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Tundra’s Tech Talk helps you learn how to fix you restaurant & food service equipment on your own – DIY. Ask one of our experienced technicians a question, or learn about other equipment we’ve already helped other readers with.

Commonly Asked Commercial Kitchen Equipment Questions

QA-TundraHere at Tundra Restaurant Supply, we strive to be more than just an online retailer. We believe in creating a better customer experience for you, which means that we offer one-to-one customer support to help you with your food service equipment, supplies and parts questions.

Over the years we’ve received several questions in our customer service department, through our social media channels, and here on the blog. We decided to feature 3 commonly asked questions we’ve received—check to see if any of these sound familiar!

Question #1 – At what time of day do you filter fryer oil?

“I work at a chain restaurant and the GM there doesn’t want us to filter the fryers at close but instead wait until open to do it. Is that safe for the oil?” –Wally

Answer: Morning is probably safest

Working with hot oil is one of the top commonly reported burn injuries in the kitchen. By waiting until the morning, you’re giving the oil ample time to cool, plus it shouldn’t affect the quality of the oil either way. For more about safely working with oil in the kitchen, check out this list of safety procedures from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration »

The most important thing, of course, is to filter the oil on a daily basis—so we applaud you and your company for this practice, Wally! Not only does it affect the quality and taste of the food you’re serving, but it directly affects the longevity of your frying oil and commercial deep fryer and you’ll most likely save yourself a service call if you practice proper oil maintenance from the start. For the tips on proper fryer maintenance, check out our Commercial Deep Fryer Buying Guide »


Question #2 – What causes a lot of soot and blue and yellow flames in our gas stove?

“Our gas stove is creating a lot of soot and the burners are shooting large blue and yellow flames” –Maria

Answer: Cleanliness is next to…

…you know how it goes.

Soot is typically an indicator of a dirty stove. That, paired with large flames, implies that you may be burning lots of debris in your gas stove. Stoves with soot often experience significant heat loss since the soot acts as an insulator; there is less room for combustion and natural venting, resulting in a smothered flame and a dramatic drop in heating efficiency. For more about cleaning and maintaining your foodservice equipment, review this user guide from the Southern California Gas Company »

If however, your oven is spotless, then you might want to see if it’s a gas pressure issue controlled by the gas valve itself. The valve helps regulate gas pressure to create a steady flow while simultaneously preventing any leaks.


Question #3: If I see flames coming from my deep fryer, should I call a technician?

“I have a deep fryer that has worked fine for nearly five years. However, the last two times I tried to use it there were flames coming out of the bottom of the burners. When I shut off the burners there were small flames coming from orifices at the bottom of the burner that looked like pilot lights. They died out after a couple of seconds. Does that sound like a repair job or a matter of cleaning? Where should I start to trouble shoot this problem?” –Kevin

Answer: Good ol’ fashioned elbow grease (sort of)

Fact: Grease and flames don’t mix.

One of the main reasons commercial deep fryers ignite is due to grease build up. After repeated splashing of oil from fryer baskets, a coating of grease can accumulate and harden on top of the exhaust stack. The residue might resemble a pumice brick instead of a grease buildup, and will become an excellent fuel source that’s easily ignitable. As with all equipment in your kitchen, keep your deep fryer clean and you can prevent something much more costly than a simple service call.

Have a question for the Tundra team? Contact us online or give us a call at 888-388-6372!

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Repairing Commercial Refrigerators

One of the most common problems reported for refrigerators is, “My refrigerator doesn’t get cold enough!”

When your refrigeration unit isn’t getting down to temperature, it pretty much defeats the purpose of having a refrigerator in the first place. Not only are you at risk for serving potentially spoiled and unsafe product (making diners sick and costing you in fines), but how much is that wasted product going to hurt your bottom line?

Here are four common reasons your refrigerator might not be getting as cold as it’s supposed to:

  1. Compressor Motor
  2. Condenser Coils
  3. Evaporator Fan Motor
  4. Temperature Control Thermostat

Leave your refrigerator on to diagnose issues, but be sure to unplug your refrigerator before you begin any hands-on work!

