Sub-Zero Fridge Installation

Putting in a Sub-Zero? Cabinet installers feel your pain. But the big, heavy units have their defenders too. February 27, 2013

I'm doing my first install with a 700 series built in subzero. The job is inset, beaded frames. Itís seriously heavy. Anyway, I have a tall pantry on the left, a cabinet above it, and a stile on the right side of the reefer where there's a wall. I got the cabinet in, all scribed, attached, and the opening is the right size, plumb, etc.

I tried for the next hour to get the reefer back in the hole, brought it up about 1/2" on the levelers, and it seems kind of spongy. All the feet are making contact, but it can be rocked back and forth. I'm having trouble getting the consistent 1/8" gap on both sides too, even though the opening is good and the panels on the reefer all line up well. Why didn't they countersink those rivets on the side of the sheet metal cabinet? They made a couple nice dings on the bead as the fridge was being pushed back in.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor W:
I did a pair of them (separate refrigerator and freezer) separated by an 8' run of cabinets. You are right, they are a pain to install. I allowed a day to install and spent over two days getting them in place, lined up, and panels installed. My big complaint is the lack of panel adjustment with panels in place. You need to remove panels to make minor adjustments, which is not easy with a large finished panel by yourself.

From contributor U:
I don't remember off the top of my head what that model number includes, but be sure you follow the installation instructions to the letter with reference to anti-tip devices. Especially with panels attached, the door is very heavy and the fridge will tip.

From contributor R:
The 700 series has metal tabs on the sides of the unit (four each side). These have holes to anchor the refrigerator to your opening, and then the white trim strips snap over the tabs to conceal these. If you set two screws in each of the tabs, I'm not sure how you are still able to 'rock it back and forth'?

From the original questioner:
I haven't put the screws in those tabs yet because I haven't been able to get it centered in the opening. I just can't move the darn thing. There's so much weight I can't move the front levelers and the fridge is practically empty. You can't reach those tabs on the hinge side either. In my installation, there is no way for it to tip, even without the bracket. It would hit the bottom of the cabinet above it, and the cabinet is too tall to tip forward as well.

From contributor E:
How well supported is the floor where the fridge sits? You're right about how heavy those things are. Some builders we know actually add support in the floor joists to help carry the load. Your problem could be the result of a spongy floor.

From the original questioner:
In this case the fridge was there before I was even brought on to build the cabinet that surrounds it. Itís tough to do an install of the cabinet with the appliance in the way. Next time, I'll gladly get the appliance dealer to deal with it.

From contributor D:
There is another problem to watch out for on these beasts. The fronts of the doors have blown-in insulation and Subzero has no quality control measure for getting the front panel on the doors perfectly flat. I had an installation that the doors bowed out almost 1/2" in the front and Subzero had to replace them three times before the problem got corrected. Also, keep in mind how hard it would be to install the Deco Panels when there is a half inch bow in the door. Below is a picture of the final installation.

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From the original questioner:
I had to waive the white flag on this one. After many hours of effort I can't get this thing to do what I want it to do. I'll let the appliance dealer send somebody out. I hope they have some tricks I don't know. I gave their phone tech an earful of suggestions. The rear leveling system is genius, they just need to re-engineer the front to be half as smart.

From contributor J:
I sympathize with these posts. I recently completed installation of an imported Italian kitchen. The Subzero, which was luckily only a 36 inch model, had to be raised over two inches to accommodate the solid aluminum euro kick. I built two narrow platforms from layers of 3/4 ply wide enough for the wheels to ride on and just deep enough to the fridge without interfering with the snap on kick. I screwed them to the floor and then (good thing the plumber was there) we just tilted the (empty) unit onto the platforms and rolled it into place. I had made sure the platforms were dead level and the wheels fully cranked up. Also, never use cardboard to protect the floor from wheel marks. Masonite or plywood worked fine.

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From contributor Y:
I know what you are saying. We have done a few of them and they are more trouble than they are worth and almost a guaranteed call back because of alignment. On one job the customer demanded two of the 700ís side by side with no center stile. Just try to keep them both lined up perfectly after you finally get all six panels adjusted correctly. It is absurd to try to jump through the hoops necessary to make their products look good. If we built our cabinets like that we wouldn't get hired.

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From contributor I:
I don't mean to go against the grain but the SubZero 700 is a great refrigerator to use in kitchen design. We have probably used 30 of them in the last 4 years. They look completely invisible when installed. After you use them a couple of times and get the hang of the install and adjustments they will go in pretty quick. It takes us about two hours to install the panels and make adjustments now. There is more flexibility with frameless than with faceframe.

I can't imagine the appliance guy doing the paneling and installation. We used to have one builder who would set them himself and everyone had the side of the cabinet opening scraped and scratched. When glazing was the craze it made touching-up the dings a pain. My granite guy purchased a small air powered lift to help him move appliances around that we have used a couple of times and it was helpful in setting the fridge in the hole.