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How to determine if a gasket needs to be replaced

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How to determine if a gasket needs to be replaced

While standing in front of a cooler door during and onsite gasket estimate, there are a couple of things to look for to determine that a gasket needs to be replaced.  First, look at the physical condition of the gasket.  The gasket should not be ripped or torn anywhere around the perimeter of the gasket.  Be sure to pull at the gasket to open up the expansion joint to see if any cracks or tears are hidden.  Many gasket profiles are complex and have multiple layers of material layered over each other.  If any cracks or tears are present, food debris can work into the gasket and bacteria, mold, and mildew will start to grow.  If many of the gaskets in a kitchen are ripped and torn, that might be a sign that the kitchen staff is not properly maintaining the gaskets.  Gaskets should be regularly wiped down with warm water and mild detergent to keep them clean and free of anything that could cause cracking or tears.  Second, close the cooler door and check the seal with the cooler box.  It is important to look at all 4 sides of the gasket to insure that the seal between the gasket and the cooler box is continuous and consistent.  Many gaskets have an expansion joint built into the profile that allows some flexibility with the seal.  It is ok if that expansion joint is pulled in some spots around the perimeter and not in others.  That is what it is designed to do.  What you want to look for is any gaps in the seal that is allowing cold air to escape from the cooler.  If you are working on a cooler door that is flush mounted and you cannot see inside to the gasket seal, try using either a flashlight inside the cooler to shine light out the door or run your hand along the closed door to feel for cold air leaking out.  If the gasket is working properly, you will not be able to see any light or feel any cold air coming out from the door.  If a flush mounted door is sticking out from the frame, it could be a sign of a gasket problem, but could also be from a warped door or door frame, so more inspection of the cooler is required.  During a gasket estimate, you might find a cooler door that has a sealing problem, but the gasket is in good shape.  Often times, shimming a hinge with a washer or heating up the gasket and stretching it to fit is all that is needed.