How to Replace a Diffuser in a Side-by-Side Refrigerator



This DIY repair guide gives step-by-step instructions on how to replace the diffuser in a side-by-side refrigerator. The diffuser— also called an air damper—controls cold air flow from the freezer compartment to the refrigerator compartment. If the diffuser is stuck fully open, food in the refrigerator compartment freezers. If it's stuck closed, the refrigerator becomes too warm but the freezer stays cold. If the diffuser doesn't control the cold air flow correctly, replace it with the manufacturer-approved replacement part that fits your model.

This basic repair procedure works for many Kenmore, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, GE, Maytag, Amana, Frigidaire, Electrolux and LG side-by-side refrigerators.

Repair difficulty:
Time required:

Less than 60 min.

Parts Required

  • Refrigerator diffuser

For manuals, repair guides, and specific part recommendations, enter your model number.

Tools Required

  • 1/4" nut driver
  • Slot screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Safety gloves
  • Tape

Before you begin

Move highly perishable food to a cooler or other cooled space. The refrigerator will be without power for about 60 minutes, which shouldn't affect most refrigerated or frozen foods.

Wear work gloves to protect your hands.


 Warning: Undertaking repairs to appliances can be hazardous. Use the proper tools and safety equipment noted in the guide and follow all instructions. Don’t proceed until you’re confident that you understand all the steps and are capable of completing the repair. Some repairs should only be performed by a qualified technician.

Step 1: Shut off power and water to the refrigerator

Unplug the refrigerator or shut off the circuit breaker for the refrigerator.

Close the water supply cut-off valve for the water line attached to the back of the refrigerator. The valve is often on the wall behind the refrigerator but could be under the kitchen sink or in the basement below the refrigerator. 

Step 2: Remove the ice maker's front cover

Use tape to shut the flipper cover on the left wall in front of the  ice maker.

Open the plastic cover in front of the refrigerator ice maker. Slide the cover to the left and push up on the right side of the cover to release the plastic pin from the bracket. Use a slot screwdriver to pry the pin from the bracket, if necessary.

Pull off the cover and set it aside. 

Tape the flipper shut.

Step 3: Remove the wire harness cover

Using a 1/4" nut driver, remove the screw that's under the ice maker module, in the rear right corner. Pull off the cover that the screw held in place. Set the screw and cover aside.

Step 4: Remove the ice maker

Push in on the tab to the left of the ice maker to release the ice maker and slide the ice maker forward, off its rails. 

Use a slot screwdriver to release the locking tab on the wire harness plug and pull the wire harness out of the plug.

Remove the ice maker from the freezer compartment. Close the freezer door.

Step 5: Remove the air duct

Remove the screws from the air duct in the top of the freezer compartment—support the air duct as you remove the second screw so it doesn't fall.

Remove the air duct from the freezer compartment and set it aside.

 Tip: Removing the air duct give you access to locking tabs on the freezer side of the diffuser that you'll release in a later step.

Step 6: Remove the control housing

In the refrigerator compartment, remove the 2 mounting screws that hold the control housing in place—support the housing as you remove the second screw so the control housing doesn't fall and damage components. Lower the control housing slowly.

Step 7: Unplug the wire harness for the control housing

Using a slot screwdriver, release the locking tabs and then unplug the wire harness.  Because the connecting rod for the diffuser is still connected,  so you may be unable to pull the control assembly completely out of the refrigerator.

Disconnect the wire harness.

Step 8: Release the control housing and diffuser

Release the locking tabs on the freezer side of the diffuser. Push the diffuser toward the refrigerator compartment slightly to keep the tabs from snapping back into place.

In the refrigerator compartment,  pull the control housing and diffuser out and down to completely release those components.

Work the control rod out of the diffuser. You might have to rotate the diffuser 90 degrees to release the control rod.

Step 9: Install the new diffuser

Connect the control rod to the new diffuser.

Position the diffuser and the control housing in the opening in the top of the refrigerator compartment and push the diffuser into the opening until the locking tabs snap into place.

Step 10: Reattach the control housing

Push the wire harness for the control housing into the wire harness plug in the refrigerator compartment.

Position the control housing and line up the screw holes. Insert the mounting screws and tighten them firmly to secure the control housing in the top of the refrigerator compartment.

 Tip: Don't overtighten the mounting screws. Turn them until they stop and then give them a reasonable twist.

Step 11: Install the air duct

Position the air duct in the freezer compartment. Line up the screw holes and replace the mounting screws. Tighten the mounting screws until they stop and then give them a reasonable twist.

Step 12: Plug in the wire harness

In the freezer, hold the ice maker near the mounting rails and plug in the wire harness into the connection plug until the locking tab snaps into place.

Step 13: Slide the ice maker assembly onto the mounting rails

Inside the freezer compartment, line up the new ice maker with the mounting rails and push it onto the rails until you can position the fill tube in the fill cup. Put the fill tube into the cup.

Slide the ice maker module into position until the locking tab snaps into place.

Step 14: Replace the wire harness cover

Position the plastic wire harness cover and screw it into place. Tighten the screws until they stop turning and then give them a reasonably firm twist to secure them. Don't overtighten.

Step 15: Reattach the front cover

Position the front plastic cover in front of the mounting clip and insert the left side pin into the mounting clip. Work the right side pin over the top of the mounting clip and snap it into place.

Remove the tape that holds the flipper cover.

Step 16: Restore water and electricity

Open the water supply shut-off valve to restore the water supply to the refrigerator.

Plug in the refrigerator or turn on the house circuit breaker to restore power.