The Dollar-Bill Test Everyone Should Do This Weekend

published Oct 9, 2020
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Someone holding up a dollar bill.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

If you have a dollar (or a fiver or a 20, you big spender, you!) and a couple of minutes to spare this weekend, you can check to see if your refrigerator has a glaring inefficiency. I’m talking about your fridge’s seal; the rubber gasket that goes all the way around the door. (There’s one around the freezer door, too.)

See, a fridge or freezer with a faulty seal will trigger the compressor to run in order to combat the compounding effect of the cool air that escapes from the unit and the warm air that leaks in. That’s not ideal when you’re trying to save energy. Or keep your appliance working in tip-top shape. Or prevent food waste.

And all of that brings me back to this dollar-bill trick.

You can check to make sure your fridge and freezer’s seals are as airtight as they should be without calling a repair person. All you need is a dollar bill and a few minutes. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Grab your dollar and head over to your fridge. Open the door and, starting at one edge, close the bill in the door with enough sticking out so that you can you grab it. Pull the bill and notice how much resistance you have. If the bill slides out with no effort, your seal is not as tight as it should be. Repeat this test along the entire seal on both doors, noting any trouble spots where the dollar slides out too easily. An easy-to-pull dollar could just mean that the seal is dirty (clean it with vinegar or a diluted bleach solution) and try the test again. If the seal is clean and your dollar still slides out, it likely needs to be replaced. The good news is that you can likely find a gasket for your fridge online (and you can easily put it on yourself) or you can get a pro to help you for a little more than the price of a service call. Fix that gasket and you’ll end up saving lots of dollars in the long-run.