Have you ever walked into your kitchen and found the refrigerator door partly open? You quickly close it, only to find that this scenario happens again…And when a family member says, “The refrigerator door won’t stay closed” you start to investigate further.
You might find the door either has a super weak seal when it’s closed or even worse, closing it normally actually makes it bounce back ajar. You need to fix this.
I know how frustrating it can be when the fridge door will not stay shut (or any door for that matter). As a person who fixes things, you might be perplexed with how to fix this problem.
But don’t lose hope just yet – your door can be fixed with a few hacks and DIY methods. Read on, and you’ll see a little effort along with the following advice will put an end to warm milk and increasing electric bills.
How a Refrigerator Door Stays Shut
If you know a little bit about how refrigerator doors stay closed in the first place, it can help solve your specific problem.
Obviously these appliances are designed to stay tightly shut, so the cold air stays inside and your food can keep fresh.
The door hugs tightly to the fridge’s frame because of an ingenious design of a specialized gasket. You know, that rubber strip with a long magnet inside it?
The magnet and squishy seal work together to get the air-tight seal you need.
But when the gasket fails, the fresh food inside is on the way to spoiling, which is never good. I had this happen while I was traveling for work. The gasket failed on my old GE refrigerator, and I came home to a bunch of rotted and smelly food.
At this point, I hope you’ve been lucky enough to catch the door sitting open sooner than later!
Reasons Refrigerator Doors Won’t Stay Closed
Doors fail on all makes and models such as LG, Samsung, and GE for the same reasons:
The magnetic gasket on the door gets dirty and interrupts the sealing power of the door. In other words, the seal’s surface has lost its grip and no longer sticks.
The door may need to be adjusted because it is hanging too low, or the refrigerator is unlevel (which can be checked by simply placing a level on top of the refrigerator).
All of these reasons can lead to a door that will not stay shut or a refrigerator door not closing correctly in the first place.
Let’s get to fixin’, and cover all the root causes for your issue.
The Easy Way to Fix the Door That Won’t Stay Shut
“A Refrigerator Door Pops Open by Itself While Owner is Away” sounds like a scary movie title. Some people think that the easiest way to fix a troubling fridge door seal is to place a large brick in front of it. This is slightly less than practical!
An easier way to fix the door is to: Clean the gasket and door frame.
You can do this by mixing a quart of warm water and a teaspoon of baking soda or mild soap.
Be sure to clean the surface where the door touches and seal on the refrigerator’s metal door frame. You’ll be surprise at how dirty this gets (which no doubt affects how strong your door can stay closed!).
Wipe the seal down and dry well with a dry cloth.
If you find that there are hardened dirt and grime around the seal, let the soapy water soak into the dirt for a few minutes. Once it has had time to absorb the water, it will wipe away much easier (or at least with less elbow grease).
If your fridge and its seal is older than a few years you’ll want to “lube” up the surface of the gasket.
You can do this by applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the seal. Applying the petroleum jelly is done by cleaning the seal first and then using a clean cloth or fingertips to thinly coat all parts of the seal with the jelly. Remember to use Vaseline (pure petroleum jelly, not grape jelly!).
If you think that a complete door replacement would be easier, you might want to think again about fixing the problem. A complete doorreplacement can range between a couple of hundred dollars to over $1,000.
That said, if your fridge is aging and is more than 8 years old you are living on borrowed time. I get that if you still like the look of your refrigerator and it’s still keeping things consistently cold, why not keep it going for a few more years?
I’d recommend checking into some appliance insurance to safeguard against future issues you can’t easily DIY and pay less than $50 for in parts. Let’s face it, appliance repairs can be costly and aren’t always as easy as this one!
What if your fridge isn’t level?
Finding that your refrigerator door pops open because the appliance is not level is usually a straightforward fix:
You can try adjusting the feet at the bottom of the unit by turning them left or right until the level indicates a slight tilt to the back of the wall.
Use a wrench to adjust feet to make turning them a little easier. The adjustment will help the door to stay shut.
When Part Replacement Needs to Happen
Once you’ve checked out and completed all of the above steps, and you find that the brick is still the only way to keep your door closed, do not lose hope. It may just be that the door gasket needs to be replaced.
Signs the Gasket Needs Replacing
There will be obvious signs that the door seal needs replacing. You may find that:
- The door seal is split open, or it is in the process of falling off the door.
- Condensation on the seal means there is a leak.
- The seal no longer sticks to the metal frame of the refrigerator.
- The gasket has a touch of mold growing on it.
- The gasket is loose and feels like it will fall off.
How to Replace a Gasket Seal
Gasket seal replacement is not as hard as it may sound.
You find gaskets online or at most appliance stores. You will also find that universal gaskets work just as well as named brand seals made by Kenmore and Whirlpool. The cost of a new gasket ranges between $40 to $80.
It will depend on the make and model of the appliance you own.
Any fridge type’s seal can be swapped out.
Even if a side-by-side refrigerator door keeps opening, you can still find gaskets to fix them without much effort.
To replace the seal, you will want to:
1. Remove the old gasket by loosening the retaining screws. An excellent tip to remember is to lay out the new seal in warm water, so it loosens up and is not so hard to handle on installation.
2. Pull the old gasket away from the door frame.
3. Clean the area underneath the old gasket and dry with a clean rag.
4. Snap the new gasket seal into place.
5. Rub that petroleum jelly onto the new gasket.
6. To avoid having your seal stick to the refrigerator when opening the door, make sure to tighten the retaining screws.
This video can help give get you going:
By following these steps, you will have the guide you need to ensure that you get the job done right.
Q: Why is my refrigerator door magnet weak or not working?
A: Your magnet may be weak or not sealing well because it has become dirty or something is interfering with the magnetic seal. Over time the magnet may have lost its charge.
Q: Do they make a refrigerator door ajar alarm?
A: The simple answer to this question is “Yes.” Whirlpool makes a refrigerator with a door alarm.
When I bought my last refrigerator, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a beeping sound after my five-year-old failed to shut the door all the way! It was a bit confusing trying to discover where the beeping was coming from, but it saved us from losing some delicate food.
If you have an older refrigerator, you can purchase an add-on alarm to alert you that the door is left open. You can purchase the alarm for $20 to $30.
Q: Will the above remedies work on Freezer doors too?
The steps noted above will work on freezer doors as well. The science behind the gasket is the same for both appliances. Just repeat the steps above, and you will find it just as easy to fix the freezer problem.
I’m definitely rooting for you to fix your refrigerator gasket seal. The task may seem impossible at first, but as you get started, you are going to find out just how easy it is to fix the problem and never hear someone say, “The refrigerator door won’t stay closed!” or asking why the heck the milk tastes warm.