Why Does A Refrigerator Door Close Automatically? (Explained)

Image of a refrigerator door closing automatically

For a refrigerator to operate efficiently, you should keep its door closed. It’s alright to keep the door open for a short time when placing food inside or taking it out. However, leaving it open for long will affect its cooling and compromise food safety. It will also lead to excess electricity consumption. Fortunately, modern refrigerator doors are designed to automatically shut if you accidentally leave them slightly open. So, what makes the refrigerator door close automatically?

Refrigerator doors automatically close because they have a sealing gasket with a magnetic strip that pulls the door back when it’s open and seals it tightly against the frame. Refrigerators are also slightly tilted toward the back. So gravity helps to pull back an open door to the closed position.

Let’s talk about this in greater detail now.

Why Should You Keep The Refrigerator Door Closed?

The refrigerator is a food safety device. It extends the shelf life of its contents by keeping them at a low temperature.

So, food doesn’t spoil as soon as it does at room temperature.

Refrigerators maintain a steady temperature of forty degrees or less.

At this temperature, bacteria that cause food spoilage and food-borne illnesses can’t survive.

If the temperature of the refrigerator increases, microorganisms grow and damage the food stored in a refrigerator.

Now, the refrigerator is a closed environment. It can’t maintain a consistent low temperature unless the door stays shut.

A properly sealed door traps the cold air inside the refrigerator and keeps the contents fresh.

When you open the door, cold air inside the refrigerator escapes, and warm air from outside enters into it.

The cooling efficiency will not be affected if you leave the door open for a short while.

However, if the door is open for too long, the temperature starts rising.

In this case, the compressor must work extra hard to cool the refrigerator, so it consumes extra power during this process.

This results in a higher electricity bill.

So, it’s not wise to open the refrigerator door unnecessarily or leave it open for too long.

How Does A Refrigerator Door Work?

Did you know that the refrigerator door is magnetic? That explains why magnets attach to it.

Now, here is an interesting fact. Refrigerator doors did not always look like this.

Old-school fridges had handles to shut and open the door.

However, this led to several unfortunate mishaps involving refrigerators and children.

So, the 1956 refrigerator safety act was passed in the USA.

It made it compulsory for all refrigerator manufacturers to ensure that refrigerators doors open from the inside.

Following this, the door design was changed. Refrigerator manufacturers added weak magnetic strips to the doors.

These strips would ensure that the door formed an air-tight seal with the gasket.

Meanwhile, it would also be easy to open from the inside.

The gasket around the door seals the air inside the refrigerator.

This cool air keeps the food fresh at a low temperature.

Recommended Further Reading:

Why Does The Refrigerator Door Close Automatically?

We already saw that it’s critical to keep the refrigerator door closed at all times.

If the door remains open for a long time, it offsets the internal temperature balance and compromises the quality of food stored in it.

Ideally, a refrigerator should have a temperature of forty degrees.

When you keep the door closed, cold air circulates within the compartment.

The compressor of the refrigerator maintains this constant temperature.

Now, if the door is open, the compressor tries to maintain the same low temperature.

However, hot air from outside displaces the cold air within.

When this continues for a long time, the compressor can’t maintain a low internal temperature.

This compromises its operational efficiency.

Moreover, the longer the door is left open, it causes the inside of the refrigerator to become warm.

As it’s of vital importance to keep the door shut, refrigerator doors are designed in such a way that they automatically close if you accidentally leave them open.

These doors have a rubber gasket lining and magnetic strips.

So, if the door is slightly open, the magnets will pull it back into the closed position.

Another clever design detail refrigerator manufacturers use is a slight tilting of the refrigerator towards the back.

The small angular tilt helps the door fall back to the closed position if it’s slightly ajar.

However, if you keep the door wide open, neither the magnetic strips nor the tilt will help the door close.

Should A Refrigerator Door Close By Itself?

A wide-open refrigerator door will not swing shut on its own.

However, if you open it just a bit, it should close by itself and form an air-tight seal.

The gasket is the rubber strip that goes around the door’s edges.

This gasket forms an air-tight seal with the door and keeps the cool air inside.

The door may not close tightly if the gasket is dirty or loose. It may also have moved away from the groove.

If your refrigerator door doesn’t stay closed, you can run your hand along the gasket to check if it’s dirty or loose.

You can get rid of any grime build-up by cleaning it with soapy water.

If the gasket has moved out of its position, gently nudge it back into the groove where it belongs.

However, if you are dealing with an old refrigerator, the gasket may be cracked or damaged.

You may have to replace the gasket to make the door close tightly.

Now, if the gasket is not causing the problem, it may be due to the following issues:

  • Items inside the refrigerator can block the door. Try repositioning the contents of the fridge until the door seals shut.
  • The door is overloaded. When you stuff the door shelves with heavy items, it can weigh them down and cause misalignment. Remove some items from the shelves to reduce the load on the door. It should resolve the problem, and the door should remain shut.
  • The door may not close if the refrigerator level is uneven. If you have moved your refrigerator recently, check if the base is uneven. You should be able to rotate the leveling feet to make it even, and the door may close on its own.
  • The closing hinge may also get stuck and prevent the door from closing. If it is malfunctioning, you may have to replace it. Use recommended spare parts by the refrigerator manufacturer to fix the problem. If you are unable to handle the task yourself, hire the help of an authorized service technician.

Interesting Further Reading:

How Do You Stop The Refrigerator Door From Closing?

You may get frustrated if your refrigerator door keeps closing before you finish unloading things into it.

Here are two simple ways to fix this problem.

  • Open the door wide: Most refrigerator doors close by themselves if you leave the door open at an angle of 45 degrees or less. However, if you open the door wide, like at an angle of 90 degrees, it will not slam shut.
  • Adjust the refrigerator level: The refrigerator door will slam shut if the base is not even or steady. Check the base level of the refrigerator and ensure that it’s not tilted. The door tends to close quickly if the rear feet are lower than the front feet. You can use the leveling screws at the base to correct this problem and restore it to the right level.


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