Step 1: Buy a replacement switch and remove the trim panel
Photo 1: Remove the trim panel
Locate the detents in the trim panel. Slip a plastic putty knife up against the trim and wedge off the trim with a screwdriver or paint can opener.
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 a local appliance parts dealer or use the Internet ( 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.
Step 2: Replace the broken switch
Photo 2: Remove the microswitch
If your refrigerator water dispenser is not working, pull the snap retainers away from the switch and slide it off the pegs.
Photo 3: Replace the pegs
Drill out the pegs and replace them with two No. 4 x 1-1/4-in. machine screws. Slide the new switch onto the screws and tighten the nuts.
Photo 4: Install a new paddle
Remove the metal retainer plate (not shown). Replace the broken paddle with a new one. Reattach the water tube.
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).
Required Tools for this Project
Have the necessary tools for this DIY refrigerator water dispenser not working project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Drill bit set
- Drill/driver - cordless
- 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.
- 2 No. 4 machine screws – 1-1/4 in. long with nuts
- New switch