How to Repair a Cracked Refrigerator Shelf

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The shelves and drawers in your refrigerator are essential to fridge organization. The shelves define how tall your bottles can be, how high your food can stack, and how much you can store overall. Each of us has our own preferences for fridge shelf heights and configuration. But one thing is sure: you need the shelves in your fridge. So if one breaks, you’re in a bad spot.

What do you do when your refrigerator shelf cracks? Today, we’re here to help you replace, repair, or mend your shelf based on how you want to approach this problem. If your shelf is cracked, it can be re-sealed. If your shelf is broken, it can be mended. And if your shelf is too far gone, you can absolutely get a replacement. 

Replace the Shelf

The first option to cover is shelf replacement because it’s the fastest decision to make. Do you want to replace the shelf? If the shelf has shattered or broken into more than two pieces, then it may be more practical to order a replacement. If this happens, you have two options.

First, you can order a replacement part based on your refrigerator’s make and model. The price of a replacement shelf will vary depending on brand and availability.

Your second option is to measure the width of the shelf and the size of the tracks and make/buy a replacement shelf that fits. Fridge shelves are simple mechanical surfaces, so there’s no rule that says you can’t replace it with a similarly sized sterile surface that fits in the grooves. 

Repair a Cracked Shelf

If your refrigerator shelf is cracked but not fully separated, you’re in good shape. This is a fairly easy repair and most of the time will be waiting for the glue to dry. Here’s what you need:

Supplies

  • Bar Clamp
    • big enough to clamp the shelf together after gluing.
  • Clear, Strong Adhesive
    • Silicon sealant
    • Two-part epoxy
    • Superglue
  • Acetone and Rag
  • Toothpicks

– Remove and Wash the Shelf

Clear off the shelf and remove it from the refrigerator. Then carefully wash the shelf so that there is no old food, grime, or tape residue in the way of your repair. If you have used tape to hold the shelf together and there is tape residue after washing, use the acetone-soaked rag to clean the tape adhesive away.

– Separate the Edges

Gently pull the two edges of the shelf crack apart. For shelves that are still partly together, don’t pull the two halves directly apart. Instead, gently push one half of the crack downward while pulling the other half upward. This should very slightly expose the two edges of the crack as they pull apart.You can now use a very small item like a toothpick or pin to hold the two halves a tiny distance apart as you work.

– Apply Strong Clear Adhesive to Both Edges

Now that your edges are separated, use a toothpick to apply a thick layer of your clear, strong adhesive to both sides of the crack. Lay on the glue one stroke at a time, thick enough on both sides to adhere to the other half of the plastic crack.

– Clamp the Shelf Halves Together

Once the two halves of the crack are glued, remove the small stopper holding the two halves apart. Make sure the halves of the crack come together so that they are perfectly aligned and the sides nestle together.

– Clean Excess Glue with Acetone

Use your acetone-soaked rag now to wipe the top and bottom of the settled crack. This will clear away the excess glue that has inevitably oozed out from the crack in one direction or another. The acetone rag will keep your repaired shelf from having hardened glue spots or a ridge in the middle.

– Wait 2 Days

Now wait for the glue to set. The amount of time you wait will depend on the brand and amount of glue you used. However, if you want to be absolutely sure or don’t have the glue’s label on-hand, wait two days. Most adhesives tell you to wait 24 hours, so 48 hours is a sure bet for the glue being set.

Return Shelf to Refrigerator

Once you’re done waiting, test the strength of the shelf with your hand. Then, if it’s safe, return the shelf to your fridge and load it back up with groceries. 

Mend a Broken Shelf

If you have a refrigerator shelf that broke fully in half, you can actually repair it as long as the two halves of the crack still fit together perfectly. Mending a broken shelf will require all the same supplies plus one-inch steel bands that you will use to reinforce the shelf across the crack. It should still look fine on your shelf and maybe hidden if your shelves are opaque.

Supplies

  • Bar Clamp
    • big enough to clamp the shelf together after gluing.
  • Clear, Strong Adhesive
    • Silicon sealant
    • Two-part epoxy
    • Superglue
  • Acetone and Rag
  • Toothpicks
  • 2-4 1″ Steel Bands

– Wash the Shelf Halves

Start by washing both halves of the shelves. Clean off any old spills or food residue and make sure that the surface of both edge-halves are clean and ready for adhesive. You don’t want anything getting in the way of your silicon or epoxy bonding.

– Wipe with Acetone

Before you apply the glue, take your rag soaked in acetone and wipe down the two halves of the crack. This will dissolve and clear away anything that might get in the way of the adhesive bond. It will also help you clean away any residue from tape or glue you’ve used in previous repair attempts.

– Apply Adhesive to Both Edges

Working with one half of the shelf at a time, apply your adhesive thickly to both edges of the split crack. Because you can easily access the edge, you can use a toothpick or any other applicator that works for you. You may also be more easily able to lay a bead of adhesive with a caulking gun instead.

– Clamp Shelf Halves Together

Use a bar clamp to clamp both halves of the shelf together, perfectly aligned so that the shelf is flat and the thin crack is smoothly connected at every point. 

– Apply 1-inch Metal Plates Across Shelf

Now flip your shelf so that you are working with the underside. As the glue dries in the center, apply two to four one-inch steel bands to the underside of the shelf for additional support. You can apply these with screws if the plastic is soft or you can use the same adhesive you used to mend the crack.

– Clean Excess Glue with Acetone

Wipe down the ridge of glue from the crack with the acetone rag on both sides of your mend. Then wipe down the area around each steel band. This will prevent glue residue or a hard ridge in the center of your shelf when it is repaired.

– Wait 2 Days

As we mentioned earlier, two days is the safest waiting period if you’re not sure how long to wait based on the adhesive you chose.

– Return Shelf to Refrigerator

Now if your repair was successful, you can load your fridge shelf right back into the fridge and it can go back to supporting your milk and salad mix. 

—Congratulations! You have just learned how to repair your refrigerator shelf when it is sporting a large crack or broken in half. Contact us today for more appliance repair tips and guides!

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