1. Compressor Motor. Check to see if your compressor is running. This rather expensive part on your refrigerator acts as a motor and a pump that moves the refrigerant around the system. Sensors track when the temperature in your refrigerator rises above its set point and signals the compressor to start. If the compressor is damaged or simply worn out, the cooling effect becomes less efficient, resulting in a fridge that can’t get cold enough.

First things first—put your ear to the compressor and see if you hear a humming sound or other steady noise. The compressor is typically located at the bottom of the refrigerator and accessed from the back of the unit. If you do, not hear a sound that is the first indication that something is wrong with the compressor. If you do in fact hear a steady humming, this indicates that your compressor motor is running and it could be another component that works in conjunction with the compressor to cool your refrigerator.

FIRST – UNPLUG your refrigerator prior to proceeding with any work on it.

Look up the make and model of your refrigerator and purchase the proper compressor for your unit. Unplug the current compressor by detaching the wiring and valves and uninstall the mounting hardware. Install a new compressor with the proper wiring code. Ensure your refrigerator has the proper refrigerant present for your unit in order to get the new compressor up and running.


2. Condenser Coils. The condenser coils found at the back of your refrigerator are responsible for getting heated refrigerators cooled. If your condenser coils are dirty, you may find that your refrigerator is unable to cool properly; this is due to the fact that dirt acts as an insulator, preventing heat to dissipate and the refrigerant left unable to cool. Plus, overheating could cause your compressor to stop working, causing the entire refrigerator to stop working as well.

FIRST – UNPLUG your refrigerator prior to proceeding with any work on it.

Cleaning your condenser coils is easy and doesn’t require a technician. Use a vacuum to remove loose dust. A duster may help remove dust from the coils as well. If you find that neither a vacuum nor duster is removing the grime entirely, try a damp rag soaked in soapy water. Be sure to wipe the coils and allow them to dry completely before plugging your refrigerator back in. Regularly clean your condenser coils for maintenance.


3. Evaporator Fan Motor. The evaporator fan motor circulates cold air from the coils throughout the rest of the refrigerator. Depending on your refrigerator model, your unit could have one or more of these motors. If the evaporator fan motor is not working, no cold air will be able to circulate, thus preventing your refrigerator from getting down to temperature. Do you hear a rattling noise? Or does your compressor run but the fan doesn’t? You might need to investigate further.

FIRST – UNPLUG your refrigerator prior to proceeding with any work on it.

Check your motor by first turning the fan blade by hand. If the motor’s shaft is hard to turn, it might be gummed up with dirt. If the fan turns freely, continue by checking the wiring connections. Disconnect, and search for the appropriate evaporator fan motor for your unit before reconnecting again.


4. Temperature Control Thermostat. The temperature control thermostat is a dial (or digital readout) that allows users to set an internal temperature on a refrigerator. The dial itself doesn’t set the temperature, rather it permits power to flow through to the compressor. As the cooling process regulator, a defective or broken temperature control thermostat could be responsible for a refrigerator that’s unable to get down to temperature.

FIRST – UNPLUG your refrigerator prior to proceeding with any work on it.

If you suspect something is wrong with the temperature control thermostat, pull the control knob off and set aside. Remove the screws that secure the control housing and carefully lower the control housing as much as you can. Once you release the support brackets, disconnect the wires (it helps to snap a picture beforehand so you can wire it back into place afterwards). Remove your existing unit and replace with a new temperature control thermostat.

Is your refrigerator acting up? Contact us online or give us a call at 888-388-6372.

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How Refrigeration Thermostats/Cold Controls Work

Macro detail of typical refrigerator thermometer.

The first step to understanding how refrigeration thermostats (aka cold controls) work is to understand a counter-intuitive fact about refrigeration physics:

Cooling is achieved by sensing and removing warm air, not by adding cool air.

A thermometer, then, measures how much heat is present. If the heat level reaches a certain, um, level, the refrigeration mechanism kicks, and the refrigerant starts its trip through a maze of intestine-like coils, and the warm air is removed.

That’s the big picture, anyway. Let’s dive in and explore the process in greater detail.

A refrigerator thermostat/cold control is basically the brains of the refrigerator cooling system—it runs the show.

