How to Repair a Torn Refrigerator Door Seal

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If the refrigerator door seal or gasket is torn, it should be repaired quickly to ensure the refrigerator works properly and to avoid an expensive power bill. A torn refrigerator door seal is often responsible for the refrigerator not cooling or the freezer not freezing. A torn 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 build-up in the freezer, which reduces airflow between the refrigerator and the freezer sections.

In most cases, if the door seal is torn or cracked, it will need to be replaced rather than repaired. However, if there is minor damage, you may be able to repair it. Read on to repair or replace the door seal.

1. Quick Fix

Silicone grease or petroleum jelly can be used to fix the door seal if a small section is not gripping the refrigerator door. Simply put some silicone grease or petroleum jelly onto a cotton swab and push it into the groove underneath the loose rubber. This should make it easier to push the rubber back into place and seal any leaks.

2. Wash the Door Seal

Sometimes, the door seal does not seal correctly because of grime or mold on the door seal. If the tear on the door seal is small, cleaning the door seal may be enough to negate the issue. Warm water and detergent can be used to clean the door seal. For a more thorough clean, remove and clean the door seal (see removal instructions below).

After the door seal has been washed and dried, apply a thin layer of silicone grease to the side that connects to the refrigerator door. This will improve its effectiveness and guard against cracks forming in the future. Reattach the door seal to the refrigerator.

3. Repair the Door Seal

To repair a torn door seal, waxed paper and silicone sealant can be used.

  1. Clean the door seal, removing grease, grime, and mold.
  2. Apply an even layer of silicone sealant to the damaged area so that it gets inside any gaps in the seal.
  3. Carefully cover the silicone with a 2-inch strip of waxed paper. Make sure it overlaps the undamaged section of the seal at either end.
  4. Trim the edges of the waxed paper so that it can be folded to conform to the original shape of the seal.
  5. When the sealant and paper are positioned correctly, carefully close the refrigerator door. This should trap the paper between the seal and the refrigerator body.
  6. Wait at least 8 hours for the sealant to set.

4. Replace the Door Seal

What You Will Need

  • Replacement door seal
  • Petroleum jelly or silicone grease
  • Paper towels or a cloth
  • Blow dryer
  • Screwdriver (usually a Phillips-head)

Preparation

  • The refrigerator door will need to remain open, so you may want to remove items from the refrigerator and store them in a cooler.
  • Prepare the new door seal for installation by laying it out 24 hours before installation (discussed below).

Purchasing a New Door Seal

  • Try to match the make and model number of your refrigerator with the replacement door seal. A universal door seal may work, but ensuring you have a replacement door seal that will fit correctly is crucial.

Remove the Old Door Seal

Removing the old door seal will depend on the type of door seal that the refrigerator has. In most cases, you can simply pull it off. If the 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, pull the old seal off.

Replace the Door Seal

1. Prepare the Door Seal

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 it to the refrigerator.

Lay the door seal out on a flat, sturdy surface, and leave it for 24 hours. This will help the door seal to return to its proper shape and form.

2. Heat 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. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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. Start in the top corners, fit the door seal, and then move on to the bottom half.

5. Check the Door Seal

When the door seal installation is complete, close the door and check that the seal seals evenly around the door. Look closely at each section of the door seal, checking for places where the door seal may not have attached correctly. If you find any issues, you can use a blow dryer to apply a low heat and then smooth out the sections with your fingers.

A lubricant, such as silicone grease or petroleum jelly, can also be applied to help fit the door seal correctly and stop it from folding in when the door is closed. 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.

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