One of life’s great mysteries could be what makes the refrigerator door close automatically.
At some point during childhood, nearly every kid tries to open or close the door super slow just to watch the light go on or off.
It’s a famous mystery for many curious minds, and it all stems from the automatic closing feature.
Solving the great refrigerator light mystery might not be as exciting as an adult, but something is satisfying about it. Not only can you impress any children in your life, but you can also resolve one curiosity from your youth.
Sadly, the answer might not be as exciting as you hoped.
Refrigerators tilt slightly towards the back of the door. This feature allows your fridge to swing shut to preserve the freshness of the food inside.
Refrigerators are made with a slight tilt towards the back for gravity to do its part in closing the door when necessary. Gravity is not the only thing at work on a refrigerator door.
Refrigerators have a sealing gasket and magnetic strip built into them. The surface of your refrigerator isn’t the only magnetic part of it – the door frame is also magnetic.
This arrangement keeps your refrigerator closed and prevents your food from getting spoiled throughout the day.
If you’re prone to leaving doors open, even just a crack, you might be thankful for that automatic closing feature. However, it wasn’t always the case.
What led somebody to create that option, and should a refrigerator door close by itself?
Look at the history of refrigerators, specifically their safety. In the past, refrigerator doors featured large handles to open and close them only from the outside.
Unfortunately, this arrangement led to many safety hazards in situations involving children.
Imagine it! On an extremely hot day with no fans or air conditioning to keep them cool, a child climbs in to cool off.
Unfortunately, the children could not reopen the refrigerator door from the inside, thus leading to health and safety concerns.
Now, refrigerator doors are open from the inside and the outside, explaining why the magnetic door frame feature most refrigerators have today.
TIP: If you have an older refrigerator, even for show, there are child-proofing devices that you can attach to keep kids safe.
We all know that shutting the door keeps the food inside of the refrigerator cold so that it’s safe to eat.
However, there is another key reason to keep that door sealed tight. While your parents weren’t completely correct about holding the refrigerator door open too long, they weren’t wrong either.
Every time you open the door, cold air escapes, and the motor has to run to cool the unit again. A perpetually running refrigerator can seriously impact your home energy bills.
So, not only does keeping your refrigerator and freezer open compromise the well-being of your food, but it also costs you more whenever you get billed by your electric company.
TIP: If you notice that your refrigerator is running more than usual, check the seal on the door to make sure it’s functioning properly.
Now, to be fair, it can get a bit frustrating when you’re trying to stock your refrigerator with your new groceries, and it keeps closing before you can get the next thing in.
There are two simple ways to fix this problem.
Open Your Refrigerator Door Wide
Opening the fridge door all the way can keep the door open for longer, thus allowing you to stock more items in your fridge before it decides to shut again.
Adjust Your Refrigerator’s Grounding Level
This solution requires some physical work, but it will get the job done and get your fridge back to normal in no time.
As mentioned above, most refrigerator designs tilt slightly toward the back legs. This design helps gravity do its due diligence in closing your refrigerator door when necessary.
You can adjust the leveling of your refrigerator by adjusting the leveling screws at the base of your refrigerator and making it stand more upright.
To adjust the level, pull the refrigerator forward slightly so that less of its weight rests upon the rear legs and leans more straight-up or forward on your floor.
Adjusting the leveling screws reduces the gravitational pull on your refrigerator so that the door won’t swing closed quite as fast.
We’ve touched on this topic quite a bit throughout the article already, but it never hurts to go more in-depth with the knowledge you can gain about human inventions, right?
Mainly, refrigerator doors close automatically to maintain a regulated temperature and circulation to keep your groceries fresh while you’re away.
Many modern refrigerators come with a magnetic, rubber sealing gasket that helps to keep the door closed at all times.
The sealing gasket’s magnetic makeup can automatically close your refrigerator door. Even if your door is only slightly open, it will automatically shut to keep the cold air inside.
The seal even prevents air from escaping through small cracks and crevices in the lining.
Say you’ve had a modern refrigerator and a part of the rubber lining along the door frame has been ripped or broken.
In such a case, air will escape through wherever the rubber lining is unsealed, and in turn, will allow warmer air to flow into your refrigerator.
This warm air eventually begins to have large effects on the well-being of your refrigerated groceries, as it begins to warm the inside of your refrigerator.
TIP: Run your hand along the edges of your refrigerator doors. You should not feel any cold air seeping through the seal. If you notice leaks, it’s time for a repair.
If you have a broken sealing gasket, you need to replace it as soon as possible to avoid further issues. It can be tricky to fix your broken gasket, but not impossible.
However, if you aren’t handy or worry about further damaging your fridge, you might want to hire somebody.
Replacing a refrigerator sealing gasket requires a screwdriver, an Allen wrench, and a new sealing gasket. Use the screwdriver to loosen the screws around the door frame to release the damaged sealing gasket.
Most refrigerator door frames feature a metal retainer that keeps the rubber gasket in place. You can find this retainer by pulling the old gasket away from the door frame.
The retainer is held in place by screws, so for this part, you’ll simply use a typical screw and nut driver to loosen the screws holding the retainer in place.
Most rubber gaskets easily snap onto the door frame retainer. You’ll simply snap the new gasket into place.
TIP: Before installing your new sealing gasket, it helps to soak it in warm water. Soaking the part makes it more pliable.
Once you’re done, carefully screw everything back in place. Don’t forget to tighten all of the screws to make sure they hold tight. Test the refrigerator door to make sure it closes properly.
Now you know what makes the refrigerator door close automatically, how it came to be, and why it matters.
Plus, you picked up some helpful tips on how to keep your refrigerator door in working order to prevent safety issues and prolong the life of your unit.
Hopefully, the little kid in you is feeling satisfied with having one mystery solved.
Maybe you even feel better knowing that it’s alright to hold the door open a little longer while you ponder your evening snack.