Refrigerators are one of the most used appliances in the house. Consider the number of times you open your refrigerator each day, from cooking meals to casually snacking. Now multiply that by the number of people in the house, each cooking or perusing the fridge every single day. Then there’s the occasional rough-housing or over-enthusiastic recipes that can put extra stress on your fridge handles.
Eventually, the handles of any refrigerator might become cracked or so loose that they simply have to be changed. The good news is that it’s easy to change the handles of your refrigerator and freezer if you have the know-how. It’s not obvious at first, which is why we’re here to help.
Usually, this is where we advise that you unplug the appliance and wear gloves. The good news is that this repair is unusually safe. There are no sharp metal edges or electrical components involved. This makes replacing your fridge handles a great place to start for someone learning DIY repair skills at home, and an easy repair when your handles break.
Gather Your Supplies
- Allen Wrenches
- Slot and Cross Screwdrivers
- Replacement Refrigerator Handles
The first step is to get together your supplies. For this repair, you will need a slot screwdriver, an Allen wrench set, and a Phillips head screwdriver. Depending on the make and model of your fridge, you may only need two out of three.
In addition, you will also need to order the correct handles to replace the broken handles. Check your refrigerator’s make and model to order the right replacement part-number for one or both handles.
Remove the Handle Caps
The trim of your fridge handles come in the form of handle caps. They hide the mounting screws and make your fridge both safer and more attractive for everyday use. You will need to remove these handle caps to remove and replace your refrigerator handles.
Fit Slot Screwdriver Under the Handle Caps
Take your slot (flat) screwdriver and slip it underneath the edge of the refrigerator handle caps. These are the trim at the top and bottom of each handle that hides the screws. There are often clips just under the plastic lip that need to be released and you may be able to feel them with the tip of the screwdriver.
Slide the screwdriver tip around the edge of the handle cap or trim. If you feel a stop, find the clip and press to release. If you don’t feel anything on the way around, there may not be a clip and you can move ahead.
Push Toward Top or Bottom of Fridge
Each trim should be pushed up or down based on which edge is closets. The top trim should be pushed up while the bottom trim should be pushed down. This will slide the trim back and reveal the mounting screws hidden underneath.
Set Handle Caps Aside
The trim should disconnect from the fridge. You will need to put it someplace safe so it can go back on after the handles are switched out.
Remove and Replace the Handles
The next step is to replace the handles now that you can access their mounting mechanism. The handles may fall away but many slide up or down out of tracks for a more secure fixture to the fridge door.
Remove the Mounting Screws
Choose the correct driver or Allen wrench for the mounting screws just revealed. Remove each screw from both handles that you intend to replace. This will loosen the handles and might cause them to fall when the last screw is removed.
Set the Screws Aside
Place the mounting screws next to the handle cap trim so that you can easily find them again when it’s time to reinstall.
Pull Handle from Door and Discard
The handles might fall directly away, but some fridge handles are designed to slide loose. Try pulling your fridge doors up or down, which should release them from the track. When you have removed the handles, you can throw them away or recycle them.
Align New Handles
Fit the new fridge and freezer handles into place, sliding or aligning as necessary so that the holes align with the holes in the fridge door.
Return Mounting Screws
Now retrieve those mounting screws and return them to secure the new handles in place. Tighten the screws just enough that they firmly resist turning, but do not over-tighten. Tightening too much can crack your new plastic handles.
Return the Trim
With the new handles installed, you’re ready to hide the tracks and mounting screws. You’ll need to slide the trim back onto the ends of each handle you replaced.
Align the Handle Caps Above and Below
Grab the cap trip that covers the handle mounting screws. Align them along the top and bottom of each handle, one at a time or together if you have friends with extra hands.
Slide Handle Caps Into Place
Slide each piece of trim into place to cap the handles. Push until they click if there were clips in the first place. If not, push until they feel firmly in settled in their grooves.
Test Your Success
With your work complete, it’s time to test the success of your repairs. Let’s see how well those new handles are installed. In most cases, everything should be perfect, as fridge handles are very straight-forward components to work with.
Push on the Handles
Grasp the handles firmly and wiggle it from side to side, then up and down. Make sure that the mounting screws are satisfactorily secure.
Open and Close the Fridge
The final test is to open and close your fridge a few times. Confirm those handles do what they’re suppsosed to without wobbling or coming away.
Tests complete, you can pat yourself on the back for a repair well-done. Whether this was your first appliance repair or your 500th, a job well done is always worth being proud of. Put away your tools and enjoy your newly functional refrigerator.