How to Fix a Refrigerator Door That Doesn’t Shut Tightly
A loose or poorly-closing refrigerator door can be very frustrating, but you’re not alone in experiencing refrigerator problems, given the prevalence of these appliances in American homes. If you have a refrigerator door that doesn’t shut tightly, it can be tricky to handle. Maybe you have to take that extra moment to be sure it’s closed every time. Maybe you check every time you walk by the fridge to make sure a cracked-open door isn’t losing cold air into your kitchen. Or maybe your fridge just won’t close at all. If any of these problems sound familiar, you should take some easy steps to see if you can diagnose and solve the problem.
Continue reading this guide to find out more about how to fix a refrigerator door that doesn’t shut tightly.
Whenever you work on any appliance, in any capacity, it’s important to follow a few safety precautions along the way.
- Always unplug the appliance before working on it
- When moving the appliance, make sure that you don’t inadvertently disturb any connections, cords, or hoses
- Always wear appropriate clothing when working on an appliance (protective footwear, long sleeves, etc.)
- If an appliance is too heavy for you to move or lift, get someone to help
- Turn off any water supply to the appliance
- Turn off any gas supply to the appliance
- Don’t be afraid to seek professional help from an appliance technician if you’re over your head
First Check: Obstructions
One of the first and easiest checks you should make is to confirm that there aren’t any physical obstructions causing your refrigerator door to not shut tightly. Take a look inside your refrigerator cabinet for any containers that might be positioned in such a way that they would block the door. Also check for large food items (like watermelons, for instance) that might appear to fit in your refrigerator but may actually be putting pressure on the door. A final check should include examining crisper drawers, cheese or meet drawers, racks, and trays to be certain that they are all positioned correctly, closed if necessary, and not obstructing the door operations.
Second Check: Cleaning the Gaskets
The gasket is the flexible rubber and plastic seal around your refrigerator door that creates an airtight and temperature safe seal, keeping the door closed and the air inside cold. If the gasket is dirty, it may be necessary to clean it to get a good seal.
Use warm soapy water and a non-abrasive cloth to wipe the entire surface of the gasket. If your gasket has accordion-like folds or creases, be sure that you gently pull the gasket taut to clean inside each wrinkly on the rubber. Make sure that you’re looking for any built-up grime, grease, or major food particles. Once the gasket is clean, you can wipe it dry with a second clean cloth. Be sure not to leave any lint behind while you do.
Third Check: Level Your Fridge
A refrigerator door may also fail to shut tightly if the refrigerator is not level. On most refrigerator models, you can remove a bottom grill to expose the feet of the appliance. Consult your owner’s manual for the location of your grill and/or feet and their leveling screws.
Depending on your refrigerator and your home, it may be helpful to take the weight off the refrigerator by getting a friend to help you slightly elevate it with 2-by-4s or similar blocks. This might not be necessary depending on your tools and your fridge.
Use a pair of pliers to rotate the leveling feet clockwise or counterclockwise to bring the refrigerator to a more level position. Use a bubble level, laser level, or similar tool to make sure you’ve got everything even. If your refrigerator is equipped with leveling screws in place of or in addition to positional leveling feet, use a screwdriver to adjust those screws until the refrigerator is appropriately level.
Fourth Check: Door cam
If these first three steps have not helped your refrigerator door that won’t shut tightly, consider checking the door cam. For this step, you’ll have to turn the refrigerator and freezer thermostats to their lowest level or to their “off” position. Empty all the contents of your appliance, transferring them into a cooler or alternate cool location if necessary.
Consult your owner’s manual if necessary, and remove the screw that holds the hinge cover to the top of the refrigerator. Lift the hinge cover to expose the hinge inside. Remove the bolts that hold the hinge in place at the top of the refrigerator with a socket wrench or nut driver. Remove the hinge from the door assembly.
Hold the door firmly and lift upward to take it off of its hinges. Carefully remove it to a safe location where it will be out of the way. Open the nylon closing cam with a screwdriver or similar tool. You may have to pry it off to remove it completely. Consult your owner’s manual if you’re not sure what the door cam looks like. Replace the old cam with a new closing cam identical to the one you take out.
Once the new cam is installed, reverse these instructions to put your door back on. Replace all the content of your fridge, and don’t forget to put the settings back to the temperatures that you like in your appliance.
Need Some More Help?
We hope that this guide has offered all of the help and information you need to diagnose and fix your appliance problem. If not, don’t be discouraged. Home appliances are sophisticated machines, and it can be tough to understand and solve many of the problems that can occur over time. If you still need help, consider contacting a local appliance repair technician for more assistance. A professional technician skilled in refrigerator repair will be able to diagnose and fix your problem in no time flat.