One thing that is often overlooked, even by the most fastidious traveller, is fridge maintenance. If it works, it's ok! But unfortunately, this is not the case when it comes to the rubber seal around your fridge door.
Most DC or low voltage fridges, including 3-Ways do not have a heating element running around the door (like domestic models) to prevent condensation and mould which causes the rubber to harden and lose its ability to maintain a good seal.
The first sign of trouble is your fridge frosting up faster than usual, poor temperature and excessive running between cycles (which of course usually occurs when your vacation is well underway..). Defrosting a fridge full of food to carry out repairs is never fun, however, when seals are involved, this part may just be the least of your problems!
Failure to maintain the door seal can also prove extremely costly as most DC fridge door seals are not interchangeable which leaves you no alternative but to replace the complete door which can cost as much as $500 (that’s if the supplier carries stock). A replacement door is It’s definitely a worthwhile consideration if you’re looking to purchase a new fridge for your Motorhome, Caravan or Boat! It is also important to choose a brand with adjustable doors as a minor leak may be fixed with a little adjustment in many instances.
For everyone else prevention is better than cure, therefore, it is extremely important to monitor and maintain the condition of your fridge seal.
If you clean your door seals before they harden as part of your scheduled maintenance you will save time and elevate never have to do the bellow. Just give them a clean with spray and wipe or WD40 to prevent the mould building up in the first place.
The fridge seal may appear fine on the sides and the top of the door but the bottom part of the seal is where the problem begins. Run your hands around the seal and make sure it is soft and pliable. Most seals are black making it hard to spot mould or discolouration so all seems fine.
For the best result, the door should be removed so every nook and granny can be treated. I know in some cases this means removing the fridge from its cavity so if that is too much just do the best you can with the doors left in place.
First, you will need some mentholated spirits, a soft toothbrush or similar, a clean soft rag, a hair dryer (NOT A HEAT GUN) and some WD40. Start by brushing in the metho between the bellows of the seal on both the inside and outside of the door. Repeat this process and slowly massage the rubber with your hands until you can fully extend the seal. At first it seems to be doing nothing but just continues to brush in the metho giving it a wipe with the rag after brushing. You will notice the excess metho coming off black and sooty.
Next, spry some WD40 around the seal and brush it in as best you can. Wipe it off and check the rag for any signs of soot or muck still. If the rag is dirty give the seal another spray and massage in the WD40 as best you can.
Now if you have removed the door, take it outside a place it in direct sunlight and leave it sit for 15 minutes or until the seal gets warm and softens up. If the door is still connected to the fridge, take a hair dryer and warm the seal on low temp. Make sure you have wiped the seal clean of WD40 first before you run the dryer. Be careful when working the seal as the rubber should be very soft now and can easily tare if not treated with care.
Next, one last spray of WD40, rub it in and wipe it off. The door seal should now be soft and free again. I know it sounds like a lot of work but the disappointment of a poor performing fridge or having to defrost the fridge every three or four days makes it worth the effort, not to mention the compressor (and your beer) will be much happier too.