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How to Repair a Refrigerator

Servicing Door Hinges

A worn or broken door gasket may not be the cause of door leaks. Misaligned and loose door hinges can cause the door to rock or sag slightly, making even a well-fitted gasket ineffective.

Step 1: If the door won't shut tightly, tip the refrigerator slightly backward by propping up the front of the unit or unscrewing the front leveling legs two complete turns. Experiment with this adjustment until the door stays closed, but don't tip the unit very far out of front-to-back level.

Step 2: If leveling doesn't work, tighten the hinge screws. You may have to open the door (especially the freezer door) to turn these screws. On some units, you may have to remove a hinge cap or trim to reach the screws; pry off the cap or trim with a screwdriver. Sagging and looseness can be corrected by shimming the door hinges. Loosen the hinge and place a hinge-shaped cardboard shim between the hinge and the door. Then tighten the hinge again. Sagging may also be caused by a wrongly placed shim. In this case, you can correct the problem by removing the shim. Experiment with the shims; you may be able to eliminate the sagging.

Step 3: If the door is warped, tighten the screws that hold the inner door shell to the outer door shell. You may have to change or adjust the door gasket after making this adjustment.

Step 4: Check the catch. Newer units have a magnetic catch on the door. If the door doesn't latch properly, remove the magnetic strike from the inner door shell and shim it slightly with a piece of thin cardboard. You may have to adjust the gasket to conform with the new shim.

Servicing the Door Switch

On the refrigerator door jamb, locate a small push-button switch. This component operates the light inside the refrigerator. If the switch is malfunctioning, the light in the unit may stay on, and the heat from the lightbulb can cause cooling trouble in the box.

Step 1: Check the bulb to see if it is burned out. If not, depress the push button on the door switch.

Step 2: If the light stays on, clean the switch with a cloth. Then remove the switch from the jamb. Remove retaining screws hidden by a plastic trim piece, pry the switch out of the jamb with a screwdriver, or pry off the jamb trim to expose the switch. Then test the switch with a VOM set to the RX1 scale (instructions for using the VOM are given on page 19).

Step 3: Clip one probe of the VOM to each terminal of the switch and press the push button. The meter should read zero. If the needle on the scale moves above zero, replace the switch with a new one of the same type.

Step 4: Connect the new switch the same way the old one was connected.

Now that we have thoroughly exhausted door repair, there's nothing left to do except move inside and learn about the internal components of a refrigerator. In the next section, you will learn everything from how to repair a leak to how to service your ice maker.