The gasket seal in your refrigerator is possibly the second-most-important component, after the compressor coils that create the cold. Without the gasket, you would not be able to contain the cold. Refrigerators would be much less effective, and a lot more expensive. Naturally, when the gasket seal on a refrigerator wears out or becomes damaged, these consequences are the same. Your fridge may not stay cold, or your fridge might fall open and pour cold air into the open kitchen.
Instead of tolerating or constantly oiling an old gasket seal, it’s remarkably easy to replace the seal instead. Refrigerator seals are simple and the replacement process is something a middle-schooler could do safely because no electrical parts are involved. The only concern is finishing quickly so you can close the refrigerator again. We’ll walk you through the process step-by-step for the average refrigerator design.
Inspect Your Refrigerator Seal
Start by inspecting your refrigerator seal. Make sure that it needs replacing and that the trouble with your door isn’t something else. Does the seal look dried up, twisted, or damaged? If so, it needs replacing.
If the fridge door hangs loose on the hinges, has heavy items in the door, or something blocking the fridge from closing, these can lead to false assumptions that your gasket is to blame. Do a thorough check and be sure it’s time to change out that gasket seal.
Purchase a New Matching Gasket
Not all refrigerators are designed the same, so naturally, not all fridge door gaskets are the same, either. You’ll need to buy the right size and style of gasket for your refrigerator. Just look up the replacement part number or find a gasket that is compatible with your brand and model of refrigerator. Order ahead of time, double-check part numbers and have the new gasket in-hand before starting the repair.
Get the Right Kind of Driver
You will need either a slot screwdriver, a cross (Phillips) screwdriver, or a hex/nut driver. Fridges are different across brands and models. To find out the kind of driver you need, open the fridge door and lift the edge of the seal. You should see a perimeter of screws. Get the right kind of driver for these mounting screws.
Soak Your New Gasket Seal
Few people know this, but it’s a good idea to soak a new gasket seal before using it. On the day of your repair, place the gasket seal in a bucket or the bottom of your tub to soak for an hour or two in warm water. This will help to soften the seal, improve the sealing quality, and make the new seal easier to install.
Consider Repacking Fridge Contents Into a Cooler
Before you start working on the seal, consider repacking all the contents of the refrigerator into a cooler with ice packs. This will allow you to safely spend all the time you need with the refrigerator door open without putting your perishable foods at risk.
Unplug the Refrigerator
You will also want to unplug the refrigerator. Because the door will be hanging open, unplugging the fridge ensures that no cooling cycles run and that no power for the compressor pump is wasted when the fridge temp can’t be maintained. As long as you have the refrigerator door hanging open, you might as well switch off the power.
Loosen the Mounting Screws
Now it’s time to really get started. Grab your driver and lift the lip of the gasket. Secure your driver to each screw along the entire door perimeter and loosen them one at a time. Do not remove any of the screws, as these are not the type that should be removed. Instead, the screws are used to clamp the gasket into place and loosening them will do the trick.
Not all refrigerator designs use screws and some are pressed into place.
Remove the Gasket Seal All the Way Around
When the screws are all loose pull at one corner. You will notice a long flap along the backside of the gasket that was slipped into a space around the edge of the door. This is the material that was clamped by the screws and holding the gasket in place. Carefully pull out that securing flap all the way around, Then remove the gasket from your refrigerator door. Feel free to throw it away or recycle as you see fit.
Fit the Gasket Into the Door Slot
Now take your soaked new gasket and line it up the same way. If you are standing in front of the open fridge door, hold the gasket so you are looking through it, and the long-edged side is pointed toward the fridge door. Align one corner and slip that flap into the slot provided. Work all the way around, fixing the long flap-side fo the gasket into the slot behind the mounting screws.
Tighten the Mounting Screws
Use the appropriate driver now to lift the front-flap of the gasket and tighten each mounting screw. Remember to tighten all the way around the perimeter, but don’t twist too tightly. You want to firmly hold the gasket flap in place with the screws, but don’t try to pierce it, as that’s not what these screws are for. Twist until you feel firm resistance, then stop. Give the gasket a tug to make sure it’s secure all the way around.
Test Your Success
Congratulations, that was the full extent of this repair. You are now ready to test and see if your new gasket is performing to your standards. Try opening and closing the door a few times. Feel the stick and release. There should be suction and some resistance re-opening the fridge door once it’s closed. As a final touch, smear a very thin layer of vaseline over the surface of the gasket to help it retain moisture. Do this monthly and that gasket will last the rest of your fridge’s lifespan.
Do You Need Professional Refrigerator Repairs?
Replacing your refrigerator gasket is a simple task, but an old gasket also means an old refrigerator. If your fridge has more deep-set problems like an inefficient or noisy compressor or an ice maker that doesn’t work, we can help. Contact us today for more home appliance repair advice or professional appliance repair services.