Common Problems With a Freezer Door

refrigerator door with dirty gasket

A faulty freezer door is one of the most common issues with refrigeration units. When your freezer door is not functioning well, don’t rush into blaming the condenser and calling in an expert. The source of the problem may simply be your door being less airtight as a result of friction, worn out parts, debris, dirt or improper alignment. Read this article and find out how you can troubleshoot these problems in simple ways.

Freezer Door Not Closing Smoothly

Several factors can hinder your freezer door from closing as smoothly or tightly as it should. Friction at the door hinges due to debris can make the freezer door feel like it's rubbing against something when being closed.

Improper alignment—that is, the door not being leveled from the front to the back—can have a similar impact, and can be even worse when the door is seated on a broken caster or foot.

Another factor, limited to those with magnetic sealing, is the magnet trapping foreign materials, making it hard for the strip to seal the door shut smoothly.

To troubleshoot these problems, always start by ensuring the hinge is free of any debris. This requires regular cleaning or wiping around the hinge using a dishcloth. You can spray the hinges or apply Vaseline to avoid friction.

If your fridge has a broken caster or foot, that will need to be replaced so you can get the proper alignment or level that will enable the door to swing freely and open and close smoothly.

Magnetic sealing should always be wiped carefully to remove foreign materials it might have attracted. If the seal has become faulty, it should be replaced.

hand opening refrigerator door

Leaky Areas

Buildup of dirt in a gasket can cause gaps where air can leak out, causing loss of temperature and waste of energy (and money). When it comes to sealing the door shut tightly, every inch counts—check all the way around to make sure you're getting the tightest seal possible.

To clean out the particles you find, use warm water, soap, and any soft cloth. Make sure the cloth isn’t rough enough to cause significant scratching on the gasket, and use a towel to dry the seal and surrounding area after cleaning.

It's a good idea to do this every few months to make sure your freezer and fridge are working at their maximum efficiency.

Worn Out Gasket

In older devices, the gaskets can get degraded to the point they require replacement. Order your new part carefully to make sure it will fit. If you can, upgrade to one with a magnetic strip, which will help seal the door shut.

If the new gasket is wrinkled when you get it, you can smooth it out by either soaking it in hot water or warming it gently with a hairdryer.

When you're ready to install, move your frozen or sensitive foodstuffs and keep them in a cooler during the process. Once you're ready, unplug the refrigerator, lift the edges of the gasket, and use a screwdriver to remove all the screws.

After successfully removing the old gasket, align the new one in that position and screw it in. Then get those frozen pizzas back in place!

confused woman with open refrigerator door

Freezer Door Open for a Long Time

The inside of your freezer may look like an Antarctica, covered almost completely in frost and ice. This can push against the door, preventing a tight seal.

One of the major causes of this frost growth is leaving your door open for a long time, which raises the humidity level in the freezer. Maybe it’s your kids, or your indecision, or maybe your door just isn't closing automatically once opened.

In a situation where it doesn’t close on its own once opened, you can try adjusting the feet. Get a partner for this part—one of you can lean on the side so the other can reach the two-pedal feet on the side where the door opens.

Screw both feet in a few turns. This will enable the door to close on its own once the collected water is properly drained with a defrost. If the legs are already screwed in all the way, you might be able to make the two on the other side (the side with the hinge) a little longer by unscrewing them a bit.

If the problem isn't solved by adjusting the pedals, you may have a malfunction in your defrost thermostat.

Faulty Freezer Door Handle

Finally, your freezer may be working well but the door handle could be loose or broken—maybe from just a simple bump or jostle. Whatever the cause, it's pretty hard to use a fridge or freezer without the handle, so you'll probably want to address this before you get too hungry to think straight.

classic refrigerator with lever handle

If it's just loose, simply open the freezer door and tighten the small Allen screw on the inner door handle—most freezer and refrigerator door handles are held on with these.

If the handle's broken and the machine is still under warranty, you should be covered for a replacement part. If the warranty has expired, you should still be able to buy a replacement to match your model.

Remove the old handle and attach the new one using the mounting screw. These are usually located either inside, behind the handle on the front, or on the side of the door. Consult the manual of your model if you're not sure where to get started—these can usually be found online if you don't have the original.