Thermostats are typically found inside the refrigerator and have a knob that allows users to adjust the temperature setting. Once a user sets the desired temperature, the thermostat maintains that temperature by controlling the flow of electricity to the compressor. If the thermostat is the brain, the compressor is the heart of the operation, responsible for pumping the refrigerant through the coils.

When the air inside the refrigerator is at the desired temperature, the thermostat stops the flow of electricity to the compressor. When the thermostat senses too much heat, it allows electricity to flow, activating the compressor.

How does the thermostat control the electricity, you ask?

In most commercial refrigerators, the thermostat has a capillary tube filled with gas. As the temperature in the fridge increases, the gas expands and pushes on a diaphragm, which operates a set of contacts which in turn operates the compressor.

Pretty cool, huh?

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Tundra’s Toolbox: Putting the ROI in DIY

Assorted tools

Here’s a lesson we’ve learned about the restaurant and food service business:

The more stuff you can fix on your own, without having to hire pricey contractors, the more money you can save. And when you save money, you feel good. Fix stuff, feel good. Rinse and repeat.

Fortunately, food service professionals are already a handy lot. We’re used to solving problems and getting things done. What’s more, we use “tools” to ply our trade every day.

But if you’re going to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself, you’re going to need the right tools for the job, and that’s where we can help you. (You didn’t know Tundra carried tools? Yes, yes we do!)

Tundra’s toolbox features high-quality wares from brands like Alfa, Commercial, CHG, Winco and others. Whether you need a basic item like an adjustable wrench or a specialty piece like a cutting board refinishing tool, we’ve got you covered.

And for those of you just getting started, our tool collections, such as this 27-piece kit, will help you tackle all but the most challenging DIY projects.

If you’re brave enough to troubleshoot electrical and gas issues, we even have a couple of helpful books to guide your efforts.

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To DIY or Not to DIY: Should You Make That Repair?

DIY to Save Time & Money

When Tundra started, more than 20 years ago, we were a simple plumbing parts distributor.  Working out of a garage, our founder, Michael Lewis, began going door to door to see how he could help different businesses in the food service industry get the parts they needed to stay up and running, which quickly expanded Tundra to house more parts to serve its customers needs.

What he learned was that a lot of people in charge of running a kitchen were intimidated to make repairs, even simple ones.  Being the honest man he was (and still is), he took this as an opportunity to help teach people how they could make the repairs on their own.  The idea was that there were parts that you should have no problem installing yourself, while there were others that should be left to a professional.  Michael called them always DIY parts, sometimes DIY parts, and never DIY parts.

Always DIY Parts

Always Do It Yourself Parts require very little research and no technical skill to install. In general, if a part can be installed without the use of tools, it’s an Always DIY Part. Some typical examples include knobs, fryer baskets, light bulbs and hood filters.

If you’re trying to cut operating expenses in your kitchen, these are great items to start with. Because Always DIY Parts don’t require a service tech for installation, you start saving immediately on service labor, and you avoid the usual tech markup. Additionally, these parts can typically be used on multiple pieces of equipment and are generally in-stock ready for same-day pick-up or delivery. Usually, it would not make sense for a kitchen to stock replacement parts, but Always DIY Parts are one of the exceptions. Since most of these parts are multi-use (items like knobs), it may make sense to keep a few extras on hand.

Always DIY Parts

Sometimes DIY Parts

Sometimes Do It Yourself Parts require a small amount of research and little to no skill to install. These parts typically require the use of basic tools for installation, such as a screwdriver or wrench. The skill level for Sometimes DIY Parts is rather broad and spans from screwing in a refrigeration latch to installing a thermostat. While a thermostat is more difficult to install than a latch, the process can easily be taught. Everyone’s range for Sometimes DIY Parts is really determined by their confidence and comfort with making repairs.

Examples of typical Sometimes DIY Parts include refrigeration gaskets, switches, light fixtures, and high limits. While a lot of these items are typically multi-use parts, they are not necessarily needed as frequently so may not always be in stock. It is important when purchasing this category of parts to have a conversation with one of our sales team members to gauge the required technical knowledge for your specific part need.

