For the last month or so I've noticed an odd effect with the
refrigerator door's magnetic gasket - On our top freezer GE box.
If I close the door very slowly during its last bit of closing I can
feel the magnetic gasket pulling on it through the last 1/8 inch or so
before it's fully closed. If I tug on the door immediately after it's
closed it takes what feels like a "normal" amount of force to break the
But, if I come back a few minutes after I've closed the door the force
required to break the gasket loose seems decidedly lower, almost like
either the magnets "got weaker" after the door closed or the door wasn't
really fully closed. Neither of which seems very likely.
I've tried the dollar bill trick all around the door and the gasket
doesn't seem to have any gaps anywhere.
Is this a "well known problem" (to everyone but me?
Yep, we all know about your problem, Jeff. ;)
Probably has something to do with the rubber part of the gasket
springing back and pushing the door out a hair after the magnet has
pulled the door shut and compressed the air space within the rubber
I believe it's called a refractory period - and, no, not that type.
But Jeff's description indicates that the required door opening force
is greatest immediately upon closing the door. I've never noticed a
vacuum effect in a fridge/freezer, but if that's what it was it would
take a while for the vacuum to be pulled.
Sounds like the vacuum effect to me, too. If you've ever used a
high-end Sub-Zero or a commercial freezer, you'll find that the door is
MUCH more difficult (next to impossible in a commercial freezer) to
re-open immediately after closing. As you close it, you hear the air
flow, and the door pulls itself for the last inch or more. I'm not
positive what causes this, be it some sort of automatic pump or just
the existing thermodynamics, but it's definitely there, it's definitely
not caused by the magnets, and it sure appears to be an intended
effect, not a "well known problem".
I'm guessing that you didn't notice this right away on your fridge
because the effect is not as strong. I never noticed it in my own
Frigidaire until I started working in a commercial freezer, and then in
my employers' home Sub-Zeros. In my experience, the more powerful the
fridge or freezer, the more powerful the effect.
Condensation of the moisture contained in the relatively warm air entering
the refrigerator onto the cold surfaces inside the unit creates a partial
vacuum which draws the door closed. The pressure differential created as a
result equalizes in a few seconds and is usually audible as a wheezing or
whistling sound. This effect is particularly noticeable with freezers.
Room temperature air of high relative humidity will also accentuate this
Warm air enters the cabinet when the door is opened and when the door
is closed a vacuum is created which kinda sucks the door closed....once
that air has started to cool down, opening the door is easier with less
of a vacuum inside.
Appliance Repair Aid
That makes sense if I understand what you are saying. The warm air is in
the process of being cooled while I'm in the act of closing the door,
and it's the rapid "shrinking" of that air volume which "pulls" the door
shut and also keeps it held in firmly immidiately afterwards.
Then, after a few minutes pass and the air inside has stabilized in
temperature enough air seeps in through the inevitable tiny leaks so
that the pressures equalize and the door is "less hard" to open later.
As far as a separate separate vacuum creating pump or fan goes, there
sure isn't one indicated on the schematic of our unit which is a nearly
20 year old GE. AFAIK from the two thermometers I always keep in the
freezer and and refrigerator compartments, it's still working fine,
albeit it prolly isn't as energy efficient as today's models.
(W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
"Truth exists; only falsehood has to be invented."
Earlier my frige was running, I opened the door it was still running,
then as I closed th door the switch closed I heard a bit louder fan
sound and the vacumm effect happened, so id say its the design.
I'd make a WAG that maybe what you heard start up was the fan which
circulates the air over the evaporator coil, through the freezer, and
down into the refrigerator. IIRC some of those are wired to cut off when
the door is opened so that they won't "blow the cold air out."
And, maybe the various restrictions to the flow of that air between the
freezer and refrigerator, including sometimes a frosted up evaporator
coil, might create slightly lower than atmospheric pressure in the
refrigerator box, and maybe even a little bit higher than atmospheric
one in the freezer, huh?
I'm always startled when I crank up the timer on our bathroom exhaust
fan and notice it pulls the not quite closed bathroom door open a bit
What we need now is to hear from the CE of the refrigerator division of
a major appliance manufacturer to find out if they deliberately design
in something to create a mild vacuum to help seal the door closed, or if
like shite, it "just happens.". <G>
Jeff (Yes, it's snowing like heck here in Red Sox Country and I don't
have anything better to do but wonder about refrigerator doors.)
Yeah, I have an old freezer that does that.
The fan sound is distinct.
It's really hard to open the door again if you wait
until the fan stops running, about 5 seconds.
After about 30 seconds it's OK again.
I think it's part of the anti-frost system.
It takes many years before I have to defrost the unit.
Close the door with a flat blade (not sharp) between the freezer and
the door seal. During the period where it is hard to open ,lever the
blade up tp break the seal . You will probably hear an inrush of air
and the door will pop with normal pressure.
This whole thing is actually a good indication that the seal is doing
If no one else has a better answer, I think in the second case, you
come back loaded for bear, prepared to expend any amount of effort to
open it, and so it seems to be easier than you expect. Get a cheap
spring scale --- they make them an inch by an inch by abou 6 inches,
all metal, with a scale -- and measure how much it takes.
I'll admit if I were you I'd be sure I was right. I have a few things
like this** but I haven't figured out how to measure them.
**When I'm lying in bed on my back, I can kick my leg at the hip away
from my head, and it seems to lift me from the bed on to my feet.
But kicking in that direction should push me into the bed . How come
it doesn't seem that way?
A couple other examples I forget.
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let
me know if you have posted also.
I don't know anything about how the refridgerator actually works, but
commercial grade refidgerators that most restaurants use have the
In purchasing one for a restaurant I worked at, the
salseman told me that the
feature you are describing was to help
regulate the temperatures inside. In
restaurants the temperatures
foods must be kept at are very specific. The door
is nearly impossible
to open when the temperature inside reaches a certain
point, this is to
give the condensor (or whatever cools your fridge) time to get
temperature back down where it's supposed to be to help prevent food
Or, at least, that's what the salesman told me when I asked about it.
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