't be perfectly level – CNET

Why your refrigerator shouldn't be perfectly level – CNET

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

When you install a new refrigerator in your kitchen, one of the first things you should do before sliding it into position is make sure it’s properly leveled. Skip that step, and the refrigerator’s performance may suffer and some mechanisms might not function properly.

When leveling a refrigerator, you’re not looking for the unit to be perfectly level. In fact, it should sit back a bit, with the front edge of the refrigerator higher than the back.

Fortunately, in most cases, leveling is a quick and painless process.

Problems with a refrigerator not properly leveled

A refrigerator that isn’t properly leveled might have to work overtime to keep your perishables cool.

When leveled correctly (more on that soon), the doors to the main cabinet and the freezer should close on their own when opened less than 90 degrees. This minimizes the time the doors are left open. This is important for keeping the humidity level inside the freezer low, to prevent frost or ice buildup. It also helps keep someone from walking away without closing the door, which can save you money on your power bill.

Also, the ice maker may not function properly and the freezer defrost cycle or main refrigeration cabinet may not drain as they should.

Leveling a refrigerator

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

    To avoid these problems altogether or to troubleshoot a freezer with ice buildup, you just need to make a few, quick adjustments to the legs on the front of the refrigerator. Here’s how:

    • Remove the grille at the bottom front of the refrigerator. The grille typically has quick release clips or a few screws to undo before it can be removed. This varies by model, so consult your user manual if it’s not immediately apparent how the grille is removed.
    • Behind the grille, you will see one height-adjustable leg on either side. You may also see rollers. Some refrigerators use height-adjustable rollers for leveling.
      • To adjust the height of threaded leveling legs, simply rotate the legs. You may need to someone to help lean the refrigerator back to gain access to them. Some leveling legs can be adjusted with a wrench from the top side of the threads. Typically, the threading is backwards, so rotating the legs clockwise will raise the front of the refrigerator, while rotating counter-clockwise will lower it.
      • For refrigerators with height-adjustable rollers, look for an adjustment screw near the top of the roller. It varies by model, but in most cases, using a screwdriver to tighten the screw (clockwise) will raise the front of the refrigerator and loosening (counter-clockwise) will lower it.
    • If your refrigerator has rollers and leveling legs, the legs should be raised enough to bear the weight of the refrigerator, lifting the rollers off the floor. If doing this lifts the front of the refrigerator more than 0.5 inches (1.27 centimeters) higher than the back, consider pulling the refrigerator out from the wall and raising the back leveling legs, as well.

    You may need to repeat this process a few times to get the leveling just right.

    Left-to-right, the refrigerator should be perfectly level. Front-to-back, the angle should be minimal. Generally, manufacturers recommend the front of the refrigerator to be approximately 0.25 to 0.5 inches (0.635 to 1.27 centimeters) higher than the back. This should be enough for the doors to close on their own with enough force to make a complete seal without slamming shut.

    Source: CNET Smart Home