How to Fix a Refrigerator Door That Won’t Close

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When the refrigerator door suction isn’t working, the door isn’t able to close tightly. This reduces efficiency, and may cause a severe frost build-up over a short period of time. Learn the main reasons why a refrigerator door may stop working, and how to fix it.

Even though you may have a fridge with a powerful compressor, both your fridge and refrigerator sections will fail to maintain their cool if the doors don’t seal well. If you notice that the items inside aren’t as chilled as they should be, or ice starts to build up around the freezer coils, it’s time to investigate what’s going on.

If your refrigerator door suction is not working, there’s no need to break a sweat yet, as there are a few simple fixes. First thing to check is if the door shelves are overloaded—if not, check if the hinges are aligned, and the fridge isn’t tilted. If all seems good so far, inspect the gasket for dirt, and signs of wear and tear.  

Things you may need

  • New gasket to replace the damaged one
  • Screwdriver or nut driver to install the new gasket
  • 1-quart warm water to make cleansing solution
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda for cleansing solution
  • Mild soap
  • Toothbrush to clean dirt from gasket
  • Dry cloth/microfiber cloth to wipe down the gasket
  • Level tool to check if the fridge is properly aligned

Main reasons the door suction is not working

There is a myriad of different reasons why your freezer/refrigerator suction may not be working including a broken or damaged gasket (rubber seal running around the door), too much weight on the door shelves, a fridge that isn’t level or hinges being out of alignment.

We’ve analyzed the issue, and in most cases the same issues seem to appear again and again. Below are five of the main reasons why your freezer door isn’t shutting tightly on its own.

#1 Objects preventing the door from shutting

In the event this happens, the first thing you should check is if there’s anything sticking out of the fridge that’s preventing the door from being shut.

Next, check if there are things that may have been caught in between the door and the fridge when it was shut such as grocery bags hanging on a door knob right next to the fridge.

A plastic bag, whether it’s a bag of frozen peas or the shopping bag hanging on the door knob next to the fridge, could easily prevent the doors from shutting tightly and providing the seal needed to keep the contents cold and the refrigerator running smoothly.

This is an easy fix, and it’s quite surprising how big of an impact it has on the efficiency of a refrigerator.

#2 Too much weight in the door shelves

Refrigerators are available in different capacities, which is represented in cubic feet, and indicates the amount of food that can be stored inside the appliance.

Regardless whether you have a small or large capacity refrigerator, overloading the door shelves can cause issues with the suction.

Further, if you stack too many items in the door shelves, you may not only risk damaging the suction gasket, but also the hinges, as they are only designed to handle a certain amount foods and drinks.

Reorganize your fridge to remove any heavy items such as gallons of juice and milk from the door, and place it on the shelves inside. If these large items don’t fit on the shelves, you may want to replace the larger jugs with smaller ones, and set them neatly in the fridge.

#3 The freezer/fridge isn’t level

Great chances are that if your fridge isn’t level on the floor, its doors will not shut properly. To check the level, you can place a level tool on top of the refrigerator to check if the appliance is set properly.

To adjust the level of the fridge, you can rotate the levelling feet if your fridge is equipped with them to raise or lower the appliance. If your refrigerator is fitted with levelling screws, turn them clockwise or counterclockwise until the fridge is at the right level.

This may require you to pull out the fridge a bit, and if that’s the case we urge you to be careful not to scratch your floors or getting hurt. Place an old towel underneath the refrigerator, and make sure your feet are never directly underneath the appliance.

#4 Hinges could be out of alignment

The hinges of the doors of your refrigerator are susceptible to wear and tear after a long period of use. The hinges may become loose over time, so consider tightening them or replacing them if worn out.

If none of these fix the issue, then it’s time to take a closer look at the door seal.

#5 Gasket is dirty or broken

A refrigerator gasket, which is also known as the fridge door seal, is an elastic/rubbery strip attached to the exterior edge of the fridge or freezer. The gasket creates an air-tight seal between the cold air inside, and warm air outside the fridge.

This makes the gasket an important component of the refrigerator, and as such a damaged or broken gasket can affect the overall efficiency of the freezer/refrigerator.

Sometimes a dirty gasket may cause the door not to seal right, so cleaning it is a good idea before replacing the gasket.

Below we’ll explain how to either clean the gasket or replace it. It’s not as complicated as it may sound, but if you’re unsure how to do it, you could easily call a professional service provider in your local area.

Cleaning a dirty gasket

You can clean the gasket in three easy steps:

  1. Make your cleaning solution – mixing of 1-quart warm water with 1 tablespoon of baking soda, or use mild soap with water.
  2. Gently scrub the gasket – Dip an old toothbrush into the cleaning solution, and scrub every side of the seal of the gasket. Make sure you get the grime out from all the creases.
  3. Wipe the gasket – use a soft dry cloth or microfiber cloth to wipe down the gasket. To prevent grime from accumulating on the seal, it is a good practice to clean the gasket once a month.

Replacing a broken gasket

Even though replacing the gasket may seem like a technical-oriented task, it truly isn’t, and can be done easily by following a few simple steps.

  1. Before removing the damaged gasket, soak the new gasket in a bathtub or sink filled with warm water to make it more flexible, and easier to work with.
  2. Make sure your refrigerator is stable, and not rocking. If you’re comfortable working with tools, then you can remove the door completely by detaching it from its hinges, and laying it on the floor.
  3. Most gaskets are secured in place by a metal retainer, which is set around the perimeter of the door. Grab a screwdriver, lift the inside corner of the old gasket to see the screws, and only loosen the screws, as doing so may either detach the liner or the entire door.
  4. To remove the old gasket off the refrigerator door, grab its inside flange, and pull it back to gently pull it off the liner. But again, do this without dislodging the door screws.
  5. Before installing the new gasket, clean the area where it will go thoroughly. Dirt and other unwanted substances may have made their way under the old gasket, and removing them can create a better door seal.
  6. Start installing the new refrigerator gasket at one of the top corners, and set it behind the door’s metal clips.
  7. Next, use a screwdriver to partly tighten the screws, and then close and open the door to check if the seal lies flat. If the gasket is installed properly, you can now finish tightening the retainer screws.

When your fridge gasket is damaged or broken, circulated air inside the appliance can escape past the insulated doors, which can compromise the quality of the food inside, as well as increase electrical bills.

There are several ways to determine whether you have a deteriorating gasket, starting with cracking sealing strips. You may also notice smaller tears on the sides, and losing of the adhesive bond—all of which are clear signs of gasket damage.

In some cases, your refrigerator may also begin to function sporadically if you have a bad gasket such as turning off and on automatically to make up for the lost cool air.