Help with overlay panels on my Sub Zero!

MegamuffinApril 24, 2012

My contractors installed my Sub Zero a few months ago. It is a built-in 36 inch fridge/freezer unit. We put full overlay panels on it, to match the rest of my cabinetry. But what I can't figure out is am I supposed to be able to see into the compressor unit from the side? There is at least an inch between the cleats and the metal frame that is behind the panel and I can look all the way into the unit. My contractor was out today and he is talking about widening the box and pushing the fridge back, so that the cleats no longer butt up against the frame. This might solve the problem of being able to see inside the compressor, but I'm wondering if we are missing something else?

Thanks SO much to anyone who can offer some tips. I would also LOVE to see your pictures of how your paneled SZ looks from the side.

I am new to doing this - hope I did it right! Lighting is tough but I think you can see the hinges and internal workings...

another view

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thats how mine looks too, though mine is 8 years old, i thought they would have improved that by now. Well, they have if you buy the truly built in one for several more thousand, I guess.

I bet it has something to do with "breathing" but i would look at your installation manual before you let anyonte do anything to it. You dont want them to cover that gap if it truly needs to breathe. Plus if he makes the opening bigger then your cabinet on top will not fit. Be careful not to void your warranty.

Really, you are probably the only one who notices, anyone looking at it dead on will not see a thing

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 12:49PM
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Mine is a GE Monogram and I was also distressed when I saw that gap in the top panel.

It doesn't bug me AS much now that we have been in here a month, and we have a galley kitchen with no where to expand,(thus the built-in), so I see nothing but the profile view when I enter.

I think pence is right, I seem to be the only one who notices, and mine is in perpetual profile. Each day it bugs me a little less. A little, but I'll take it.

Your kitchen looks lovely :)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 1:15PM
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That looks correct for the built in model. This could have been installed the "flush inset" way, but it would require a larger cabinet above, and bigger overlay panels. The built in trim would rest on cleats and set the whole unit back into the cabinetry. More planning with your cabinet person and installer

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 1:36PM
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It doesn't look right to me. My SZ was just installed today (about 40 minutes ago!). It sits back into the cabinet. It doesn't have its panels on yet but I can show you pictures of what it looks like now. It doesn't stick out of the cabinet at all.

Even if yours doesn't sit flush with the cabinet, I don't think you should have that gap between the frame of the fridge and your cabinet. You shouldn't be able to see the compressor like that. I'd let your contractor work on the cabinet. It obviously bothers you and after a couple of months that probably isn't going to change. Glad your contractor is willing to work to make it better.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 1:58PM
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This doesn't look right to me, either. My 36" over/under SZ, now
21 years old, sits flush against the wood frame behind. There
isn't a gap of any kind.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 2:25PM
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Thanks to all who responded (seriously, you have no idea how grateful I am that a handful of strangers are helping me out!) Poohpup - great pictures and they couldn't have come at a better time. My cleats are butting up against the face of the box; yours go into the box and butt up against another piece of wood there. That is what I think it is supposed to look like in a perfect world. I am going to forward those to my contractor.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 2:36PM
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Poohpups has the correct installation for this type of unit. All the BI SZ models I have seen with overlay fit like that. Good luck getting it fixed. Personally what you have would drive me nutty.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 4:34PM
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Mine has been in for almost 7 yrs and it was installed correctly.

It does look like yours but I don't see the "guts" that I can see through your opening.

Mine sticks out about the same amount as yours I would say. About the right amount for a built in I would say.

That panel comes off so that you can "dust off" your coils every few months with a long skinny brush. See what it looks like behind there. Before you use the coill brush, super glue the tip on. If the tip comes off and the brush damages the machine it will void your warranty. At least that's what I was told.

Call SZ.

They have terrific customer service.

The number is in the back of your appliance manual.

