How To Install A Refrigerator Door Gasket

In this article we will discuss the installation of a refrigerator door gasket, also known as a refrigerator door seal. The installation instructions discussed here also apply to installing freezer door gaskets.

What Are The Symptoms
Most often it is the refrigerator door gasket that fails. This is because the refrigerator door is used significantly more than the freezer door. If you start to notice that you have water droplets in the ceiling of your fresh food section you need to look for excessive door openings or a refrigerator door gasket that is torn or damaged. The temperature inside your fresh food section hovers around 38 to 42°F. Normally all of the air that gets into the fresh food section of the refrigerator is passed over the evaporator and the moisture is removed. When a refrigerator door gasket fails, excessive warm humid air migrates into the refrigerator and condenses from a gas to a liquid and clings to cold surfaces such as bottles, shelves or the ceiling of the refrigerator.

What Causes a Refrigerator Door Gasket to Fail
Under normal conditions a refrigerator door gasket will last the life of the refrigerator. In fact most refrigerator door gaskets fail because of a lack of cleaning. Every time you open the refrigerator door and take something out the possibility exists that something may drip or fall from the item you are removing. Quite often this minor spill is invisible. After time a sticky residue builds up causing the gasket at the bottom where it meets the refrigerator cabinet to stick. When this happens as the door is opened the gasket wants to stay behind and starts to get pulled away. Eventually it starts to rip and curl up near the area around the door hinge. If this is not corrected immediately the gasket will have to be replaced.

Preparation For The Installation
Most refrigerator door gaskets are shipped by the manufactures in small boxes. Obviously this is done to reduce shipping costs but stuffing a large refrigerator door gasket into a small box causes it to twist or curl and appear damaged at first. This twisting or curling must be removed before the gasket can be installed and seal properly. The gasket is made of a rubber type material that is pliable so returning it to it's normal condition is not that difficult. Some technicians will let it sit in the hot sun for a short time, others will put it in the dryer, that's right the clothes dryer for a few minutes, while others put it in a bathtub full of hot water. Personally I prefer the hair dryer method. And that is to stretch the gasket out on a flat surface and use a hair dryer to soften the material and stretch out most of the twists and turns. Doing so ahead of time will make the installation go much faster. Use caution because a hair dryer held in one place too long can damage the gasket!

How to Install a Refrigerator or Freezer Door Gasket
The very first thing you need to do before you install the new refrigerator door gasket is to confirm that you have the exact replacement. Obviously you should do this before you turn the refrigerator off and unload the door. Take the new gasket and simply hold it up by the corners against the old gasket. Once you confirm that you have the correct replacement, then you can begin the refrigerator door seal installation. Now it's time to turn the refrigerator off, and clear everything out of the door. You cannot install a refrigerator or freezer door gasket if there is any weight in the door. After everything has been removed from the door, start by removing the screws that hold the inner door liner on the door panel. Do not remove all the screws. Leave four screws one in each corner. We don't want to remove the refrigerator door liner, we simply want to gain enough space between the door liner and the door panel to slip the new gasket in. Now you should be able to remove the old refrigerator door gasket.

Once the gasket has been removed set it off to the side and begin to install the new gasket by sliding it into the gap that is molded into the door liner. Once you do that all the way around, you can snug up the screws that hold the door liner on the panel but do not tighten them all the way! You will need to flex the door panel before we can complete the installation and if the screws are tightened, you may crack the inner door liner.

Once all the screws are snug to the door liner, you can gently close the door to the refrigerator to check and see how the outer door panel may need adjusted. If the gap appears to be even all the way around you can tighten the screws on the hinge side of the door. Check the gap and fit again and if necessary you may have to flex the outer door panel just a little. As long as the screws on the liner are loose, you can use your foot to hold the bottom of the door panel and pull the top of the panel opposite of the hinge with your hand out or in as necessary. Repeat this process as you go around the door panel tightening the screws. When all the screws are tight you will need to use a hair dryer to soften the gasket slightly so that it can seal properly. The hair dryer will damage the gasket if held in one place for an extended amount of time and it does not take much!

If the gasket does not seem to be tight enough or if it does not seem to have enough magnetic strength then you will have to adjust the door panel again like suggested above. You must loosen the screws around the door liner to adjust it again. Remember that if you do not loosen the screws you run the risk of cracking the door liner.

And that's it. Remember to keep the bottom of the refrigerator clean where it comes in contact with the door gasket. If you do that the replacement gasket will most likely last the life of the refrigerator.