DIY: Refrigerator Repair

The refrigerator is one of the few appliances that never sleeps. While refrigerators of old lasted about 15 years, today's modern versions conk out soon after the five-year warranty expires. With some do-it-yourself repairs and maintenance, a homeowner can extend the life of a refrigerator another five to 10 years.


Cleaning the drains periodically is an easy project that can make a big difference in the efficiency of your refrigerator. Clear any clogs with a piece of flexible wire coat hanger. Using hot water, flush the area with a turkey baster. Pour a small amount of bleach down the hole to kill any mould, then reflush.

Gasket Repair

Before tearing off a slightly damaged door gasket, try this easy repair. Open the door and tape a sheet of waxed paper to the area where the gasket would meet the refrigerator if the door was closed. Close the door and draw a bead of silicone caulk over the damaged area of the gasket. With a wet cloth or paper towel, wipe off the excess caulk, cure the patch overnight and carefully remove the waxed paper.

Install a New Gasket

If the gasket is too damaged, installing a new one can be done competently by even a novice do-it-yourselfer. Loosen the screws in the metal retainer under the gasket until the lip of the gasket can be removed without tearing. Slowly pull the lip from under the retainer until the gasket is removed. Starting with the top of the door, press the new gasket under the rim of the retainer and work it in along the perimeter of the door. Smooth out the gasket, then tighten the middle screws on each side. Tighten the remainder of the screws to hold the gasket in place.


Exterior chips and scratches may not affect the efficiency of the refrigerator, but they can make a kitchen appear rundown. Repairs can be made with an epoxy kit available at home improvement or appliance stores. Clean the chipped area with soapy water, dry it, then sand it with medium sandpaper. Mix a 50/50 solution of the hardener and colour in the repair kit and brush it on.

Use automobile rubbing compound to get rid of light rust on the exterior of the refrigerator. It will rub away the stain without ruining the paint.

Clean Coils

To reduce the chance of compressor failure, unplug your refrigerator, move it away from the wall and vacuum the coils. Some refrigerators have a small grill in the front that can be snapped out and cleaned.

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About the Author

Susan DeFeo has been a professional writer since 1997. She served as a community events columnist for New Jersey's "Cape May County Herald" for more than a decade and currently covers the family and pet beat for CBS Philadelphia. Her health, fitness, beauty and travel articles have appeared in various online publications. DeFeo studied visual communications at SUNY Farmingdale.