With these parts, a little confidence and experience can go a long way to save time and money. This being said, most individuals can install Sometimes DIY Parts. If the installation is more difficult, you can always call a service tech to assist and still purchase the part yourself to save you the tech’s part mark-up.

Sometimes DIY Parts

Never DIY Parts

Never Do It Yourself Parts require the highest level of research and advanced technical knowledge to ensure the installation is done properly. Some common Never DIY Parts are refrigeration compressors, steamer boilers/generators, and parts for any 480 volt equipment. Odds are, you’ll want to contact an experienced service tech for these repairs.

Never DIY Parts are typically not in stock, because the parts are linked heavily to specific OEMs, making it unlikely multiple people will need the same part on a frequent basis. While it is best to use a service tech for these types of repairs, you can still look to purchase the necessary parts. To speed up the ordering process, present our sales team with the make and model number of your piece of equipment, as well as the item you need.

Never DIY Parts

Have DIY Questions?

We know that this only slightly covers how to gauge if you should be doing repairs yourself, but as it was Michael’s intention, we do hope that this helps you walk away with a slightly better understanding of what you should have in stock in your own kitchen.  And of course, if you have any questions on how to DIY on any of your food service equipment, let us know, we are lucky enough to have a lot of team members with years of experience in equipment repair.

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Fixing Commercial Fryers [Video]

With almost 300 comments on our Repairing Commercial Fryers post, we figured it was time to get a video out there to better illustrate how easy it can be to fix a fryer yourself.  In this video, Chris Tavano, walks you through calibrating the thermostat, bypassing the hi-limit, taking out the thermopile, taking out the combination safety gas valve, and other troubleshooting tips for commercial fryers.  Please note, before fixing any kitchen equipment, you should ensure the power and/or gas is off first (in the example below, you’ll calibrate the thermostat before turning off power and gas).

For more information, please see our previous post on how to fix commercial fryers.


Hello, welcome to Tundra Restaurant Supply.  I’m Chris Tavano and I’m here to troubleshoot some fryer maintenance today.  Common problems we tend to see are thermostat controls and calibration; in other words, your pilot light won’t stay lit, your burner won’t ignite, your oil is too hot or is too cold.  A lot of common problems associated with that are the gas burner safety valve, as well as, the hi-limit control and thermopile [Chris said thermopiler, but it is indeed formally called a thermopile].  Today, we will be using our Frymaster MJ35 for our example maintenance.

Calibrating the Thermostat: Checking the Oil Temperature Against the Fryers Thermostat

Alright, so first thing we’re going to talk about is the thermostat and how to calibrate the thermostat to help calculate exactly what the problem is.  So, a lot of times you’ll have your thermostat, and your hi-limit shutoff is around 450⁰.

So, what you want to do is set your thermostat to 350⁰, get a thermometer and put it in the oil basin itself, and you want to make sure that, that comes up to the temperature of 350⁰. At the same time, when that temperature has reached on the thermometer, you’re going to lower your thermostat down to about 250⁰ until it clicks off.  And then you’re going to turn it slightly up, and let the oil cool down.  And when that valve kicks back on for the fire, you’re going to make sure that, that temperature on your thermostat is also what’s reading in the thermometer that’s sitting in the oil.


Once you’ve identified the problem of your thermostat being off from the actual fryer oil temperature, the first place to look is your hi-limit switch.  And what the hi-limit does is a safety precaution saying that it’s going to turn off your fryer at exactly 450⁰, and never go higher than that. 

What we’re going to do in here is, you take your two-wires that go to your hi-limit switch, and we’re just going to unscrew them, and switch them in place to bypass that [we’re bypassing the hi-limit switch here].  We’re going to take the one that gives us the source to the thermopile.  This one is our actual limit, and we’re just going to bypass it and go instead to the thermopile.  Really, all you need to do is get the one that connects back to the thermopile so we have a constant source again of that flame.


Alright, if you found out that your hi-limit switch is not the problem, the next place to look is your thermopile.  A thermopile converts your thermal energy into electrical energy.  It is the source of your thermostat.

