in the meantime my father and i replaced the door gasket on their fridge. i bought the gasket (WR24X450) off of ebay 2 weeks ago for $33.50. we first turned off the fridge, which was easy to do since it was still connected to the smart plug. we then removed the old gasket. it was actually very easy to do and we didn't need any tools. once that was done, we cleaned the door using a combination of multi-surface cleaner and magic sponge. we then installed the new gasket, which clipped into place.
since we were already cleaning, we ended up cleaning most of the fridge interior, removing drawers and shelves. my mother also helped out, cleaning up a syrupy leak at the bottom of the fridge that'd been there for a few years (that was one reason why she wanted to get a new fridge). we tossed out a lot of forgotten jars and containers of food, and for some reason i found a lot of really old chocolate.
when it was all over, the fridge felt like a semi-new refrigerator: old on the outside, but new on the inside. with everything better organized, it'll be easier to find things instead of the usual rummaging around.
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