How to Fix Broken Refrigerator Drawers or Shelves
Refrigerator shelves are designed to hold a lot of weight. They get filled with beverages, fruits, and vegetables that can be bulky and heavy. This is exactly why the drawers and shelves in a refrigerator are made from a strong acrylic plastic material that can handle large amounts of weight. However, even the strongest acrylic isn’t indestructible and over time, sometimes a drawer or a shelf will experience a crack.
Damage can also happen to shelves in other ways. For instance, when you put a large head of lettuce and a jumbo cabbage head in one of the drawers, but one of the items rolls around, it can cause the drawer to get stuck. You might pull on the drawer to try to get it loosened, but this can create small hairline fractures in the material. Thankfully, there are ways to repair chips, cracks, and small holes in refrigerators’ shelves so you don’t need to buy new ones. Follow this guide to learn how to repair your refrigerator shelves and drawers.
How to Repair Cracks in Shelves and Drawers
If you have a small crack in one of the shelves in your refrigerator, it’s best to repair it. The longer you leave it to sit, the more of a chance there is that the crack will get larger. If it gets extremely bad, repairing the crack won’t really help. Instead, you’ll find yourself shopping for a replacement shelf. Repairing is less expensive and takes less time so it’s recommended that you go that route whenever possible.
- Remove the Shelf
The first step for a crack repair in a refrigerator shelf is to remove the shelf. Take out all the items found inside first and place them elsewhere in the refrigerator. Before you start repairing it, make sure you clean it thoroughly using water and dish detergent. Let it dry before you start to get into the repair process. If you have previously placed tape on the shelf to keep it in working order, the tape should first be removed. Use a cloth and some acetone to remove the adhesive that the tape has left behind. Wipe this off or wash the shelf again, let it dry, and then you can move forward with the repair process.
- Slightly Separate the Crack
If the crack is small and the shelf hasn’t broken in half, the next step is to gently separate the crack a small amount. You can do this by pulling one side up and the other side down at the edge of the shelf. For the best results, a tool can be used to keep things in the right position. A putty knife or a similar item will help keep the sides slightly separated while you handle the remainder of the repair. Make sure you only pull the crack apart a small amount. You want to avoid making the crack larger and more difficult to repair.
- Create a Glue Mixture
For a crack in a refrigerator shelf, you are going to want to work with epoxy glue. Take the two-part glue and mix it with an appropriate hardener. Once you’ve created enough of the mixture to spread over the entire crack, start to apply it to the crack with a toothpick. This should be done on both sides of the shelf to get the best results. After the epoxy has been placed, remove the putty knife, and allow each of the halves of the shelf to come together. You want to take your time at this point and make sure that the sides fit perfectly against each other. Once that’s finished, wipe off any extra glue from both the top and bottom of the shelf. Acetone can be helpful for this.
- Use Time and Pressure
The last step is all about time (and pressure). Take the shelf and place it into a bar clamp so that both sides of the shelf are tightly pressed against each other. Leave the shelf in the bar clamp overnight while the glue dries. Once you wake up, you can take the shelf out of the clamp. Test it and then place it back into the refrigerator for further use. It should be fine to place the items that were previously on the shelf back.
Handling Broken Drawers and Shelves
Sometimes your refrigerator shelves or drawers will have more than a small crack or hole that needs to be repaired. While you could replace your refrigerator drawers or shelves, that might not always be possible. In the meantime, there is a method for repairing the issue, although you might want to replace the component at some time in the future. We’ll talk more about that later in the article so you can make the right decision for your needs.
- Start Cleaning
It’s always a good idea to clean the broken part first using water and detergent to make sure you get the drawer or shelf shiny and clean. Take out the part after removing anything that is being stored in it. As before, if there is tape on the component, make sure to remove it before using acetone to remove the residue it leaves behind. Make sure both sides of the broken drawer are matching and there aren’t missing areas where pieces might have broken off.
- Mix and Apply Epoxy
Take the two-part epoxy and mix it with a hardener before you spread it along one of the broken pieces. Use a toothpick to spread it thoroughly before you press the two pieces together. Remove the extra glue from both sides of the drawer using acetone before you clamp the pieces together in a bar clamp. Leave the glue to dry overnight so it can regain its strength.
- Add Extra Reinforcement
After the first phase of glue has dried, you are going to have another gluing process to get through. Take one-inch metal plates and place them on the underside of the drawer or shelf to reinforce your initial repair. Use the same two-part epoxy as last time to ensure the small plates stay where you position them. You should have one plate on each side of the shelf along with at least one in the middle. The plates should be evenly placed along the crack for the best results.
- Take a Break
Once the epoxy is set over the plates, it needs to dry again. This will take several hours so step back and take a break while you allow things to progress. After a night of drying, you can take the newly repaired drawer or shelf and place it back into the refrigerator.
Preventing the Future Need for Repairs
In many cases, a repair is enough to keep a drawer or a shelf in good shape so you don’t have to replace it. However, there are some ways to prevent damage so fewer repairs are needed as the refrigerator ages. For instance, when you clean your refrigerator glides regularly, this can make your crisper drawer last longer since there is less friction occurring when you use the drawer.
Many of the vegetable drawers that come in modern refrigerators are off-center and can be pulled sideways when someone opens them. Keep them lubricated for the best results. Silicone spray and oil should be avoided for this purpose since they aren’t safe for consumption and you will have foods in these drawers. However, you can use plain white paraffin or beeswax as an alternative.
This is a simple process that you can do when you handle other refrigerator maintenance tasks. Take the beeswax or paraffin and rub it against the glide area on the bottom of the drawer. Then take a piece of cloth and polish the area until it turns shiny. This will ensure the drawer can be pulled out and pushed in much easier.
When to Replace a Shelf or Drawer
If a drawer is cracked or a shelf is damaged, it can often be repaired. However, if it has warped over time or has substantial damage, it may need to be replaced. The good news is that most of the vegetable bins for refrigerators are fairly inexpensive at under $40. However, repairs can work with small areas of damage. Keep in mind that repairs don’t always last forever, so you may still want to pay for a new shelf or drawer in the future. We hope we were able to answer all of your refrigerator drawer or shelving repair questions, if you need any additional tips please reach out to us at AppliancePartsPros.com. We are always happy to help!