Here's mine.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 6:04PM
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The sz installation instructions are very specific and must be followed precisely. If you no longer have them, they are available online. I spent a lot of time looking at sz installations in kitchen displays before I purchased and not one ever looked like that. A contractor who left it that way is not sufficiently skilled (or can't read and follow instructions) and I would try someone else.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 8:41PM
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It is confusing. The installation instructions clearly say to make the box 35.5" wide when the fridge is 36" wide. This would prevent it from being inset like PoohPup's fridge. I think maybe Pooh's fridge, while having overlay cabinetry is the flush inset installation. I dunno. This whole thing is driving me crazy! I am going to call SubZero tomorrow and see if I can get anywhere. At the very least, like someone pointed out, my contractor just wants us to be happy. We can move it back (he said we can take a bit out of the back wall if necessary). But I want to be sure I know EXACTLY what I am looking for and what I want.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 8:44PM
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Repeating what others have said, SubZero has very specific specifications for flush inset.
(It looks like poohpup has flush inset.)
The opening needs to be 38" wide (if I remember correctly) and a bit deeper.
We did a flush inset installation,
using stainless panels instead of cabinet fronts. The fridge is completely flush.

Sorry I don't have a close up picture:

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 9:24PM
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Megamuffin, if it helps at all, I have a couple of pictures of my fridge when it was in the store. I purchased a floor model. You can see how it was installed with the cabinets flush with the door panels. That's exactly how it should look when the door panels are installed now that it's in my kitchen.

Way back when we were in the planning stages, I discussed wanting my fridge installed so that the panels with flush with the cabinets. I assumed that was the only way to install it but I wanted to make sure the GC understood what I wanted. It sounds like there are two different ways to install a BI SZ? If you don't have the room to do a flush install now that your kitchen is done, I think your GC should at least address the issue that you can see the compressor from the side. That just doesn't look right.

Please take a deep breath and look back at the pictures of your gorgeous kitchen and all the great comments that people left. Right now this issue is under the microscope. If your GC is only able to correct that one issue so you no longer can see behind the fridge, you will still have a really beautiful kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 9:49PM
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Built in and flush inset are different installation types using the same fridge. You have the typical built in installation. While your grill may need a slight adjustment, since the door panel on it and the door panel below seem to be in line it is more than likely installed correctly. Try flipping the grill up and closing again to see if it nests in a little tighter this time.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 10:13PM
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Thanks guys! I do love my kitchen and certainly don't want to dwell on this. I just didn't know if I was missing an easy fix, or if there had been a mistake, or if this was just how it was! Thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 10:25PM
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There are three different ways to install Built in Subzero refrigerators with panels plus stainless doors.

They are:
1. Framed
2. Overlay
3. Flush Inset

The Fully Integrated models are completely different from the BI (built in) models.

There are spelled out on the following document.

This is what a good designer is supposed to be able to do for you; keep up with the industry as things change. The flush inset is a relatively new installation method for SZ. I would say that you need to take it up with the KD and not the GC. I would not expect the GC to be able to keep up with these minor changes.
Did you have a KD? My KD was very clear about the difference between integrated and BI refrigerators. I would have the KD look at the installation. I also suggest that you visit the local show rooms that have "overlay" installation and look.

Here is a link that might be useful: this is the document

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 10:25PM
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Mega muffin-glad you started this thread because I learned something new today. Since my house was built, you can now do a built in in flush inset. Awesome. Glad there are more up to date people here than me.

Francoise- your kitchen is beautiful. Do you have more pics of your banquette?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 10:14AM
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Thanks for this thread. I'm designing my kitchen right now and I want the panels as I'm tired of cleaning the stainless on my current refrigerator. I want it flush and will have my cabinets designed deep enough to accommodate it. How do you like the sub zero otherwise? It seems reviews are mixed.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 6:20AM
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Sorry I have no pictures, but I had my Sub Zero installed in 2005- completely flush, no gaps. The OP's picture does not look right, it would drive me crazy to see that gap every day! I LOVE my Sub Zero, absolutely no issue in seven years, my food stays fresh and I am a happy camper. Well, WAS one, since we recently sold the house that was hosting my beautiful appliances... sigh...

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 7:00AM
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The following link has much better details on grilles than the standard, over-simplified instructions. There is more to an installation than the usual instructions indicate.

Here is a link that might be useful: Extended Grille Instructions

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 9:51PM
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