Fix broken refrigerator shelves (probably works on other plastic stuff too…)

Picture of Fix broken refrigerator shelves (probably works on other plastic stuff too…)
After one too many slams of our fridge door (1,000 thanks to our resident 12 year old boy) two of the shelves in the door cracked in enough places that they were beginning to sag under the weight of the contents. Neither wanting to pay the $50+ replacement cost nor wanting to clutter up the landfill with more plastic, I set about repairing them.
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Step 1: Tools and Materials needed

Picture of Tools and Materials needed
You will need:
-Zip ties (it's best to match the colour of the plastic for aesthetic reasons)

You will need:
-Some sort of rotary tool, a Dremel works very well
-A drill bit that corresponds to the size of your zip ties, I used an 1/8 twist bit
-A snipping tool. I like dog toenail clippers but scissors work well.

Step 2: Drill stop cracks

Picture of Drill stop cracks
Begin by identifying where all of the cracks are as the first thing we are going to do is drill stop cracks. Depending on any and all fears of flying you may have, you may not wish to read the next sentence. Stop cracks are routinely used in aircraft structural maintenance. Cracks are very difficult to stop once they begin and the best method, other than replacement, is to drill a stop crack. So, find all of the cracks and drill a hole that begins just at the edge of the crack and extends past it.

Step 3: Drill holes on load bearing parts

Picture of Drill holes on load bearing parts
Now, if the crack was through a piece of plastic that is load-bearing, you're going to need to support the crack with a zip tie. Drill a hole on each side of the crack about (about 6mm) away from the crack. You'll need to do this wherever you drilled a stop crack.

Step 4: Zip tie until you drop!

Picture of Zip tie until you drop!
After all of your stop cracks are drilled and you've drilled holes on either side of cracks through all load bearing parts, you're ready to get jiggy with zip ties.

Pass one end of the zip tie through one hole and then through the hole on the other side of the crack.
lemonie6 years ago
I like the repair idea, knowing how these things break it's hard to fix them. Had you thought about a quick flame on the drill holes to smooth and toughen? I see these as the next obvious place for future mechanical failure. L
longjon76 (author)  lemonie6 years ago
I didn't think about that but I will definitely give it a shot if the repair doesn't hold up. I plan on pulling the shelves out in a few weeks to see how the repair is doing. If there are cracks forming then, I'll do that.