Rubber seals are common to so many of the items we depend on in modern life, and we are often happily unaware of them until they fail. With so many seals and gaskets in use on everything from washing machines to cars, it can be hard to find the exact replacement you need. So, the million dollar question is: can a rubber seal be fixed?
Where can I get advice?
Modern rubber seals are often made with rubber injection moulding and are made in all shapes and sizes. With a thorough search, you may well be able to find instructions online to repair the specific type of seal you need to fix. For example, The Guardian has a helpful article with advice on fixing a damaged fridge door seal here: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jul/21/how-to-mend-an-inefficient-fridge.
Don’t be afraid to join a DIY or money saving forum and ask a question. If you explain your problem carefully, there’s a strong chance that helpful friendly experts will reply with great advice.
For natural rubber products, which degrade as they age, the following steps are recommended. Firstly, give the seal a good clean with soapy water. If the rubber is mildewed, you might need diluted bleach to get it thoroughly clean. Next, use a specialist rubber conditioner, following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, or use a clean cloth to apply almond oil. Remove any damaged areas of the seal with fine sandpaper, and condition the seal again.
Alternatively, for small seals and gaskets that have become old and hard, clean them carefully, then boil them in a pan of water, checking them every 5 minutes, until they are flexible.
Is your seal beyond repair and hard to replace?
If all else has failed, your rubber seal is truly beyond repair, and a replacement is not easy to come by, there are companies such as https://www.meadex.co.uk/rubber-moulding/, who can make you a replacement, using rubber injection moulding. Your original damaged seal can be used as a template to create a brand new replacement. You may want to order extras to make sure you have a spare should anything go wrong in future.
In summary, there is a strong chance you will be able to successfully repair or replace your damaged seal, without the expense of having to replace your essential appliance or beloved vintage vehicle!