How to Replace the Gasket Seal on a Refrigerator/Freezer Door
Is Your Refrigerator Running?
Replacing the gasket on your refrigerator and freezer doors is simple, cheap and doesn't take much time at all. This is one of those tasks that many of us don't think about doing and often assume it requires an expert to do the job. Little did you know, you are the perfect candidate to do the job regardless of skill set, background or gender. The following will inform you of how to check if you need a new gasket, how to obtain a new gasket, how to install a new gasket and what the benefits of this easy repair are.
How to Check if Your Refrigerator Gasket Needs Replaced
Of course the first thing we need to determine is if this repair is necessary. No special tools or meters are required to make this simple assessment; just a simple piece of paper or dollar bill. Simply open the freezer door and shut the piece of paper inside the door seal. Does it slide out easily or tear in half? If the paper slides out rather easily, you likely need to make this repair. The paper should be difficult to pull out if there is a nice tight seal on the door.
Moisture on the seal and evidence of black mold are other tell-tale signs that it is time to replace the gasket as well. With a significant difference in temperatures inside and out of the unit, a leak will create condensation on the seal. The condensation then enjoys becoming a sort of playground for mold to grow thus the little black speckles that form in and around our leaky seal. YUCK!
How to Buy a New Refrigerator Gasket
Unfortunately, we've found that our refrigerator is in need of some T.L.C. but hey, better to know now than when we lose a "fridge" full of groceries.
Before we start our replacement, we need a new gasket to replace the old one with. This shouldn't be too difficult unless you have an antique and even then, you may be surprised as to what you can find online. Your new gasket will likely cost you between $40 and $80.
You'll need to find the identifying information for your refrigerator. The make, model and other appliance information should be easy to locate in your owner's manual or on the unit's rating plate if you don't have the original owner's manual. This rating plate will likely be located in the jamb of your refrigerator door or somewhere on the interior wall of one of the refrigerator's cabinets.
Once you've obtained this information (make and model being the most important) you should be able to order a new gasket from the original maker (OEM) or obtain a universal type gasket from a local hardware or appliance store. The dimensions of your refrigerator may be a good bit of information to have if ordering something other than an exact replacement from the manufacturer.
What You Need to Replace Your Refrigerator Gasket
- New Gasket
- Hex Head Wrench - This will likely be a 1/4" size hex head but you may need a screwdriver or "Allen" wrench depending on your refrigerator.
- Rag - This is a good time to clean under the gasket where it has likely never been cleaned.
- Vaseline or other petroleum jelly type product
Step by Step Refrigerator Gasket Replacement
Now that you have your new gasket, let's get started with our replacement. I suggest you open up your new gasket and lay it on the floor in a warm area so that it "relaxes". This will just make for easier installation as it's likely somewhat mis-shapen from being in packaging. If need be, you can even use a blow dryer to help relax the material. I don't think this will be necessary but it is possible. Don't get it too hot, just warm enough to help it relax.
Step One: Lift the front edge of the gasket at one corner to expose the screws that you'll need to loosen. The key word here is loosen. We are not going to remove the screws entirely.
Step Two: Loosen the screws working from one corner across and down. As you loosen the screws, you will be able to start pulling the gasket off of the door. Work your way around in this fashion until the gasket is completely off.
Step Three: Begin to install the gasket in reverse of how the old one was removed. As you install the new gasket, just slightly tighten down the screws as you go.
Step Four: Now that the new gasket is essentially in place, shut the door and inspect the gasket on all sides to insure that it is properly seated. We don't want any wrinkles in our new gasket. You can make minor adjustments by pulling the gasket gently one way or the other as needed.
Step Five: Finally, now that your gasket is seated properly and you are happy with your inspection, tighten down the screws on last time to complete the replacement. Do not over tighten the screws. You should just snug them down firmly as opposed to breaking out the drill to really wrench them down.
Step Six (Optional): You may need to smear a light coating of petroleum jelly along the gasket at the jamb to ease the opening of the door if your seal is amazingly tight. You should notice a little more effort being required but shouldn't have to brace yourself for leverage to open it either.
That's it. We're done and likely within a half an hour of the time we started. That wasn't so bad was it? Now we can just reap the benefits of our improved refrigerator.
What benefits? I thought you'd never ask.
Which Do You Prefer?
Of the below choices, which would you prefer?
The Benefits of Installing a New Refrigerator/Freezer Gasket
I know that the cost of the gasket is not outrageous but can still be hard to swallow. Perhaps this will make you feel better.
A refrigerator runs in order to maintain the interior temperature of the cabinets. This is also when the refrigerator costs you money, when it's running. With that in mind, a leak makes it difficult to for the appliance to maintain it's temperature and therefore it runs more often. Are you feeling better yet? It won't be too terribly long before that new gasket pays for itself.
That's not the only benefit though. Rising and falling temperatures inside the refrigerator are not good for your food. Now that your's is properly sealed, you should expect your food to stay fresher longer due to having a consistent temperature to "chill" in.
Last but not least, how about the fact that you just cleaned and area of your fridge that has likely never been touched? If your gasket was bad, it's likely that this area was quite dirty and even moldy as well. I don't know about you but I prefer my food to be as far from mold as possible.
All this and there were no service charges, no special tools to buy and no sweat. You should feel good about having done this yourself and perhaps saved the cost of buying a new refrigerator when the one you had just needed a little love.