Whether you need to fit your refrigerator through a small doorway or you're throwing it away, you'll need to do what appliance delivery pros do every day: remove the doors. You'll also have to do this if you want to reverse the doors on your French door model. You seldom need to consult a manual for this because the process is the same for most models, but don't hesitate to look up the manual for your model if it has an icemaker or water dispenser and you can't find the water hoses and electrical cables. You shouldn't even have to do this, though, because they're usually in one of two places.
Getting Ready for Door Removal
Most modern refrigerators have a water dispenser, icemaker or both in one of the doors, and even if this isn't functioning, you have to disconnect the water line and electrical cable before you can get the door off. Before removing refrigerator doors with an ice maker, be sure to unplug the refrigerator, and if you see a water valve behind the refrigerator, it's a good idea to turn it off, although this isn't absolutely necessary.
The next step is to remove the front grille from the bottom of the appliance, which you can usually do by pulling. If you're undertaking a GE refrigerator door removal, you can do this with the doors closed, but for models from some manufacturers, such as Whirlpool, the doors have to be open and askew 90 degrees to the refrigerator body. The water line is behind the grille, and you disconnect it by pulling the supply hose out of the connector.
The electrical cable for the ice maker is sometimes next to the water line, and you disconnect it by pulling it apart. On some models, such as GE and Frigidaire, the cable runs underneath a cap on the top hinge. Unscrew and remove the cap and pull the connector apart.
Taking Off the Door
Once you've disconnected the water line and electrical cable and emptied the shelves in the door, you can remove the door. To do this, you unscrew and remove the hinge bracket on the top of the door. You'll need either a socket wrench, Allen wrench or Phillips screwdriver for this, depending on the model. There are usually three screws. Remove all of them and lift off the bracket, feeding the electrical cable through as you lift, if necessary.
You can now lift the door off the bottom pivot, but be careful because it's heavy, so you may want to get a helper. Whirlpool recommends putting a towel on the floor and laying it on the towel rather than leaning it against a wall. Remove the other door in the same way.
Refrigerator Door Removal Law
It's dangerous to abandon an old refrigerator that still has its doors because the potential of someone getting locked inside. California Penal Code Section 402b PC makes abandoning an old refrigerator a misdemeanor, and it could land you in jail for up to six months as well as costing you heavily in fines. Other states, New York among them, have similar laws.
Abandoning an old refrigerator isn't a cost-effective way to get rid of it because most states also require you to have the refrigerant professionally removed. If you're going to pay for this, you might as well pay a bit more (or, perhaps, even less) and have the appliance taken away by the people who deliver your new one.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.