Sometimes, the biggest problems have the simplest solutions. And sometimes the simplest parts are the least-often maintained! This is definitely the case when it comes to refrigerator and freezer door gaskets.
Gaskets are the rubberized strips that run along the door where it closes into your refrigerator or freezer's frame. They may not be the most technical or involved parts of your appliances, but they are very important. Here's a closer look at how refrigerator door gaskets function, how to tell when they need repair, and how you can replace yours without having to call a contractor.
What functions do gaskets serve?
The gasket ensures a tight seal between the refrigerator or freezer and its door. It prevents air and moisture from leaking out of your refrigerator, which helps it maintain a consistent temperature and moisture level. If your gaskets are not in great shape, here are some of the issues you can expect to experience:
- Items stored on or near the door may spoil faster because they're not staying cool enough due to warm air leaking in through the damaged gasket.
- Your energy bills may increase because the fridge or freezer has to work harder to maintain its temperature.
- Your fridge of freezer will be more prone to breakdowns since it will have to work harder to maintain its temperature.
What are some signs your gaskets need to be replaced?
It's best to inspect your gaskets every few weeks so that if they are becoming damaged, you notice right away before the problems listed above start popping up. When looking over the gasket, make sure you run your fingers along its whole length, gently pulling it away from the door frame.
Check that the gasket is still sealed to the door frame. Also note if you see any areas where it is cracked, chipped, or pulling away from the door frame to the extent that you can't shove it back in. Also note if there is any mold buildup on the gasket. You can clean this up with bleach and water -- and you should clean it up since it will lead to nasty smells in your fridge while also causing the gasket to break down faster.
How do you replace the gasket?
If your gasket is cracked, chipped, or otherwise worn out, you can replace it in three easy steps.
1. Remove the old gasket. All you have to do is pull it away to reveal the screw that's holding it into place. Unscrew the screw partway, and the gasket should pull off from behind it. Depending on your freezer or refrigerator design, you may have to undo several of these screws.
2. Bring the old gasket with you to the store, along with the name and model number of your refrigerator. You can use this information to ensure you buy the right new gasket for your freezer. Note that you may have a choice between a gasket made by your freezer manufacturer and one made by a generic company. The manufacturer-made one is usually the better choice since it's guaranteed to fit.
3. Moisten the new gasket with some water to make it more flexible. Then, maneuver it into place. Push it behind one of the screws, and then tighten that screw. (It's easiest to start at the screw closest to the corner.) Move onto the next screw, tightening it once the gasket is pushed behind it. Now your gasket should be fully in place.
If you pay your gaskets the attention they deserve, they should continue to serve you for many years to come. Remember to inspect them regularly and replace them at the first sign of trouble.