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Archive for December 23rd, 2009

Whirlpool Refrigerator Shelf: Drawer Slide Repair

Refrigerator shelf bracket - inside

Refrigerator shelf bracket - inside

The bottom glass shelf in our Whirlpool refrigerator (the “Crisper Cover”) rests on an elaborate plastic structure that includes slides for the two Crisper drawers. Perhaps we store far more veggies than they anticipated, we’re rough on our toys, or the drawer slides came out a whole lot weaker than the designers expected. I’m betting on the latter, but whatever the cause, the two outside slides broke some years ago.

I don’t know what function the rectangular hole above the flattened part of the slide might serve, but it acted as a stress raiser that fractured the column toward the front. With that end broken loose, another crack propagated toward the rear, so the entire front end of the slide drooped when the drawer slid forward.

The minimum FRU (Field Replacement Unit) is the entire plastic shelf assembly, a giant plastic thing that fills the entire bottom of the refrigerator. You could, of course, buy a whole new shelf assembly, perhaps from www.appliancepartspros.com, but it’s no longer available. Back when it was, I recall it being something on the far side of $100, which made what you see here look downright attractive.

My first attempt at a repair was an aluminum bracket epoxied to the outside of the slide, filling the rectangular opening with JB Industro-Weld epoxy to encourage things to stay put. The plastic cannot be solvent-bonded with anything in my armory, so I depended on epoxy’s griptivity to lock the aluminum into the shelf. That worked for maybe five years for the right side (shown above) and is still working fine on the left side.

Refrigerator shelf bracket - bottom

Refrigerator shelf bracket - bottom

The right-side bracket eventually broke loose, so I did what I should have done in the first place: screw the bracket to the shelf. Alas, my original bracket remained firmly bonded to the bottom part of the shelf and secured to the block of epoxy in the rectangular hole. Remember, the broken piece didn’t completely separate from the shelf.

So I cut another angle bracket to fit around the first, drilled holes in the shelf, transfer-punched the bracket, and match-drilled the holes. Some short(ened) stainless-steel screws and nuts held the new bracket in place and a few dabs of epoxy putty filled the gaps to make everything rigid.

That’s been working for the last few years. The refrigerator is going on 16 years with only one major repair (a jammed-open defrost switch), so I’ll call it good enough.

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