She don't seal like she once did
July 15, 2010 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Replacing a refrigerator door seal: handy homeowner project, or professionals-only procedure? plus related questions.

I have a Crosley Shelvador (age unknown, looks like ~20 years, single door, no freezer, badge says "Commercial - Home Use) that drools water from the front interior.

Upon inspecting the door gasket and performing the dollar bill test, I find that the seal in fact is obviously defunct and needs replacing.

My first question is, where do I find the model number for this? I've looked all the likely places.

Second question, does this seem like a likely fix for the dripping problem?

Third, assuming I can find the replacement part, is this something I, a reasonably handy homeowner, can do? I read something about how you can warp the door when you undo the screws that hold the gasket in, and it's got me nervous. If you've done it, do you have any tips for me?
posted by ottereroticist to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have answers to your first two questions, but the third answer is a Yes, you should be able to do this. I watched my dad do it once, and it was fiddly and took him a longer time than he expected, and it was a little frustrating, but he was successful.

Don't, if you can, do what I did, which was to try to save a few bucks online by buying a used gasket. The one that arrived was less pliable than the one I had, and I was never able to properly seat it. I finally gave up and just got a new fridge. But if you're able to find a (preferably new) gasket, it should be something you can do.
posted by ldthomps at 10:21 AM on July 15, 2010

Best answer: The drip is likely caused by a clog in the defrost drip tube. Pull the fridge out and look at the back to find a rubber hose. If it's like our fridge, its probably held in place by a wire spring clamp that you can remove by squeezing with you fingers of a pair of pliers I cleared ours out with a straightened coat hanger (be careful not to puncture it)
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:47 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: ...or if you can figure out where the defrost drip hole is on the inside, you might try flushing it out with a few blasts from a turkey baster filled with water.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:49 AM on July 15, 2010

Response by poster: The drip is pretty obviously coming from the interior of the refrigerator. Water coming from under the produce bins seems to be leaking through the door gasket.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:04 AM on July 15, 2010

Best answer: Yes, it will come from the interior if the tube is plugged. Hunt around to see if you can figure out where the drainage hole is on the inside. It just might be easier to look in the back and remove it so you can clean it out.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:18 AM on July 15, 2010

What? Wait! Sorry, I missed the bit that says there's no freezer. I have no experience with such a beast.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:22 AM on July 15, 2010

Best answer: By far the best thing I've found to clean one of those tubes out is a bicycle brake cable or gear cable.

Insert the narrow end (not the end with the ferrule on it) and use a brand new one, because the wires that make up the cable are fused together at the very end of a new cable, but that's normally clipped off during installation, leaving the end prone to fraying. Don't let the ferrule go down into the tube either; if it gets stuck you will never ever get it out.

I've had trouble getting the warp out of my refrigerator door. I read a recommendation to take the handle off the door, the door off the fridge, lay it the door down on its back on a flat surface and tighten everything in place that way.
posted by jamjam at 11:26 AM on July 15, 2010

I can't address the drip problem exactly, but Family Handyman has instructions for replacing the gasket.
posted by killy willy at 11:57 AM on July 15, 2010

Your Crosley is way more than 20 years old - probably closer to 50. I have replaced refrigerator seals but the first step is to find the part in stock. You might want to start with an online vintage appliance forum for collectors.
posted by tizzie at 1:25 PM on July 15, 2010

I replaced a gasket on a fridge once. It was a PITA, but I got it done. The gasket itself was purchased at a place that clearly only did contractor business (ie, no sales floor, just a guy a counter and a phone). Removing the interior of the door was easy, removing the old gasket was easy. Putting in the new gasket was where it started to get tricky.
Over-tightening screws is what can cause warping. To prevent this, work from one corner to its opposite, tightening slowly, so that everything stays aligned. You may need to disassemble and start over, but that may just have been me.
posted by Gilbert at 1:59 PM on July 15, 2010

I've also done the gasket on several fridge doors. Real pain in the ass, worst was a side-by-side unit. There's just about a BAJILLION screws all around the door. A power screwdriver is fine for removing all of them. But use a hand screwdriver to make the final tighten on them lest you strip out the holes. Be sure to use the CORRECT size screwdriver bit.

Best advice is remove the door and do the job with it laid flat on across a bench or table. That way you won't have gravity working against you causing the gasket to slip downward. That and you don't kill your back trying to get to those ones at the bottom.

But also consider that the power consumption on this unit might be a lot more than on newer ones. Might be less expensive in the long run to replace it.
posted by wkearney99 at 9:11 PM on July 15, 2010

If the gasket isn't too far adrift, heat it with a hair dryer and stretch it.
posted by nicktf at 10:47 PM on July 15, 2010

Aside from the obvious causes for excess moisture and or leaking as you describe your compressor may be weak and not able to achieve proper evaporation temperatures and is performing more as a dehumidifier than a fridge.

I would follow the advice of some of the previous posters and check to make sure your defrost drain is not blocked and when you are sure it is clear tape over the door seal over night and see what it looks like in the morning.

If its still generating too much moisture your compressor is weak or you have a sealed system leak or an air leak you missed.

If its nice and dry then you can get a new seal made up I dont know if I'm supposed to actually give out a name or not so if you want to know pm me I guess.

Good luck!
posted by barstool at 12:18 AM on July 16, 2010

Response by poster: barstool, it's fine to give a specific referral, so why don't you post it here for future searchers.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:55 AM on July 16, 2010

Ok I use Reliable parts for most of my appliance parts purchases including door gaskets.

I'm hoping this is an auxiliary fridge as you will need to send the old gasket away to get a proper one made.

I would take note of the condition of the plastic around the edge of the door liner where the seal fits as they tend to deteriorate and crack after a number of years and may prevent a proper fit.

You may also need to use a hair dryer on low to train the seal haha to fit against the sealing surface.

I rarely recommend dumping a bunch of money into an older unit unless it has aesthetic or sentimental value as they are quite a bit less efficient and thus more expensive to operate.
posted by barstool at 8:34 AM on July 16, 2010

Response by poster: Replacing the gasket wasn't hard (once we figured out the model number, which was nowhere to be found, and required a call to the helpful people at Crosley). But it didn't fix the problem. bonobothegreat and jamjam were right -- it was the condenser drip tube after all.

I called a guy off the Internet who cleared it out by pouring hot water through it, and now the floor is dry, and I am happy.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:46 PM on September 29, 2010

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