Armed with the right knowledge and tools, you could save hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars by performing your own appliance installation. Having the wherewithal to just do it, many installs can be done by the average homeowner. Let's explore various appliance installations and the things you'll need for the job. We'll also look at a few things you probably shouldn't do. This article is DIY, so remember that a little insurance to prevent water/fire/appliance damage may be a good idea as well.
Should I DIY, or Hire an Appliance Installation Expert?
Virtually every appliance store offers delivery and professional installation. My rule of thumb is, unless I can easily maneuver the appliance by myself, I usually pay for delivery, then do my own installation. Delivery is well under a hundred bucks, which I think is a bargain for many large, heavy or awkward appliances.
If part of the installation requires specialized skills or tools, I might lean toward hiring it out. If the tool is fairly inexpensive and the skill I need to learn isn't crazy out of reach, I'll tackle it myself. I always check to make sure I perform everything to code. Remember, meeting code requirements is a minimum safety standard. You must ensure code is met, and then improve upon it. It's one of my homeowner tips worth remembering.
Believing in your own ability is half the battle. The other half is arming yourself with the right knowledge and tools. By the end of this article, you'll have a pretty good idea whether or not you should give appliance installation a try.
DIY Appliance Installation Overview
The primary steps to follow in any appliance installation are:
- Confidence in yourself that you can actually perform the installation safely
- Reading the installation manual of the new appliance all the way through before beginning
- Disconnecting the old unit
- Removing and disposing of the old appliance
- Modifications and upgrades to the location of the new appliance and to the new appliance itself if necessary
- Connecting the new appliance
- Positioning, leveling and securing the new appliance
Confidence - the Name of the Game
In my handyman business, I've installed a lot of appliances. Before I begin, I always look carefully at the job in front of me. Do I know how, or can I do this installation? Do I have all the tools I need? I ask the most important questions every single time, up front. I want to know that I can either do the job well or figure it out all the way - before I start.
Don't Void The Warranty (Read the Manual)
It can be easy to void a warranty just by missing a simple step. Read the manual all the way through. It's good common sense and unless you're installing the exact same appliance over and over and you have it memorized, you should read through the installation manual so no steps are left out. Do it every time. Seriously.
Removing Your Old Appliance
Of course you'll need to remove the old appliance. Look for brackets or bolts attaching the appliance to the wall or floor and remove them. Stove installation requires wall brackets to avoid a tipping danger. A quick look under and behind the appliance will help you find them.
Stoves don't typically tip over. Still, imagine roasting a 24 pound turkey in an oven with no brackets installed. You go to remove the bird and as you're taking it out, a little hot juice spills over onto your arm. You drop the turkey onto the open oven door and suddenly the entire oven is front-heavy and it tips over, spilling the entire contents of the roasting pan and whatever was on top of the stove onto you and the floor.
You get the picture. It isn't pretty. Installing anti-tip brackets isn't fun, but it can save you a lot of pain down the road.
Disconnect all electrical power, venting or water sources. For example a refrigerator simply has a power cord and a water line if it has an automatic ice maker. Disconnecting a water source that has been around for a while can often cause you to have to replace a major part, like a valve or spigot.
Old plumbing can be problematic. Unless you know what you're doing, a plumber may have to be called in when that happens. Be aware of the real possibility that a water valve that won't close all the way and be ready for it.
Once you remove the old appliance and clean up the area, the new appliance can be installed. Modifications happen when there are differences between the old and new appliance units.
Fittings for example, may be different in size or threading. It's not uncommon to see something you want to improve or replace when an old appliance is removed. Certain things, like rusted or broken parts associated with the installation will require replacement. A good resource for appliance parts is Repair Clinic.com. I've purchased off-the-wall items from them that have matched well.
Proper Disposal of Your Old Appliance
Unless you already know exactly how to dispose of your old appliance properly, use a service like 1-800 Got Junk. They can refurbish it and sell it to someone else or recycle the parts. They'll even come get it if your city doesn't already have a disposal plan in place that you like.
Modifications and Upgrades
If both the old and new units share the same technical features in terms of installation, size and use, then you'll likely be done fairly quickly. Yet, if it happens that the new appliance is a different shape or size, then alterations or adjustments may be required before installation of the new appliance. Don't get caught halfway through an installation when you realize the new dishwasher is 2" wider than the old one. It can happen so measure everything carefully.
In order to accommodate the new appliance, you may need to make changes to the area where the old unit was. Say that you decide to purchase and install a new stove. If it turns out that the old stove was gas and the new one is electrical, then the gas line needs to be capped and secured or maybe even removed all together.
Install an electrical source if it's required or hire someone to do it for you. Because all home appliances need either gas or electricity to operate, it is certain that the unit will require one of these two sources. Make sure the new unit will have access to the proper connections.
Connecting Your New Appliance
Water, electrical, gas and safety feature connections to an appliance are done when the unit is almost in its final position. Plugging it in, hooking it up to gas or venting and securing the anti-tip or other safety features are the last things you'll need to do.
The final stage is positioning and leveling of the unit. Every effort needs to be made so the unit is square, level and safely in place. Since most home appliances are adjustable for level through their legs, you'll need to check that the unit is as close to perfectly level as possible. All home appliance manufacturers provide instructions on how to level it.
If your eggs always seem to slide to one side of your pan, it's likely that your stove isn't level. Make sure your stove is as perfectly level as possible. It will save energy, too. heat rises and it's most efficient to stack your heat source to what you're cooking as vertically as possible. Maybe that's splitting hairs. Anyway, eggs sliding to one side of the pan is annoying.
When to Hire a Professional Installer
Here's a good place to say that, if a new gas line or electrical outlet needs to be run, hire a pro. Don't mess with junction boxes or try installing a new gas line without a thorough knowledge of what you're doing. At times, the difference between fumbling your way through something you're unfamiliar with and hiring a professional with the knowledge and tools can mean the difference between life and death.
Before considering the project complete, a gas line needs to be carefully checked for leaks. A new gas line from the outlet valve to your new stove isn't a challenge to attach. It's a simple thing to attach a new line yourself. You just need to be 100% sure there are no leaks. I wrote a few thoughts on the idea of simplifying which projects you tackle, and which ones to avoid, in this article.
A knowledgeable homeowner can install venting if it's required. Two quick examples are over the oven vent hoods, and dryers. If you're not afraid to crawl around in your attic and cut holes, you can install venting. If it's a little daunting to know where to vent an appliance or how to vent it, get that part of the project done by a pro, especially if you think it needs to be vented to the outside of your house through an exterior wall or the roof.
Specialty Tools For Appliance Installations
Gas Leak Detector
Summary & Conclusion
- Read the installation manual all the way through! Some things that are done improperly or not done at all can void a warranty.
- Use the proper tools for the job. Improper tools can damage critical parts.
- Know your limitations ..and if in doubt, hire it out!
- Always stay safe.
Most appliance installations are pretty straight forward and doing it yourself can not only save you money, but give you a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Sometimes, it can bridge the gap between owning a house and creating a home. Usually, it’s just a matter of knowing the difference between a real fear and an imagined one.
Ready to try other home maintenance on your own? Try cleaning your ac condenser. It’s a really easy way to save about a hundred dollars per year and it can be done in about an hour.
Stretching your DIY wings can be quite gratifying – for sure!