Refrigerator Repair: Fix a Broken Water Dispenser Switch

Use ordinary hand tools and one hour and save $200.

Fix a refrigerator water dispenser quickly and easily with standard hand tools and a new switch. You can do it in an hour.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Step 1: Buy a replacement switch and remove the trim panel

So the kids were really thirsty and jammed their glass into the water dispenser on the refrigerator door. Now the paddle is hanging by a wire, and you’re seeing a $300 repair bill. No way! You can do this repair yourself with ordinary hand tools in about an hour. A replacement paddle/switch costs about $75. I’ll show you how to make the repair on a Whirlpool refrigerator. Repairs on other makes are similar.

Open the fridge door and write down the model and serial number of the fridge. Then contact a local appliance parts dealer or use the Internet (repairclinic.com is one online source for discounted parts) to buy a new switch and paddle.

Start by unplugging the refrigerator. Then remove the drip tray to expose the trim panel screws. If you don’t see any screws, unsnap the panel using a plastic putty knife and paint can opener (Photo 1). Lift the trim panel off the door.

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Step 2: Replace the broken switch

Next, remove the microswitch (Photo 2). The switch retaining pegs are usually broken, so replace them with screws (Photo 3). If the paddle is broken, first disconnect the water tube. Then remove the metal paddle retainer plate and swap in a new paddle (Photo 4).

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Drill/driver, cordless
  • Drill bit set
  • Paint can opener
  • Plastic putty knife

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • New switch
  • 2 No. 4 machine screws – 1-1/4 in. long with nuts