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Contractor installed unlevel floor and fridge is crooked - how to fix?

1279 Views 19 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  jeffnc
Hi, we're nearing the end of a kitchen remodel, and the tile contractor didn't make sure the floor was level. It dips from left to right under the refrigerator (the cabinet box, itself, is level and plumb). This causes the fridge to sit crooked in the 36" cabinet box, so much that it can barely be pushed in. There are no leveling legs on the rear of the fridge, only the front. Raising the right front of the fridge throws the doors out of alignment, and the fridge is still crooked. If the right front were raised further, the door alignment would be worse. The right rear of the fridge also needs to be raised, so that the whole fridge is truly level. Or the floor needs to be leveled. The problem is that cabinetry has already been installed on top of it.

The contractor is currently discussing with his tile guy what to do. He initially proposed shims, but if we ever have to pull out the fridge for repair, we'll never be able to get those shims in place again. I asked if there's a way to modify the porcelain tiles under the fridge, possibly by replacing and raising the tiles on the right side.

I'm attaching photos of the fridge in the cabinet, with the right front raised up. Even with that, on the left side, there's a 3/8" gap at the top and it's tight against the molding on the bottom; on the right side, it's tight against the top with a 3/8" gap at the bottom; and the right door is higher than the left (the leveling legs move the doors, and there is no separate door adjustment).

Thanks for any suggestions you may have about the best way to fix this.

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Your paying for this abuse?

Wash your hands and stop paying the guy, convince the contractor that this is not what you paid for. He fixes the issue so your refergerator can be moved in and out like everyone else's on the planet. After he comes up with a solution then you and yours determine if it is acceptable.
 

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He fixes the issue
Maybe. Did the contract include levelling the existing floor? If the new tile are installed properly with good joints and no lippage, might not be his problem.

I agree with neal and sps ... roll it out, add shims to the back corner. Not a big deal. A 12x12 piece of 1/4” ply with the front edge sanded to a bevel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Your paying for this abuse?

Wash your hands and stop paying the guy, convince the contractor that this is not what you paid for. He fixes the issue so your refergerator can be moved in and out like everyone else's on the planet. After he comes up with a solution then you and yours determine if it is acceptable.
This contractor and his crew have done 2 remodeling jobs for us before (bathroom and family room with built-ins), and have done good work. I also like him, he's honest and charges reasonable prices. This was unfortunate. Ideally the floor under the fridge could be leveled somehow, but if shims are the most feasible solution, then they just need to be done in a way that will allow us to easily move the fridge out and put it back again, maybe something along the lines of what Half-Fast Eddie suggested.

Thank you all for your replies so far. I really appreciate them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Maybe. Did the contract include levelling the existing floor? If the new tile are installed properly with good joints and no lippage, might not be his problem.

I agree with neal and sps ... roll it out, add shims to the back corner. Not a big deal. A 12x12 piece of 1/4” ply with the front edge sanded to a bevel.
It wasn't specifically discussed, but this was a remodel down to the studs with a new subfloor, and he used leveling compound. They also built us a new custom cabinet box for the fridge, so it would be important to make sure the floor is level. Now that it's done, I just want to figure out the best way to fix it. I wasn't happy with the contractor's suggestion of shims, but if they can be done in a way that shims don't move and we can pull the fridge out and put it back in without a problem, it might be ok. Thanks for the suggestion.
 

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We see this all the time any more. Particularly on brick floors. I don’t know what it is about ceramic tile but we see it a lot where the tile drops down the closer you get to the wall only in the recessed areas though. Usually near the open walls they are level. With the new refrigerators being built out of as thin metal as possible your problem is exactly what happens. The 1/4 plywood works perfect for this problem. When you push the refrigerator back in it will hold the plywood in place. It’s rare there are back legs on any refrigerators except the higher end models. If it’s low on both sides in the back run the plywood all the way across. You can finalize with a front adjustment if necessary.

With all that said if you get the tiles leveled you won’t have any issues at all see if your contractor will work it out for you. Just know in the back of your mind you can correct it if need be. As soon as you mention this to him I doubt he will fix your floors though. If enough homeowners correct him that same problem won’t keep happening. You won’t see the plywood if you go that route. It will take a little extra push any time you want to push the refrigerator back in though. Good luck
 

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Easy button is to just get a few pieces of vinyl tile or sheet. Cut as many pieces as it takes to stack up the rear "foot" to level/plumb the fridge in the back; adjust the front feet as necessary to match.

"Feet" at rear are usually rollers—not sure how easily adjustable they may be—because the adjustable feet are usually at the front where they're accessible for adjustment.
 

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2nd shim idea. Since I always have some cedar shims, I used some wide pieces to create relatively smooth ramp. Shims need to be nailed down so they don't slip or use double side tape. Looks like you'll need at most 3/8. The way gaps look on right and left, the cabinet may not have equal sides.
 

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Shims can be glued down with Loctite pl Premium right onto the tiles. Shim will never move.

To save tube a long time, wrap end with tape and put tube into freezer.

While a shim might work, you dont want fridge rolling forward, so ideally the shim allows fridge to ride up to a flat and level surface. Make a small flat level surface, then attach a ramp in front of the shim. And other thing, is fridge only leaning at the back or also at the front? Fridge needs to sit flat and level front and back just like a cabinet or or anything else.

And the fridge wheels on each whole side might be adjustable up and down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Our contractor installed a large shim in the rear, right and glued it to the floor. It's working well enough. We also discovered the refrigerator cabinet/box is weak, so that if one person pushes at the top, it can be made square to fit into the opening, and then once it reaches the shim, it stays square inside. Thanks for all your helpful suggestions.
 

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A good tile man should be able to remove the tiles under the refrigerator and put tiles back in with slightly more grout under them to ensure that there they level service for the refrigerator to set on.
Other than the fact that you said grout when you meant thinset, this is the best solution that is not a hack, and it's pretty easy too. It's not like anyone is going to be looking at that tile. It doesn't technically even need to be grouted, even though I still would. It's not much harder than creating shims, and it's a much more permanent solution.
 

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We don't need to level the entire kitchen, we only need to level the area under the refrigerator. And we don't need to take the tile setter by the neck, we simply need to ask him to do another job, and presumably pay him extra for it, which the contractor can cover. It's like a 1-2 hour job, how much is it really going to cost?
 

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Reading msradell's post, sorry about the harsh words. But I don't get that kind of repair vs. shimming. Since it's out of sight, why go to that length for illusion of permanence? I have no doubt that the tile setter missed it, hook or crook:), but simple shimming is classic repair in millions of houses.:)
 

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Did you actually check both the walls and floor for level? I would just for info purposes pull out frig and check both the walls and floor for level/plumb. It could be just one tile in rear a little off or the walls themselves could be off. In the end I would take the advice and shim rear unless it is just one tile or two and easily removed and replaced.
 

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"Illusion of permanance"? This is nonsense. Being out of sight isn't the point. The point is that
a) you're actually getting the floor right without doing hacks
b) it's about as easy as tile repair gets
c) it actually is permanent

Being out of sight means the tile job is even faster because you don't have to get it perfect visually. The tile IS the shim - and it's never going to move. And you don't have to guess at shim sizes. You put in some thinset and press the tile down until it's measured flat with a level.
 
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