Cabinetry around regular refrigerator

marti8aMarch 30, 2010

I keep seeing k*tchens with cabinets built around a regular type refrigerator/freezer. Mine get pretty hot on top and I was wondering if you have to have some kind of venting or something to allow for air flow around it. I think my manual has a required clearance of about 5 inches, but I could be mistaken.

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bobb_2010

I believe that 5" top clearance assumes it's closed on 3 sides, so the only place to vent the hot air is on top.

If u decide to fully enclose it, yeah, I assume u will provide it some kind of vent on the back.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 3:08AM
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ccoombs1

5"? Read your owners manual. Most refrigerators vent out the bottom in the front, so the clearances only need to be 1/2" all around or so. But check and see what yours requires. I doubt it's 5".

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 6:40AM
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palimpsest

It *really depends upon the fridge.

I am doing a project where the client is keeping her current 30" wide fridge, and it requires 2" on each side and "at least 3"" on top, as well as some space at the back. Its not that old either, just a really inexpensive free standing fridge.

I am doing a 36" opening, because if she ever got a counterdepth 36" which *does vent out the front, it would still have the 1/8" that is required on the sides.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:13AM
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macybaby

Mine vents out the bottom front. Only clearances needs is enough to get the machine in - the door hinges at top caused some problems - they require about 2" above the top of the fridge and our unit goes back far enough that it became a concern.

Mine does not get hot on the top at all. This is an Amana side by side - not a "high end" machine at all. Bought it 6 years ago when we first moved in, long before I found GW and got biten by the kitchen bug.

I have a larger gap at the top becuase I wanted to mimic the look of the base of the cabinets - I'm working on the doors now (beadboard) and really like the look.

The doors over the fridge actually come below the face - there is no vertical frame showing when they are closed.

Cathy

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 9:59AM
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morgne

I was under the impression that a free standing fridge vents from above and a built in vents from the front bottom or front top.

Macybaby, it looks like yours is a built in? So it makes sense that it vents from the front and palimpsets sounds like it's NOT a built in so the requirement makes sense.

Does it seem like that's a pretty true general guideline?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:24AM
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needsometips08

Mine has a sticker inside that has the serial # and other stuff on it, and it says on there:

"minimum installation clearance top: 1/2 inch".

This is on a standard Kitchen Aid freezer bottom, single door top.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 11:40AM
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morgne

needsometips,

That's interesting! Where does that fridge vent?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 12:20PM
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kitchenobsessed

marti8a brought up something REALLY important. Brands really vary in terms of how much clearance their freestanding refrigerators require, and at least one requires a ridiculous amount. Also, if yours requires minimal clearance and you are planning to cut it close in an enclosed place, bear in mind how level (or not) your floor may be and how close to true your walls and other angles may be. It is not so much an issue of not fitting, but one of rolling the darn thing in and out.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 1:09PM
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needsometips08

There is a vent on bottom about 2" tall, which is also the base of the fridge.

You can see it in this photo. (BTW, the vent isn't black - it's a grey that matches the stainless steel. I don't know why it looks black in the photo.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen Aid that needs 1/2 top clearance

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 1:23PM
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morgne

That is a beautiful fridge. It looks like a good choice. So perhaps the front venting is more common with the better/more expensive fridges that are often assumend to be boxed in? Hmmm. Kitchenobsessed is right of course on just how much a little can make a BIG difference.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 4:17PM
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macybaby

mine is not a built in. It is a free standing Amana with finished sides and back. We recessed the wall 2' into the bedroom and built cupboards out 6" so we could make the fridge look "built in"

I have the manual, and it needs 1/8" room on both sides and 2" on the top - it does vent out the bottom only.

Cathy

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 5:12PM
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needsometips08

Morgne, I love my fridge - every aspect of it from it being single door to being counter depth but so well organized that I haven't found a situation where I am short on space yet.

If I had to buy another fridge all over again, it would be this one. And the price has gone down in the last couple months - I paid $2600 with a $100 rebate.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 7:56PM
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bobb_2010

I too have a KitchenAid bottom freezer and it also specifies 1/2 top clearance min. The radiator coil sit horizontal at the bottom of the unit. I had automatically assumed they all vent on the back, I would hate to have it vent front. I remember my old fridge, the cab above it took some extra beating for getting the warm air 24x7, I'd hate to think if venting front, what it's doing to me nice SS door. Probly being O.C.D. Oh, I aimed my IR gun at it and the back is 3 degree warmer than the front so I assume it vents the back.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:59PM
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marti8a

Mine has a bottom front vent, but on top it gets really hot. It's a Whirlpool. I put something in a plastic bag on it one time and the plastic bag melted to the top. I didn't realize there were any refrigerators that didn't get hot on top. I thought that was normal.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 9:50PM
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macybaby

I didn't have time to post this earlier, here is my free standing range long before the cabinets were built in place.
(like two years ago).

I have always used the top for storage and never had anything melt or get all that warm. I did check out the specs pretty closely before we built the recess to house the refrigerator. It would not have broke my heart if I could have come up with an excuse to get a new one LOL!!

Cathy

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:16PM
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morgne

Bobb, I must have had my head in the sand at some point! I've never even heard of a rear venting fridge!!! I gotta know what brand you have.

Marti, Hot enought to melt plastic? That's pretty extreme. I've never heard of them getting that hot under just normal function. How old is it?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:56PM
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marti8a

We bought it in 2002. The plastic wasn't reduced to a puddle, just stuck tight to the top of the fridge like contact paper. I think I have an indoor & an oven thermometer, I could probably see how hot it gets.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 12:34AM
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buehl

I don't think it's normal for any refrigerator to get so hot on top that plastic melts & sticks to the refrigerator.

What is the model #? Do you still have your manual? If so, what does it say?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 12:49AM
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morgne

Man. I wish I knew what was causing that.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 12:50AM
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ccoombs1

Melts plastic?? That really sounds like something is wrong with it. That could possibly be a fire hazard?? I seriously would check with the mfg on that. Contact them directly and ask them how hot the top should be. That really does not sound right.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 9:31AM
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florantha

On a slightly different tack regarding regular refrigerators and cabinetry, we have a 30-inch one that we were forced to buy in an emergency last year. It's just fine for our needs, so we're not replacing it in new kitchen. I am assuming we will replace it once at least before I have to leave the kitchen, so we've decided not to build a surround for it. What options do you use for suitable pieces at the refrig., esp. above the unit? open shelving, perhaps? Could this be used for a refrig that has heat accumulating at top?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:34AM
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needsometips08

Interesting about the heat. When I was painting the ceiling and high areas around the fridge, I used the fridge for a shelf. Same thing when we were putting up the canned lighting, even leaning my elbows or body over the top. I never noticed the top being hot at all.

I touched it just now and it's cold. Hmmm...

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 2:10PM
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bobb_2010

It's not the physical top per se, it's the heat rising up, typically from the rear, then curving around your cabs on top and hitting whatever is sitting on top of the fridge.

Now newer fridges which supposedly are more energy efficient, may also generate less heat than your grandma's.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 2:49PM
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