A refrigerator door seal should prevent warm, moist air from entering the refrigerator when the door is closed. A defective refrigerator door seal is often responsible for the refrigerator not cooling or the freezer not freezing. A defective refrigerator door seal can also cause a spike in your electricity bill, as the refrigerator has to work overtime to try to keep things refrigerated. It can also cause frost buildup in the freezer, which reduces airflow between the refrigerator and the freezer sections.
Note that the refrigerator door seal is also called a gasket. It is made of rubber, with a thin magnetic strip inside to help the seal grip the refrigerator and keep the door closed.
Before replacing the door seal, it pays to make sure that your refrigerator issue is caused by the door seal. Make sure it is not food fragments on the door seal causing it to not shut properly or that refrigerator trays are not sticking out and causing the issue.
Fortunately, refrigerator door seal replacement is a fairly easy procedure.
Symptoms of a Faulty Door Seal
- Food is not cooling or freezing
- The door does not appear to be closing correctly
- Condensation is occurring inside the refrigerator
- The fridge is constantly running
- Cracks, splits, or bends in the door seal
- Frost buildup
Testing the Door Seal
To check if the door seal is faulty, close the refrigerator door on a piece of paper. If you pull on the paper while the door is closed, you should feel resistance when you try to pull the paper out. Putting some pressure on the door while pulling the paper out will give the best indication. Repeat the test around the refrigerator door to test the entire seal.
What You Will Need
- A replacement door seal
- Appropriate screwdriver (not required with some door seal types)
- Petroleum jelly or silicone grease
- Paper towels or a cloth
- Blow dryer
- Given the refrigerator door will need to remain open for a period, you may want to remove items from the refrigerator.
- Unless your refrigerator seal comes into contact with electrical components, it should not be necessary to disconnect the refrigerator from the power.
- Prepare the door seal for installation (discussed below).
Purchasing a New Door Seal
- Make sure to match the make and model number of your refrigerator when purchasing a new door seal. You must make sure to get the correct replacement door seal, as an exact fit is crucial.
- Check the color of the replacement door seal, as this is sometimes overlooked and may be important to you.
Remove the Old Door Seal
Removing the old door seal should be straightforward, but it will depend on the style of door seal that your refrigerator has. In most cases, you can simply pull it off. If your door seal is fitted between outer and inner panels on the door, there are screws around the door liner that will need to be loosened. Once loosened, you should be able to easily remove the old seal.
Replace the Door Seal
1. Take the new door seal out of its packaging
Door seals are usually folded to fit into the packaging they come in. This means the door seal will need to be unfolded and the twists and kinks removed before you can fit the door seal to the refrigerator.
2. Lay the door seal out
Lay the door seal out on a flat, sturdy surface, like the floor of your kitchen. It is recommended to leave the door seal laid out for 24 hours to assist the door seal in returning to its proper shape and form.
3. Blow-dry the door seal
To get rid of kinks and folds in the door seal, heat from a blow dryer, set on low, can be applied to the door seal. This will make it easier to put the door seal on the refrigerator and ensure it works properly once installed. Blow-dry the door seal, while using your fingers to straighten it out and remove folds. Soaking the door seal in a tub or sink filled with hot water can also be used to prepare it for installation.
4. Clean the area
Before fitting the new door seal, clean and dry the area on the refrigerator where the new seal will go. This will help the new door seal to stick to the door.
5. Attach the door seal
There are three common styles of door seals. The first style is easier to apply, as it simply pushes into a groove around the perimeter of the door. Use your fingers to push firmly on the door seal and fit it to the refrigerator door.
Another style of door seal fits behind the liner on the door and is held by a retainer lip. You can use your fingers to push firmly and attach it to the lip. This style of door seal requires a little more effort to get it to fit and attach but is also relatively easy to install.
The third style of door seal requires screws around the door liner to be loosened so that the door seal can be fitted between the outer and inner door panels. After loosening the screws, position the new door seal at the top of the door first. Then work on fitting the bottom half.
6. Check the door seal
When the door seal installation is complete, close the door and check that the seal fits evenly around the door. Look closely at each section of door seal, checking for places where the door seal may not have been attached correctly. If you find any issues, you can use a blow dryer to apply a low heat and smooth out the sections with your fingers. The heat should soften the seal and make it easier to correct.
If there are still sections of the door seal that are not fitting correctly, with time, the pull generated by the magnetic strip should help correct the issue. It may take a few days for this process to work. The heat from a blow dryer can again be applied to the seal to speed up the process.
Applying a lubricant, like petroleum jelly or silicone grease, to the door seal will also help the door seal fit correctly and stop it from folding in when the door is closed.