Back in this corner here we have our pilot light and our thermopile. The thermopile is the rod that is connected to this snaked wire.  Takeout [usually unscrew] the probe itself and there’s your thermopile. [The thermopile needs to be checked for corrosion or broken wires and replaced if damaged.]

Combination Gas Safety Valve

If you’ve found out that the hi-limit and thermopile are not the culprit of your thermostat controls, the next place to look is the combination safety gas valve.  That is not an easy thing to replace, it is not a quick thing to replace, and it’s not necessarily cheap, but it is something that needs to be done, and it’s much better than buying a whole new fryer itself.

If you look at this particular model, the whole unit of the [combination] safety gas valve itself cannot be removed from right here, so what you’re going to do is find your closest joints.  Unscrew those, and your other one right here.  And your actually going to pull out the entire device with all of the component pipes associated with it.  Once you pull that out, you can replace these pipes [take the pipes off of the combination safety gas valve] so that way you have the actual safety gas valve itself.  And then you can get that replaced, you can hook it back up to your previous pipes, and then again, you can screw that back on to the actual gas lines themselves.


Alright, so your last troubleshooting tip would be the thermostat itself.  If you find that you’ve gone through all of that stuff, and your pilot light is staying lit, but however, you aren’t holding temperature through what you had calibrated earlier, and it’s not being consistent, odds are the thermostat itself is bad and needs to be replaced.

Other Common Problems

Alright, so other common problems to try and troubleshoot with your fryer tend to be [small] explosions, it’s too hot or metal fatigue.  A lot of times, you’ve got to check the basin of your fryer itself, and make sure that there are no thin spots, worn out spots or any holes within the basin.  If that exists, you have to get a new fryer.

Other places you need to look are in your exhaust manifolds and in the flume burners themselves.  A lot of times they get caked with grease and excess runoff, and over time, those just don’t get cleaned out the same way that the oil basin itself gets cleaned.  So you’re going to want to check those on a monthly or quarterly basis, and try to clean out the soot.  If it’s caked in there, odds are you might need a new fryer as well.

Another common mistake is liquid propane to natural gas conversions.  Those are one-way valves, so to convert from natural gas to liquid propane, there’s one valve for that.  To go from liquid propane to natural gas, there’s a different valve for that.

For more information, please see our previous post on how to fix commercial fryers.

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Vintage Range With Broken Thermostat


I have a vintage Detroit Star range from the 30’s or 40’s.  It has a Robertshaw thermostat control for the oven, but I think that the therm or tube is defective. Any ideas on someone that can check it out?  I live in Duluth, MN.

Thanks,  Richard

  • Hey Richard, Is there a possibility you can send me a couple of pictures of the thermostat? Or can you get any numbers off of it? With pictures or numbers I may be able to find it for you. 

Robertshaw Control

Robertshaw Control 3

Robertshaw Control 2


Hey Richard,

The BJWA type thermostat replacement you can use is item #461037. It comes as a kit.

You can get it through or you can call them at 800-447-4941 and any of the sales people can help you with it. You would need to call them for pricing and availability.

Let whom ever you talk to know that this is the one that I have recommended.

Hope this helps!

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Fryer Fire Low

QuestionRestaurant Fryer

When I put in a small batch of food in the fryer, the fire is perfectly normal; however, when I fry a large batch, the fire becomes so small that the fryer can’t even heat the food.  Do you think the problem is that the thermostat is bad?  How much would you say that part is?  Thank you.



Hi Amie,

Ok if you are putting in a lot of frozen product at one time it may be that your fryer does not have enough BTU’s to keep up. Even if it is a large amount of thawed product it may still be that your fryer does not have enough BTU’s to handle the quantity.

When you do large quantities it drops the oil temperature so much so quickly that it can not get back to temperature quickly enough to fry properly.

When you fry just a small amount and it works fine then I would say there is nothing wrong with the thermostat.

Hope this helps.

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When Restaurant Equipment Goes Down: 10 Ways To Save

Restaurant Equipment RepairKeeping your commercial kitchen humming along is not always an easy proposition.  You use this equipment every day, and sooner or later something is going to give out on you.  If the next step you’re used to taking is picking up the phone to call your service tech, this post is for you.

