8 Steps to Consider When a Refrigerator Doesn’t Fit

Your kitchen remodel is now done and the new refrigerator has arrived only for it not to fit. This is one of the most dreadful situations that can happen.

No true solution to this problem is easy to implement. While some refrigerators aren’t the size they claim, some manufacturing faults might make you face this issue.

Bulging refrigerator walls based on improper transport can cause a refrigerator not to fit. This can be fixed by pressing the side of the panels back in and trying to push the fridge into its location.

Other common causes of a refrigerator that doesn’t fit can be categorized and fixed as follows.

  1. Check the floor with a level

A floor that isn’t level is one of the reasons why a refrigerator doesn’t fit. A leaned floor to the left or the right will keep the refrigerator standing, but leading to a side which prevents it from properly fitting.

You can check the levelness of a floor by using a level yourself. Make sure to check the floor in multiple locations both to the sides and back and forth to see if the fridge might be leaning forwards or backwards as well.

Fixing an angled floor is the cheapest fix for when a fridge just doesn’t want to fit. Small pieces of wood or other hard objects can raise the fridge in the right area. Fridge legs or refrigerator wheels can also help level it properly.

  • Check the fridge for bulges on the sides

Fridge panel bulges are common when it comes to improper transport. A panel might be bulging out even half an inch for the fridge not to fit. Make sure to use a level on all your fridge’s panels to see if these panels are sticking outwards and try to fix them.

Fixing these panels might not be possible. However, a simple pushing in with the palm should do the trick. If you can’t do this you’ll have to return the refrigerator.

  • Check the level of the top cabinet

If you have a small cabinet above the fridge you also need to see if its level. Kitchen remodeling should be pain-free but in many cases a cabinet leaning to the sides can prevent a refrigerator from properly fitting in.

If this theory is confirmed you’ll need to redo the top cabinet. The good news is this is a small cabinet which shouldn’t be too expensive to fix. Your cabinet merchant can even replace it for free if this is a remodeling under warranty.

  • Cut down the cabinets

If the refrigerator doesn’t fit to the sides it might be an issue of improperly fixed cabinets or a tight squeeze which hasn’t been properly calculated by the cabinet’s makers.

A standard 36” opening should fit a 36” refrigerator. The problem is that many 36” refrigerators are 36 1/8” which means they won’t fit if your space for it is exactly 36”.

  • Check cabinets for double walls

Continuing with the last point you might be in luck as many end panels of cabinets are double-walled. This means you could remove a wall to clear out 0.5 to 1” which will make your fridge fit.

Make sure you call in a carpenter or the merchant responsible for your cabinets so that don’t remove a panel that holds the entire cabinet together.

One of the best parts about this method is that it doesn’t require spending money or spending too much money.

  • Try a smaller fridge

If all else fails and you don’t like the idea of a full kitchen remodel you’ll need to get a smaller fridge. There’s good news and bad news here.

You can get a refrigerator that’s just a few inches narrower. For example, if a 36” fridge doesn’t fit you can get a 33” fridge. The problem is that you might have a visible gap of a few inches now which you need to fill. Still, a cabinet maker can find an elegant solution to close off the new gap which shouldn’t cost thousands of dollars.

  • Remodel (if you can)

In some cases its cheaper to replace on cabinet than to get a new fridge. For example, homebuilders which have delayed their installation past the refrigerator return date might not have another option but to remodel the kitchen partly.

You don’t need a full kitchen remodeling but to remove the closest cabinet to the refrigerator (left, right, or top) to have it trimmed down an inch or two for the refrigerator to fit.

  • Return the refrigerator

If all else fails and if you want to skip headaches you might want to return the refrigerator altogether. This is easy to do if you’ve just bought the fridge. You call the merchant and ask for a slightly smaller fridge.

Some merchants don’t inform clients that a refrigerator needs space to fully open its doors, which might also be the case in your situation. In this case, you simply ask for a refrigerator that doesn’t need side clearance for its doors to open.

Alternatively, you can consider a 1-door fridge instead of a 2-door fridge if this means your existing space can fit the new refrigerator. Sears is one of the (few) retailers offering exact fridge measurements for headache-free shopping.


A refrigerator that doesn’t fit is a considerable problem. However, the solutions above can sometimes be considered to fix the issue or to find a new fridge that fits.

One of the best methods to avoid such problems is to have your cabinets made to very specific measurement with a bit of room for error. This should be discussed with your cabinet seller or maker.

Alternatively, you can consider shopping around for replacement refrigerators that fit your space. However, you need to exactly measure your existing space before returning and replacing the old refrigerator to avoid having these issues again (learn all about space around refrigerators here). Don’t forget about using a level to check if measurements are as good as they should.

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