Is an outlet box for fridge ice maker necessary? (turns off water)
April 30, 2013 12:50 AM   Subscribe

I just ordered a new fridge and was told by Best Buy that they won't hook up the ice maker if I don't have an outlet box (a water shut off valve that is right behind the fridge). Right now, I just have a plastic tube coming up out of the floor that goes straight into the fridge. Is it necessary to have an outlet box for my fridge? I have never lived anywhere with one, everyone seems to use the ol' tube straight into the fridge method. If needed--is it easy to DIY (I'm confident with basic tools) it or should I call a plumber? Otherwise, I was just going to connect the hose after the Best Buy guys have left.
posted by dottiechang to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
I'm guessing Best Buy doesn't want to bother with hunting around for the water shutoff when they do their installation. From a convenience/safety standpoint, it makes sense to have a valve that turns the water off right at the fridge, but you can probably get away with having just a tube, though the water hammer arrester is probably a good thing to have on the line.

That particular outlet box has a sweat connection. Unless you're reasonably confident with soldering copper pipes, it's probably better to call a plumber.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 2:20 AM on April 30, 2013

I'm guessing Best Buy doesn't want the liability. Previously. There may also be code restrictions in your jurisdiction, which exempt homeowners themselves (perhaps after a cursory course offered by the city) but require a licensed contractor in all other cases. Obviously, if you do it yourself, you may have more of an uphill battle with your home insurance in the event of a failure.

It's one thing to connect an appliance to existing plumbing (e.g. toilet, washing machine), it's another entirely to install that plumbing yourself. Sweating is something that's effortless for my brother but I can never do it right myself. I would call a plumber at your level of proficiency.
posted by dhartung at 2:53 AM on April 30, 2013

Personally, I'd just thank the BB guys for doing the heavy lifting of getting the appliance moved into place, wave bye-bye and hook it up myself. Before doing so I'd follow the plastic or copper ice maker line all the way back to the saddle valve, both so that I was certain I knew where to find that valve (which acts as a shutoff in an emergency) and so that I was confident the entire line was in good condition. If I found any kinked, abraded or otherwise compromised sections in the line or if the saddle valve looked like it had seen better days, I'd replace all of that.

I have no problem sweating pipes, but that outlet box is a PITA because it's designed to be installed before the drywall is up. The only way to get it in would be to cut a big, oversized hole in the wall and fix it up afterwards, which would entail taping and mudding and priming and painting and having about 30 square feet of leftover drywall that you don't know what to do with.
posted by jon1270 at 4:02 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Installing an outlet box after the fact may not be as hard as it sounds - you might have to actually look at several stores to find one that could be retrofitted without too much trouble. But it is probably a lot more messing around than you need to do.
posted by jgreco at 5:17 AM on April 30, 2013

An Outlet Box is a good thing to have, especially if the line starts to leak. Also, it looks nicer than some line coming out of the floor.

There are some DIY videos on the web that will show you how to connect the line, so you don't HAVE to do it, but isn't it good to have one less jankity thing in your house?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:20 AM on April 30, 2013

I concur with jon1270 let BB do the lifting and you can screw the line on. The outlet boxes seem about worthless if you do have a leak are you going to take the time to pull the fridge out or are you going to run down to the basement and turn off the saddle valve? ..... I'm making some broad assumptions as to how your home and plumbing are configured.
posted by jmsta at 8:46 AM on April 30, 2013

Thanks! I'll probably call a plumber in to do an install on the outlet later on but use the plastic tube in the interim. I do like being careful, since I have wood floors, but it seems like something that can wait until I have time to take care of it.

Right now, the fridge is opposite the sink and the plastic line goes from under the sink, into the basement and pops up right behind the fridge.
posted by dottiechang at 9:52 AM on April 30, 2013

As long as you know where the shutoff valve is, and you can access it quickly (at least as quickly as it would take to pull the fridge out) in case of a leak, I'd just hook it up directly. That's what I have in my house anyway. I can get to the shutoff in the basement far more quickly than I could get to a shutoff behind the fridge, so why bother?
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:24 PM on April 30, 2013

It was easy to connect the ice maker line to the new fridge. I confirmed the line is in good shape by following it from under the sink, across the basement and also checked the connector piece. Turning the water on and off seems 100X easier under the sink than rolling that big fridge out of the way, climbing over half the stove and hopping down in the space behind the fridge. I do think the water hammer arrestor is a good idea but not in a huge rush to do it now that I see the connection seems very sound.
posted by dottiechang at 7:34 PM on May 1, 2013

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