Reversing refrigerator doors
November 13, 2009 10:14 AM   Subscribe

I've volunteered to reverse the doors on the office fridge (i.e., change them so that they open from the right, instead of from the left). I know the basics of how to do this, but I don't want to look like an idiot in front of coworkers. Any tips, tricks, or things I should know before starting to loosen the screws?
posted by mudpuppie to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The best tip anyone ever gave me for doing small projects like this was, as things like screws and small parts are removed, place them down on a white towel so they don't run away, and place them down in a memorable, structured order (e.g. the part that goes with the last thing you did is on the farthest right, and so forth), so you can easily reverse the process if you need to.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:27 AM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

And the modern way is to take pics step by step with your camera phone so you can easily see how each one fits together.
posted by raisingsand at 10:28 AM on November 13, 2009

We did this in my old office and my coworker had it done in a jiffy, so it's probably not too complicated.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:30 AM on November 13, 2009

If it's a big fridge, you may need someone else to help hold the door up while you work on taking it off and putting it back on.

The exact steps will depend on the model of your fridge (and you might be able to look them up by finding the owners manual via a Google search of the model name), but in general it's just a matter of unscrewing everything on one side, and re-doing everything on the other side in a mirror image of how it was before.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:34 AM on November 13, 2009

I did this once in an apartment I rented. It seemed very easy, but I must not have hung the door back up properly, because afterwards the fridge could never get quite as cold as it used to. At the coldest setting milk would go south in about a week. I never fixed it, as I was about to move out and it didn't bug me very much (it was the perfect temperature for beer!) .

So I guess check the alignment of the door when you're done.
posted by exogenous at 10:34 AM on November 13, 2009

I know it's not complicated, and like I said, I know the basics. Maybe I should be more specific in what kind of tips I'm looking for -- I'm more concerned about the reassembly than the disassembly. When re-hanging the doors, is there anything specific I need to do to make sure that they seal, and that they hang with the proper alignment? Also, the screws on the handle aren't exposed (except for the screw that holds it at the top). Will it be obvious how to remove the handle?
posted by mudpuppie at 10:35 AM on November 13, 2009

So I guess check the alignment of the door when you're done.

A good way to check the seal is to close a small piece of paper (like a dollar bill) in the door. If the seal is good, it will stay there, and if the seal is bad, it will slide out.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:37 AM on November 13, 2009

ehow has an article on how to do this.
posted by Carol Anne at 10:37 AM on November 13, 2009

directions are probably in the manual. if you don't have the manual, it's probably available online somewhere. if you can't find the manual online, unscrew the handle screw and see if the handle comes off from there.
posted by rhizome at 10:38 AM on November 13, 2009

We did this to our fridge, and afterward had a hard time getting it to seal properly because all the seals were squished on the old hinge side and not the other. Weirdly, the problem was in the non-squished seals that were now in the hinge area of the door- we had to manually squish them and then tape them with electrical tape for awhile so the door would properly open and shut. I know that probably doesn't make much sense, and probably won't unless it happens to you- in which case, having electrical tape on hand is good.
Our fridge is a cheap piece of crap, though, so maybe you won't have this problem at all.

I think if you've got a digital camera it is also helpful to take pictures of important bits as you disassemble things. And if the door is heavy, it really helps to have an assistant at certain times.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:49 AM on November 13, 2009

Have you looked for a manual for the fridge online?
posted by Big_B at 10:56 AM on November 13, 2009

Thanks all, I know you're trying. I have the manual, so I have instructions. I have the basic skills. Was mostly looking for the things that they don't include in the manual -- such as, "when you're done, the door isn't going to close properly, so you'll need to _______." Sorry to have not written the question very well.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:18 AM on November 13, 2009

This is generally pretty easy. The fridge door generally is supported by two post hinges at top and bottom. Remove the top one from the frame (probably an allen wrench), and lift the door off the bottom peg.

Remove the bottom peg from the fridge frame and reinstall on the opposite side. Put the door on the bottom peg and, while a friend holds it for you, install the top peg and you're done.

You may have to move the fridge door handle, too. There should be mounting points for it on both sides as well.

Manual, Shmanual.
posted by Aquaman at 11:21 AM on November 13, 2009

You need a helper to hold the door in place, and level, bearing all the weight while you attach it.

Hanging doors (any kind: external, pantry, cupboard, fridge) is a pain: you don't want the thing hanging by a single screw or hinge at any point in your process, or it'll end up crooked or bent.

If you really have to do it alone, build some sort of thingie for the door to rest on, holding it at the right height while you work.
posted by rokusan at 1:15 PM on November 13, 2009

I did this solo a month or so ago. Using something like a phone book or two, to prop the door up, is a great idea. Once you start taking it apart (the hardest part for me was finding a TORX bit.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:57 PM on November 13, 2009

I did this last month. Make sure you don't, uh, have any parts left over after you finish. The door wouldn't seal and it was off because I'd left out a spacer in the bottom hinge.
posted by ostranenie at 2:00 PM on November 13, 2009

I'll second you'll need an extra pair of hands when it comes to aligning the door on re-install. Phone books and stuff are not as good because you want to be able to look from the end and say "up up down a little" (in my experience).

I also had (have) the squished seal problem -- the former hinge side bottom seal is flattened and won't spring back, though I am now going to try the oneirodynia technique. If the seal seems flattened it might be worth dealing with this while the door is off (depending what part of the door and how accessible the fridge is).
posted by Rumple at 2:39 PM on November 13, 2009

This is probably obvious (but I missed it when I did mine): take any food out of the door first, and put it in the main part of the fridge. The door will be lighter, the food will stay colder (and not fall out).
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:49 PM on November 13, 2009

If you have problems with the gasket (seal), it's a relatively inexpensive further fix to install a new one. The main problem is finding one the right size.
posted by dhartung at 2:57 PM on November 14, 2009

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