How to Replace a Refrigerator Seal
Is your refrigerator having issues keeping cool? Are you noticing mold and moisture around the doors? Either of these issues signify that it's time to check out the refrigerator door gasket and see if it needs to be replaced. Once the rubber gasket gets worn, stretched, or torn, it's no longer doing its job of keeping cold air in and hot air out, and you're losing energy, which means you're losing money, too.
Replacing the gasket or seal isn't that difficult with most models. Let's get started first on how you find the new gasket, and then we'll move on to how you install it.
Determine Which Gasket You Need
Refrigerator gaskets are going to be fastened to your refrigerator door with screws, plastic retainers, or by simply pushing them into place. To determine which method you'll be working with, simply open the door and check your refrigerator seal so you can find the appropriate replacement.
Next, if you know your refrigerator model, contact the manufacturer or an appliance store to find the replacement gasket. Some universal kits are available if you cannot find a replacement gasket for your exact refrigerator model, and using the information you found when checking how it's secured will help you choose the right kit for your refrigerator.
Step 1 - Remove the Old Gasket
To remove your old refrigerator gasket, have a flathead screwdriver ready to help you pry it out, as well as any other tools needed to remove the fasteners used. Try not to break the fasteners or screws -- loosen them and then pry the gasket away from the door carefully. Be sure to save any fasteners in case your new replacement gasket does not come with them. If you have to reuse the fasteners and screws, place them in a bowl and put baking soda over them. Then pour a cup of white vinegar on top and allow them to soak while you move onto the next steps. Rinse well in water before using them again.
Step 2 - Clean the Inside of the Door
After you have the old gasket off, it's wise to give it a good cleaning before installing the new seal. Using vinegar and water is usually sufficient, but if there's a lot of built-up gunk under it you may want to use a good de-greaser for cleaning. Also, if there's any mold, use a toothbrush and bleach to completely clean the area before adding the new seal. Dry it well when finished.
Step 3 - Prepare the Gasket
When you get your new gasket it will be folded up so to prepare it for use you'll want to straighten it out. Laying it in the sun and pulling it straight will help it relax enough to bend and go easier into place. You could lay it on your car hood, the deck, or even place it in some very hot water to help loosen it up. Once it's more flexible and straightened out a bit, it's time to install it.
Step 4 - Installing the New Gasket
Starting in the center at the top of the door, begin installing your new gasket. Press it in, or fasten with screws or other fasteners, working your way toward each corner. Make sure there's no gaps or twists. If there are, pull it back out and start over. Finish pushing and fastening the gasket down the sides and along the bottom of the door until it's completely installed.
Step 5 - Check Your Work
Once the gasket is installed, close the doors and ensure that they shut properly. Check for any gaps in the seal. If it's not properly sealed, you'll end up with the same issues as before -- warm air will be getting in and cold air getting out, and soon you'll once more have mold and mildew building up along the doors as well as a large loss of food and electricity. Go back over all your fasteners or screws and make sure they are properly tightened.
Step 6 - Oil it Up
Once you're sure it's properly installed and you have no leaks and gaps, rub the entire new gasket down with some mineral oil, lemon oil, or even olive oil. This will help the seal from drying out and cracking. Once a month wash down the gasket with a little bleach water and then dry it and again wipe it with oil. (Not too much oil -- just enough to keep it supple.)
Installing a new refrigerator gasket is one of the easier DIY tasks you can do. It'll save electricity, money, food, and years on your refrigerator by allowing it to not work as hard to keep your food cool. Check the gasket for wear and tear at least once a year and replace as needed.