Even when shipshape, an older refrigerator is one of the biggest energy gobblers in a home and if the door gasket is shot it gobbles even more. A cracked or warped gasket allows cold air to escape to the outside where it condenses and turns into drips that leak back into box or onto the floor. Old gaskets are unsightly, unsanitary, and messy, prone to harbor mold as well as food spills.
* To test the gasket run your hand around it feeling for cold air, look for mold on the gasket, check for a light leak by placing a flashlight in the box and closing the door, or close half of a dollar bill in the door and gently pull it out. If there is a drag on the bill your gasket is fine.
A worn refrigerator gasket isn’t the end of the world, or the refrigerator. If your appliance was manufactured prior to 1998 there might be a quick payback from buying a new one but it is a big investment and for $100 or less you can return your ‘fridge almost to its original efficiency.
Installing a Refrigerator Gasket
Universal gaskets are available we recommend that you purchase one specific to your refrigerator. You can find one on-line or at major appliance dealers. Installing a gasket is a bit tricky and you may appreciate an extra set of hands but few skills or tools are required.
Soften the gasket by soaking in hot water until it is pliable. Make sure the refrigerator is level or take off the door and place it flat on the floor. The gasket conceals screws that hold a retainer in place so fold back the gasket and use a nut driver starting at the top outside corner of the door to loosen the screws along the top and side. Do not remove the screws as they also hold parts of the door in place. Pull the old gasket out then push the new gasket under the retainer and tighten the screws. Repeat for the bottom and other side. A thin coating of petroleum jelly along the hinge side of the gasket will reduce the drag when opening the door.
Make sure that the door is hanging level, not sagging (this is where the extra set of hands is good) then test the gasket’s integrity with the lighted flashlight. If there are gaps between the gasket and the frame loosen the screws and twist the door a little. It might be necessary to do this several times if the door is warped.
Now your refrigerator is almost as good as new and you may even find that perishables last longer and your utility bill drops a tiny bit. Make sure to apply some simple energy saving tips to your refrigerator as well to help you save more money.