Replacing Water Fittings for F&P Integrated French Door Refrigerator

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Gtown homeowner

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Good afternoon plumbing experts -

** REWARD - I will Venmo $50 to the first person who can come up with a solution that our builder and condo owners agree is best! **

I recently purchased a new condominium in Brooklyn that has an integrated refrigerator and cabinetry (Fisher & Paykel Model No. RS32A72J1). Twenty-two (22) units in our newly constructed building have the exact same setup. While one unit owner was out of town for the holidays, a spontaneous leak emerged in their kitchen and caused water damage to their unit, as well as the one below them (residents were also out of town) and into the unit two floors below (where the owners were home and discovered the leak). Serious problem! After some investigation, we learned the leak resulted from a kink/crease that had developed in the 1/4" (6mm) plastic tubing that connects the pressure limiting valve (PLV) on the front underside of the F&P refrigerator to the water connection valve recessed inside the wall behind the refrigerator. In this owner's unit, we also found that the builder "improvised" a solution behind the fridge so the plastic hose would be recessed into the wall. Setting aside the poor quality of the workmanship, or the safety issue of running the water line next to the power cord (Yikes! Code violations?), the plastic hose is not allowed a proper bend radius at the valve. That causes stress to the plastic tubing and eventually a leak. Lots of issues here for the builder to fix. And unit owners are rightfully concerned that there may be similar sub-standard carpentry/plumbing/electric hidden behind their own refrigerator wall units. There is no telling when the next plastic hose failure could happen again. The condo board wants to come up with a solution that the builder can implement for all units.

4C refrigerator hookup.jpg


One week after the refrigerator hose leak developed in the first unit, a similar leak developed in my own unit. Fortunately I was home, and the leak started slowly. Only a small amount of water leaked onto the floor and was easily mopped up. When the plumber arrived and pulled the refrigerator, we found that the carpentry for the recessed water hookup seemed to be finished more professionally.

IMG_3964.jpeg


Like others, our refrigerator was screwed into a wall unit and hadn't been moved since its initial installation. However, the plastic tubing (that had been taped to the back of the refrigerator in our unit) had somehow become creased and developed a pinhole leak. Again, without any warning or moving of the appliance. This could be a latent defect behind other refrigerators in our building. And if a unit owner's refrigerator ever needs service, the act of pulling the appliance out of the wall unit and fitting it back into place risks damage to the tubing and eventual leaks.

5D kinked refrigerator hose.jpeg


The length of plastic tubing shipped with the F&P refrigerator is quite long (probably 7 or 8 feet) so the appliance can be pulled out from the wall unit for service. And the PLV hookup is located all the way in the front of refrigerator, meaning the tube has to reach even further beneath the fridge. However, the plastic tubing is prone to developing a kink/crease (and eventually a leak) because a significant length of tubing has to fit behind or underneath the refrigerator when it is pushed back against the wall and screwed into the wall unit. This certainly makes you wish for a simpler kitchen design!

Our building is in the initial year warranty period, and we are working with the builder and their plumbing subcontractor to come up with a repair and pro-active fix to reduce the risk of further water hose failures in other units. Ideally, we would like to replace the 1/4 inch plastic hose with something more robust (like braided stainless steel hose), but (1) the hose would need to be quite long (more than 6 feet) to accommodate the built-in fridge and to reach the connection point at the front of the appliance; (2) the hose would need to make a sharp bend at the wall (or a special fitting designed for the tight s pace); and (3) there is limited space to stow the coiled length of hose when the refrigerator is pushed back into the wall unit.

Questions:

1.
Despite these design challenges, should owners be insisting that braided stainless steel hose be used for the repair? Something other than plastic tubing? I note that an 1/4" brass adaptor (for connecting a braided stainless hose to the PLV) is an optional part that was shipped with the refrigerator.

F&P adaptor.jpeg


2. If the plastic tubing must be used, can anyone advise on a better solution for managing the length of hose/tubing stowed behind the refrigerator rather than taping it to the back of the appliance and hoping for the best? Is there some way to reinforce the plastic tubing so it won't kink or to ensure it coils properly?

3. Are there any "best practices" that professional plumbers would recommend for this type of installation?

I appreciate everyone's time and knowledge in helping our condominium come up with a solution. As mentioned above, I'm willing to pay $50 for an answer or virtual consultation that results in a solution that we decide to use. I realize that your time and professional skills/knowledge are worth much more, but the reward is really just a fun way to promote discussion. We need to solve this problem quickly, before another leak (and potential catastrophe) happens again.

Thank you so much!

(former Gtown homeowner)
 

Tuttles Revenge

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We install a shut off valve in a cabinet next to or near the refrigerator that controls the water supply to the box hook up behind the refrigerator. I angle my outlet to point to the stud where its mounted so that the supply tube can be secured to the wall as a strain relief or downto the floor/bottom plate to be secured there and avoid that tubing needing to be run in the sheet rock. In condos we install a flood stop device that shuts off the flow of water if the sensor placed under the fridge get wet reducing the amount of water that can leak out.
 

John Gayewski

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One of these per unit will solve the problem. https://www.lowes.com/pd/EASTMAN-10...l_3qHQ6Z9rtzn6CNKmxoCZG8QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds


They are a common failure point. But they really only fail to give you water which means it's gone bad and needs changed out. They don't fail in a way that causes leaks.

