How to Replace a Freezer Door Seal

Freezer seals are essential to the proper operation of a freezer.

Replacing Your Seal

Figure 1, Seal attached by screwsFigure 1, Seal attached by screws
Without a proper seal, a freezer is less efficient. Air leaking into the freezer carries moisture that causes rapid ice buildup, often even faster than a self-defrosting freezer can remove it. Leaky seals can also cause freezer burn or partial thawing of items in the freezer.
Figure 2, press-in type seal

Turn off the freezer.

Remove the old seal. Most often, this will require removing the screws that hold the seal in place.

Clean the seal location so the new seal has a good surface for a seal. If the old seal was held in place by adhesive, it will be necessary to scrape or wash the old adhesive off in order to get a good bond with the new adhesive. Always use a plastic scraper when a scraper is needed so you don't damage the surface you are cleaning.

Install the new seal in the same way the previous seal was installed or per the instructions that came with the seal.

Place the battery-powered light in the freezer.

Check the new seal all the way around. Use the mirror to see some of the harder-to-reach areas.

Carefully heat the seal and reshape it where there are gaps. You want to warm the seal to make it soft, not bake or burn it. Try lower heat settings first, turning on high heat only if the low setting does not soften the seal material.

Remove the battery-powered light and turn the freezer back on.

Things You Will Need

  • Replacement seal Nut driver (check your refrigerator for size, but in the U.S. it most likely will be 1/4 inch or 5/16 inch) Hot air gun or hair dryer Small hand mirror Battery-powered light Replacement seal retaining clips if used. Plastic clips are sometimes used to hold the seal in place. These are difficult to remove without damaging them, so if your machine uses them, you should order replacement clips with the replacement seal.

Tip

  • Freezer seals fail for a number of reasons, but the most common is cracking with age. Many freezer seals have magnets in them, which improves seal function but also rubs against the seal material and causes it to fail. It is not expensive to repair a freezer seal yourself. You can usually order a replacement seal online from the manufacturer or through the place you bought it. Price will vary depending on the manufacturer and the seal complexity. There are many different types and styles of seal, but the most common by far is attached by hex screws under the seal (see figure 1). These screws also hold the inner door in place, so make sure you remove everything from the door shelves (if working on an upright freezer). Figure 2 shows a press-in seal that can easily be replaced without tools (other than the heat gun).

Warning

  • Warning! Use extreme care in heating the seal with a heat gun or hair dryer. Do not hold it too close to the seal or too long in one place. You want to soften the seal material, not bake it. If you harden or burn the seal material, it won't work. Start with the lowest heat setting and gradually increase it only if it does not work at the lower setting to soften the material.

About the Author

Walt Boelter has worked as an electrician, a submariner, a teacher, a facilities manager, a welder, and a writer among other things. He earned his associate's (City University, 1990), bachelor's (Excelsior, 1992), and master's degree in technical communications (University of Washington, 2005) all while working full time. He has been writing technical procedures and manuals since 1988.