Lately I’ve run into a couple of situations that lead me to give you some invaluable tips when you are planning or executing either a remodel, or building a new structure. I know you’ve heard the saying “plan ahead”, and I also know that remodeling sometimes has to happen “on the fly”. I will suggest either plan ahead, or plan for the unknown. And gosh darn it, if it ain’t right, fix it! It’ll save you time and money in the long run.
You might recognize this problem more readily if you had a far off view. This is the water supply valve for the dishwasher. The two major problems here are 1) The dishwasher is going to stick out of the kitchen cabinet about two inches. I guess you could solve this after-the-fact by cutting a hole in the dishwasher to allow the valve to extend into the dishwasher, then foam the whole thing into place with a can of spray foam. I have actually seen “solutions” similar to this. 2) One function of the water shut off valve is to, well, shut off the water in case of a problem. This would prove a little difficult when the shut off valve is behind the dishwasher. The solution here was to cut an arm size hole in the adjacent cabinet. Brilliant!
In an effort to convince our technicians that my brain in still intact, I occasionally ask them “What is the most dangerous thing we work with?”. By now, they roll their eyes and answer correctly: “Water”. We work with electricity, gas, sharp metal, we run with pencils and scissors, we cut ourselves on unfinished metal edges (manufacturers are very cautious about the consumer, but technicians are apparently an unprotected class) and we sometimes see if something is hot by touching it (no kidding). But with all of that, the most dangerous thing we work with is water. A tiny leak over time does a huge amount of damage. A large leak can ruin your home in a matter of minutes or hours.
All water, electrical, and gas associated devices should be carefully planned and installed. Shut off valves and/or breakers should be accessible, and please, please, please, let the plumber, or electrician, or a qualified installer make the connections.
Let me take the installation issue a step further. We see a fair number of “installation related” issues in appliances that were not installed by a qualified person. Electricians and plumbers can make the perfect connection to the appliance. . . . .if the space is properly prepared, and ALL of the rough out locations for utilities are located where the manufacturer says they should be located. I haven’t seen an installation instruction sheet that says “locate the water/electrical/drain wherever the hell you want to”. If this is not done the installer (who is being pressured by the homeowner or contractor, or their own schedule) could force the installation, without knowing a future functional issue or future problem has been created.
The real and easy path to preventing these things from happening is to pick your appliances, fixtures, and any “installed” items in the planning stage. After choosing your appliances, make sure your contractor reads, understands, and executes the cabinet openings and utility connections as stated in the installation instructions for each appliance. Every one is different. Since work is done by sub-contractors, it is important that your General Contractor insist that his subs install utilities as specified by both code, and the appliance manufacturers’ instructions.
I understand not being able to decide on some of these things in the planning stages. Typically you may only plan the amount of space you allow, based on standard sizes (by the way, usually the ONLY standard openings for kitchen appliances are the dishwasher and freestanding ranges). If this is the case, ask your contractor to leave the utility connections “moveable” until an exact model is chosen. Done up front, there should be minimal (if any) additional costs to do so
Back to problems:
Another water catastrophe I recently encountered, was the slow but sure type. A customer has a beautiful built-in refrigerator in their five year old home. They first noticed that there was mold/mildew on the pantry wall, which is located behind the refrigerator. Investigating further, they found a small amount water was creeping out from under the refrigerator, almost unnoticeable. We uninstalled the refrigerator to find the connection to the water valve was not properly seated. Over time, it failed and a small amount of water continually dripped out. First, obviously the shut off valve could not be accessed even though the homeowner knew they had a water problem, likely behind the refrigerator. Second, instead of a simple connection repair, they are faced with replacing drywall, replacing wood flooring, and treating framing to prevent dry rot in the wood framing.
Whether a refrigerator you can roll or one that is built-in, they should have an accessible water shut off valve. Period. In this case the easy solution is simply locating the the shut off valve facing into the pantry, so that it can be accessed, or at least have an access cover and hole that would allow you to reach through the wall to access the shut off valve, if it were necessary. Personally, I would have the shut off valve facing the pantry, so that if I had a problem there, as in this case, I would have the ability to see it every time I went into the pantry.
Feel free to contact us a www.SaveMyAppliance.com if you have remodeling questions.