They are about 20 times more expensive per refrigerator, which is why the builder didn't use them. But that's always a losing bet eventually. The company I work for had this happen in a hotel under a lavatory. Someone cut the supplied plastic tubes and put their own ferrule on, in its place. Ended up shutting down a portion of the hotel, fixing drywall, and repaying the hotel for lost business.
 

Reach4

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I am not a pro. My comments are not based on experience.

I am concerned about the drywall removal for fireproofing purposes.

Soft copper will be more resistant to the kinking and breaking than the plastic. I understand the plastic tubing came with the fridge. Also, that looks more limp than the translucent plastic tubing that is usually used.

Putting the boxes in with the valve rotated about 45 to 60 degrees clockwise when viewed from the top could reduce stress.
 

Gtown homeowner

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We install a shut off valve in a cabinet next to or near the refrigerator that controls the water supply to the box hook up behind the refrigerator. I angle my outlet to point to the stud where its mounted so that the supply tube can be secured to the wall as a strain relief or downto the floor/bottom plate to be secured there and avoid that tubing needing to be run in the sheet rock. In condos we install a flood stop device that shuts off the flow of water if the sensor placed under the fridge get wet reducing the amount of water that can leak out.
Thanks for your quick reply! The FloodStop device really sounds promising. It would allow us to continue using the water hose that was shipped with the refrigerator (easy fix), and immediately shut off the water if a leak is detected (effective fix). The braided stainless hose that another commenter recommends (h/t to John G.) was our initial idea, but we don't think there's sufficient amount of space to stow the excess length of thicker hose and it won't let you flush mount the refrigerator with the wall unit. I'll need to discuss with others before we decide how to proceed.
 

John Gayewski

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Thanks for your quick reply! The FloodStop device really sounds promising. It would allow us to continue using the water hose that was shipped with the refrigerator (easy fix), and immediately shut off the water if a leak is detected (effective fix). The braided stainless hose that another commenter recommends (h/t to John G.) was our initial idea, but we don't think there's sufficient amount of space to stow the excess length of thicker hose and it won't let you flush mount the refrigerator with the wall unit. I'll need to discuss with others before we decide how to proceed.
They come in different lengths. They are the only supply tube that is flexible enough to be able to move the fridge in and out without worry. Even a copper tube which is much stronger could get kinked and break.

What you need to do is figure out a length that can be doubled back from a higher elevation. I've never understood why outlets for refrigerators weren't mandated by code to be higher off of the floor. That way excess cord or hose is left up high and can't be rolled over by the wheels of the fridge. Basically install two hooks up high and loop the supply hoses over them. Then go straight to the fridge supply. Then when the frige is pulled out of the cubby the hoses are dangling from above and none is on the floor.
 

Gtown homeowner

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They come in different lengths. They are the only supply tube that is flexible enough to be able to move the fridge in and out without worry. Even a copper tube which is much stronger could get kinked and break.

What you need to do is figure out a length that can be doubled back from a higher elevation. I've never understood why outlets for refrigerators weren't mandated by code to be higher off of the floor. That way excess cord or hose is left up high and can't be rolled over by the wheels of the fridge. Basically install two hooks up high and loop the supply hoses over them. Then go straight to the fridge supply. Then when the frige is pulled out of the cubby the hoses are dangling from above and none is on the floor.
Thanks for your suggestions, John. I would strongly prefer braided stainless hose over tiny plastic tubing, but don't think "double back from a higher elevation" will work for us or I don't understand the solution you are proposing. In our case, the hose connection to the refrigerator is at the bottom, and all the way at the front of the fridge. Having the water valve located on the back wall close to the floor makes total the hose length much more manageable, though it is still more than 6 feet to allow access because of the built-in installation. If the hose could be drawn upwards (behind the fridge and flat against the back) when the appliance is pushed back into the cubby, that might be a solution but it seems a little tricky to implement. Again, I'm not certain there's room for a braided stainless hose if it can't fit underneath and has to bunch up at all behind the fridge. The front refrigerator needs to stay even with flush mount cabinetry.
 

John Gayewski

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Thanks for your suggestions, John. I would strongly prefer braided stainless hose over tiny plastic tubing, but don't think "double back from a higher elevation" will work for us or I don't understand the solution you are proposing. In our case, the hose connection to the refrigerator is at the bottom, and all the way at the front of the fridge. Having the water valve located on the back wall close to the floor makes total the hose length much more manageable, though it is still more than 6 feet to allow access because of the built-in installation. If the hose could be drawn upwards (behind the fridge and flat against the back) when the appliance is pushed back into the cubby, that might be a solution but it seems a little tricky to implement. Again, I'm not certain there's room for a braided stainless hose if it can't fit underneath and has to bunch up at all behind the fridge. The front refrigerator needs to stay even with flush mount cabinetry.
Drawn upward against the back wall is the suggestion. Two hooks will allow the length to be fitted perfectly.

Keep checking someone may have a better solution. But this one works well.
 

Jeff H Young

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I am not a pro. My comments are not based on experience.

I am concerned about the drywall removal for fireproofing purposes.

Soft copper will be more resistant to the kinking and breaking than the plastic. I understand the plastic tubing came with the fridge. Also, that looks more limp than the translucent plastic tubing that is usually used.

Putting the boxes in with the valve rotated about 45 to 60 degrees clockwise when viewed from the top could reduce stress.
Really like the Idea of rotating the valve on an angle Been doing it over 20 years almost no one does it that way and Ive been talked to about why is my valve crooked . allows for a tight fit to wall.
 

hj

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A female x male compression 90 screwed on to the valve with the tubing fastened to the "male"end would work. I located one such fitting but it does not want to display here,
 
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