How Do You Fix Broken Refrigerator Seals?

Refrigerator seals maintain a tight closure to keep cold air inside the appliance. When the seal is compromised, cold air seeps out, and the compressor has to work harder, leading to an increased electric bill and wear on the refrigerator. The good news is that it’s usually a quick and easy fix. So, how do you fix a broken refrigerator seal, and how much will it cost you?

Small tears or cracks on the seal can be fixed with silicon grease and adhesive paper. If the seal is beyond repair, it can be replaced; a new seal costs around $50-70. The replacement process is pretty easy, so you should be able to do it yourself.

It’s important to keep an eye on your refrigerator seal and replace it when it starts to show wear and tear. Even small tears and gaps in the seal make a big difference in how efficiently your refrigerator works, and early replacement can save you money on repair costs. So, let’s find out how to check your refrigerator seal and replace it if it’s broken.

How Do You Know if Your Fridge Seal Is Broken?

Do-it-yourselfers when replacing the defective seal

Refrigerator seals or gaskets are made of rubber so that the damage can appear in the form of a crack, a tear, or just a decrease in the gripping power of the seal. And it’s not always immediately noticeable when the seal starts to fail.

But if you’re experiencing any of the issues below, your fridge seal is likely broken.

  1. Constantly Running Compressor: A broken seal allows the cold air to escape and warm air. So your fridge has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, which will lead to higher energy bills.
  2. Warm Fridge Interior: The compressor may not be able to cope with the amount of air exchange occurring due to a defective seal, and the fridge’s temperature rises above ambient.
  3. Excessive Condensation and Frost: As more warm air enters the fridge, the humidity rises and causes excessive condensation. You’ll notice it in the cabin and on the gasket. A similar situation happens with frost; more moisture means more ice in the freezer and more defrost cycles.
  4. Food Goes Bad Faster: Temperature fluctuation and high humidity affect the shelf life of your food. So you’ll start to notice that things like opened milk and delicate vegetables spoil faster than they usually do.
  5. Door Not Closing Tightly: Fridge door close with a tight grip, and you should feel some resistance when you pull it open; if you don’t feel that resistance, there is probably a gap in the seal. You can do a small test to confirm: Place a dollar bill between the door and the fridge and close the door. If you can easily pull the dollar bill out, then the seal is broken.
  6. Visual Assessment: If you’re experiencing any of the issues above, do a visual inspection of the seal. You may miss hidden minor cracks, but any significant damage will be hard to miss. Also, feel around the seal with your finger; an old worn-out seal is usually brittle.

How Do You Fix the Rubber Seal on a Refrigerator?

If you have confirmed that the seal on your fridge is indeed broken, there are a few easy and inexpensive ways to fix it. You can try one or a combination of them, depending on the severity of the damage:

Fixing a Loss of Grip

If your only concern is loss of grip, it may be due to grime or dirt on the seal and can be fixed by cleaning the seal with a damp cloth and mild detergent. You can do this either after removing the seal or while it’s attached to the fridge.

  1. Dampen a cloth with hot water and detergent, wring it out well, and wipe the seal. Make sure you get into all cervices.
  2. If you see any gaps between the seal and the door, use a cotton swab to apply a thin layer of silicone adhesive under the seal. Press the seal firmly in place with your fingers, then close the door and wait 2 hours for the adhesive to cure.
  3. Finally, apply paraffin wax (on Amazon) or silicone grease to the surface, touching the fridge. It improves grip and also prevents the rubber from drying out.

Fixing Tears or Cracks

Small tears or cracks can be fixed with a sealant and adhesive paper. Follow the steps below:

  1. Clean the seal following the steps in the first solution, and allow it to dry completely.
  2. Apply a layer of silicone sealant (on Amazon) over the tear, making sure it covers the entire surface and enters into the cracks.
  3. Cover the tear with a 2-inch piece of waxed paper or adhesive cloth. Then, trim and fold the extra around the edges to match the seal’s form.
  4. Then close the fridge door; the paper stays in place between the seal and the fridge. Wait at least 3 hours for the sealant to adhere before using the fridge.

Can You Replace the Refrigerator Seal?

If the seal is too damaged to be fixed with a bit of tinkering, it can be replaced. It’s a pretty easy process; you need to purchase the correct size and type of seal and a greasy lubricant. You’ll also need a screwdriver if your refrigerator has a metal retainer design for the seal. Here is an easy method to follow:

  1. Prepare to change the seal: The seal comes in compact packaging, so the first step is to lay it flat on the surface for at least 5 hours before you begin working on it. You may use warm water or a blow dryer to speed up the procedure and relieve any kinks.

    Since the refrigerator door will stay open while replacing the seal, it’s better to switch off the fridge and save the food in a cooler or some other cold place.
  2. Remove the old seal: Depending on your fridge, you may have a metal retainer with screws or a simple double groove to hold the seal in place. Feel the inner side of the seal with your fingers and lift it off gently; you’ll be able to see the screws underneath if any exist. Loosen the screws and slide off the broken seal.
  3. Install the new seal: Clean the gasket groove on the door with a dish detergent. Apply a light coat of lubricant to the seal and insert it into the groove, starting from the top corner. Secure it in place with the help of a flat head screwdriver or your fingers. Just make sure it’s aligned properly, and then tighten the screws.

    Test it a few times by closing and opening the door; if it’s done correctly, the door should be nice and tight. Finally, coat a very thin layer of petroleum jelly or paraffin wax over the entire surface that contacts the door. This will keep the new seal flexible and reduce drag.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Seal on a Refrigerator?

If you only need minor repairs like cleaning or adding a sealant, it shouldn’t cost more than $10. However, if the seal needs to be replaced, a new refrigerator door seal costs around $50-70.

A freezer seal is usually cheaper, around $40-50. The cost will vary depending on the brand, size, and type of seal you need.

If you want some professional help, fridge seal replacement services typically cost between $150 and $200. However, seal replacement is pretty easy, so most people choose to do it independently.

Other Reasons Your Fridge Door Isn’t Closing Properly

Woman hand opening refrigerator door on wooden floor

A broken seal isn’t the only reason a fridge door might not close tightly. Here are some other possible causes:

  1. The refrigerator isn’t level on the floor. Especially if it’s tilted forward, the weight shifts to the door and makes it harder to keep it closed.
  2. An overloaded fridge door can also lead to the same problem. When there is too much weight, it throws off balance and puts pressure on hinges, and the door seal can’t align properly.
  3. Loose hinges are also a common culprit. Check if they need to be tightened and if that solves the problem.
  4. Sometimes a badly positioned item or storage rack can stop the fridge door from closing all the way. Check if anything is blocking it and move it to the side.
  5. Too much ice around the freezer door can keep it from closing properly. Remove the ice and try again.