That’s because if you have the right tools and a little basic knowledge, you can handle the most common equipment failures yourself on everything from ranges to fryers to overhead warmers to faucets.  We’ve written several great guides to help you fix your restaurant equipment yourself.

Check out these posts, and if you have any questions about fixing equipment, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you with and answer!

1.  How To Fix Countertop Warmers

2.  How To Replace Door Gaskets on Refrigeration Equipment

3.  Identifying and Replacing Electric Thermostats

4.  Identifying Commercial Faucets and Parts

5.  Replacing Gas Safety Valves

6.  Converting Gas Equipment In 5 Simple Steps

7.  Can You Trust Generic Restaurant Equipment Parts?

8.  Fixing Commercial Fryers

9.  Fixing Commercial Ovens

10.  Fixing Gas Ranges

Being able to handle minor equipment repairs will not only save you money, it will also reduce your downtime, meaning your busy kitchen won’t miss a beat.  Half the battle is having the skills to replace parts.  The other half is being able to get parts fast.  Go here for a complete inventory of restaurant equipment parts.

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Replacing Refrigeration Door Gaskets

The rubber door gasket on the inside edge of the doors of all your refrigeration equipment is very important. It prevents cold air from escaping, which means the unit will stay colder longer and use less energy.  Old refrigeration door gaskets wear out and lose their seal. Even worse, older gaskets can pose a food safety risk because they begin to collect grime and food bits and become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Luckily, it’s easy to replace door gaskets!  There are several different styles of gaskets. To ensure you get the proper gasket, gather the following information:

1. Dimension of gasket – Measure from outside corner to outside corner for both height and width.

2. Manufacturer – Get the manufacturer’s name and the model and serial number of the piece of equipment (the serial number may not be needed).  Search for refrigeration door gaskets by manufacturer here.

3. Style –  Check to see if the gasket is magnetic or non-magnetic(compression). Almost all newer refrigeration equipment will have a magnetic gasket. A magnetic gasket will be hard and square at the point where it contacts the inside frame of the unit. Magnetic gaskets will also snap shut when you hold the door less than an inch from the frame because the magnet attracts to the metal.

Magnetic door gaskets are the most common

Magnetic door gaskets are the most common

Compression gaskets usually need a door latch to hold them tight in place to get a good seal. These gaskets are soft and compress easily at the point where they contact the inside frame of the unit.

A compression style door gasket

A compression style door gasket

Door gaskets are also categorized by how they attach to the door.  There are 3 ways a door gasket mounts on a door: snap in (or dart), push in, and screw in.

How To Replace Refrigeration Door Gaskets By Style

Snap in (or dart) door gaskets

Note the arrow shaped "dart" in the middle.  This snaps into a slot on the door.

Note the arrow shaped “dart” in the middle. This snaps into a slot on the door.

Removal – Remove the old gasket by grabbing a corner and pulling.  The dart section of the gasket, which fits snugly into a slot in the door frame, will pull out.

Installation – To install the new refrigeration door gasket, soak it in hot water for a few minutes. This will make it more flexible.  Begin by snapping in a top corner first. Then, using a mallet or a block of wood and hammer, tap into place the top of the gasket. Continue by installing the sides from top to bottom, and finally the bottom.

Note: Make sure the hinge side of the gasket does not roll under when you close the door.  If it does, push it into position and you may have to tape the door closed to get the gasket to seat itself. You might also try a hair dryer to heat the gasket as this will help it seat. (Make sure you don’t melt the gasket!)

A push in style door gasket

A push in style door gasket

Push in refrigeration door gaskets

Removal – Remove the old gasket by grabbing a corner and pulling!

Installation – Push in gaskets may require vinyl cement. To install the new gasket brush some vinyl cement into the channel and press the gasket into the channel.

Note: Make sure the hinge side of the gasket does not roll under when you close the door.  If it does, push it into position and you may have to tape the door closed to get the gasket to seat itself.  You may also use a hair dryer to heat the gasket as this will help the gasket seat.  (Make sure you don’t melt the gasket!)

Screw in door gaskets

Removal – Simply remove screws.

Installation – Screw in the new gasket using retainer strips.

A screw in style door gasket. Note the strip for screwing in the gasket.
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