door seal

What is the Best Style of Door Seal for a Smokehouse?

The door seal is a vitally important part of any industrial smokehouse, dehydrator, or steam oven.

This one component is responsible for keeping the oven doors sealed tightly in the frame, preventing heat and steam from escaping the cabinet, and in some oven designs, keeps the doors closed.

Imagine the cost you would pay if the oven didn’t have a door seal: utility expenses would spike with the loss of heat from the oven, employees would be burned just being near the oven, and product wouldn’t cook consistently, resulting in product rejections.

The door seal is that important, but not all styles of door seals are created equal.

Vacuum Retracting vs Exposed

There are three main styles of door seals found on industrial smokehouses, dehydrators, and steam ovens in America: exposed door seals, compression door seals, and vacuum retracting door seals.

Exposed Door Seals

Most brand name industrial ovens use exposed style door seals. They are the industry standard on food processing ovens.

As the name implies, exposed door seals are just that: exposed. These door seals are attached around either the door or the door frame and inflate to keep the door tight against the frame.

While exposed door seals are the industry standard, they have a number of disadvantages.

Exposed door seals tear and need replaced on a regular basis.

  • On-the-door style exposed door seals get caught on the door frame and rip easily
  • In the frame style exposed door seals get run over by trucks as they are pushed in and out of the oven
  • They both take time to deflate, and rip when an impatient worker opens the door before deflation has completed

Ask any oven maintenance team and they’ll tell you: door seals need to be replaced constantly. Even heavy duty door seals.

Compression Door Seals

Compression door seals are the next most common style of door seals found on an industrial smokehouse or dehydrator.

This style of door seal is most like what you would find on the doors in your home: the seal is attached to the door frame and provides leak protection when compressed by the door. They don’t inflate; rather they seal when the door is closed and latched to push tightly against the seal.

While compression style seals work well on the doors in your home, they have a number of disadvantages when used on an industrial oven.

  • Seals warp easily, causing leaks around the oven door
  • Seals are only applied to the sides and top of the door frame (as there is no bottom when flush with the floor), so you can’t seal the bottom well
  • Seals need replaced more often than any other style

Vacuum Retracting Door Seals

Vacuum retracting door seals are new to the industry and found on only a small number of brand name industrial ovens — even though they provide a distinct advantage over exposed door seals.

Rather than the door seal staying exposed to be run over by truck or caught in the door frame, vacuum retracting door seals do just that: they retract into the door when the oven cycle is completed.

The advantages of this style of door seal are huge, especially for maintenance:

  • Deflates in seconds, helping to prevent it from ripping when the door is opened quickly
  • Trucks are not running over it during loading and unloading
  • Door seal is embedded into a protective seal and retracted into door, helping to prevent rips and tears

Due to less minor damage that happens in retracting and compression door seals, such as stresses on the door seal that occur when pulled, vacuum retracting door seals provide a tighter seal that lasts longer than exposed door seals.

Retracting is Better

When it comes to sealing the door of an industrial oven, the advantages don’t lie: vacuum retracting door seals are better.

The ability to open the oven door and load the oven without running over the door seal is not only convenient, but a time and money saver as well.

Countless hours and thousands of dollars are spent on replacement seals during the life of an oven that is equipped with exposed door seals. That’s time and money not factored into the oven’s cost when purchased — but is essential to keep the oven operational.

Imagine not having to face downtime in your oven because a door seal needs to be replaced. Or the money saved if your maintenance team didn’t have to replace door seals every month or so.

Many oven manufacturers use exposed door seals or compression door seals because they are a bit cheaper on the front end and require you to purchase replacement parts (more money for the manufacturer!), but they up costing you the owner much more money than if a vacuum retracting style of door seal was used.

The Choice is Simple

When it comes to purchasing an industrial smokehouse, dehydrator, or steam oven, the choice is simple: choose the oven equipped with vacuum retracting door seals.

You’ll save time and thousands of dollars in maintenance expenses and labor alone as opposed to exposed door seals. It’s why here at Fusion Tech all of our ovens come standard with vacuum retracting door deals — and why we are the only oven manufacturers to use vacuum retracting door seals. We wouldn’t purchase an oven with exposed door deals and incredibly high hidden maintenance fees, and we don’t think you should have to, either.

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