When food starts going off, the refrigerator door may need some TLC.

How to Fix a Refrigerator Door That Doesn't Shut Tightly

by Chris Deziel

When your refrigerator door doesn't close properly, the refrigerator works double time to keep food cold, and your energy bill shoots up as a result. Most of the time, the problem is simple -- someone put a bottle in the door that doesn't fit, there are too many items on one of the shelves or the door gasket is dirty. Occasionally, however, the problem may be a worn door-closing bearing, which is part of the lower hinge. Fixing this isn't a difficult job, but you have to remove the door to do it.

1 Rearrange the items in the door and on the shelves, especially if the refrigerator is full. Even though it may not be obvious, a condiment bottle in the door may be hitting against one of the shelves inside the refrigerator, or an egg carton may be sticking out too far.

2 Wash the door gasket with a solution of all-purpose cleaner and water. When the gasket gets grimy, it doesn't make a seal. If the door has been ajar long enough, mold may have started to form on the gasket, compounding the problem. Treat the mold by adding a small amount of chlorine bleach to the cleaning solution. Wear rubber gloves and wash with a sponge.

3 Check the level of the refrigerator by putting a 4-foot level on top. If the bubble isn't centered, gravity may be making the door swing open. To adjust the level, unplug the refrigerator, remove the front grill from the bottom of the refrigerator and adjust the feet by turning them with adjustable pliers.

4 Remove the door to replace the hinge cam if all else fails. Before you do this, remove all the items from the door and unplug the refrigerator.

5 Unscrew the single screw holding the plastic hinge cap from the top of the refrigerator with a Phillips screwdriver. After removing it, unscrew the three screws holding the metal one under it and remove that.

6 Lift the door off the bottom hinge and lay it on a flat surface. Pry the plastic closing cam from the bottom of the door with a flat-head screwdriver. It's the plastic part into which the bottom hinge fits. Push a new one into the hole from which you removed the old one.

7 Clean the bottom hinge post with a rag and spray some lubricant on it. Set the door back on it and replace the hinge covers on the top of the refrigerator.

Items you will need

  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Rubber gloves
  • Sponge
  • 4-foot level
  • Adjustable pliers
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Door closing bearing
  • Rag
  • Spray lubricant

Tips

  • Don't forget to check the level in two directions. If the refrigerator is leaning toward the front or to one side, you may have to pull it out and adjust the back feet. Be sure it's unplugged before you do this.
  • After cleaning the door gasket, lubricate it with petroleum jelly to help it seal.
  • If you change the closing cam, have the replacement ready before you remove the door so you you can install it before any food spoils.

Warning

  • If the door is heavy, ask a family member for help. That's better than straining your back trying to do it yourself.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images