A high-quality, well-maintained refrigerator can last for 20 years or more. Some people claim to have kept their fridges going for 25 years, but age isn’t the only factor in determining whether it’s time to replace your fridge. Here, we’ll look deeper into the question, “How long does a refrigerator last?” We’ll also explain how to potentially extend the unit’s lifespan and know it’s on its last leg.

The Average Refrigerator Lifespan

The average refrigerator lasts 12 years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. But a typical unit with a bottom fridge/top freezer is capable of lasting anywhere from 10 to 15 years. At that point, it’s often losing efficiency while internal components are starting to deteriorate.
The type of refrigerator is a factor, especially in terms of repair costs. Built-in refrigerators are typically less expensive to fix, while side-by side models over five years old, and in need of repair, may be worth replacing. Brand is a strong consideration as well. A high-quality brand appliance can last significantly longer than a cheaper model.

How Long Does a Refrigerator Last If I Maintain It?

This is a good question any homeowner should consider. There are several things that can improve the odds of your appliance lasting longer. To add years to a refrigerator’s operating life:

  • Lubricate the Rubber Insulation: The door gaskets provide a seal that keeps in cold air and prevents warmer air from getting in. Lubricating them with petroleum jelly can maintain the integrity of the seal and prevent the gaskets from cracking, tearing, and becoming loose.
  • Clean the Condenser Coils: Heat can’t escape if the coils are covered in dust and dirt. This can cause the refrigerator to cycle on and off more quickly, straining it and potentially causing it to break down. With the unit unplugged, access the coils at the base or behind it, and vacuum the coils clean with a dust brush attachment; then wipe them down with a condenser coil brush.
  • Keep the Vents Clear: Refrigerator vents allow for air circulation. If obstructed, moisture and frost can build up and the unit won’t cool evenly. To avoid these issues, move food items away from vents and make sure crumbs, twist ties, and other items aren’t in contact with or sticking into vent openings.

Troubleshooting and maintenance also influence how long your refrigerator can last. Water leaks can lead to further damage, so should be fixed as quickly as possible. If the water supply line is leaking, have it replaced. Noise is another issue that should be addressed; if you hear scraping or grinding sounds, fan blades may be worn out or broken. A clogged fill tube can prevent the ice maker from producing ice, while a clogged drain tube may cause material to back up, which could look like a spill inside the fridge.
If you notice any of these or other problems, contact a technician right away to have them resolved. A factory-certified technician is best, as they know exactly how to repair your brand of fridge. Prompt repairs can restore functionality and reduce wear and tear on other components, ultimately reducing expenses down the line.

Know When Your Fridge Won’t Last Much Longer

Replacing a dying refrigerator is not cheap but can save you in energy costs and repairs. Signs your fridge isn’t going to last much longer include:

  • Food starts to spoil much sooner.
  • The motor is noisy and running all the time.
  • Condensation is forming on the outside.
  • Utility bills are going up without explanation.
  • The exterior of the fridge is hot.
  • The fridge is plugged in but completely silent.
  • Foods in the freezer are coated in thick frost.

Contact Wilshire Refrigeration & Appliance

Customers often ask us, “How long does a refrigerator last?” Our factory-certified technicians can assess your fridge to determine if there’s life left to it. Starting with a free estimate, we can provide any type of repair or recommend high-quality, energy efficient Sub-Zero refrigerators. To schedule appliance installation, repair, or replacement as well as general maintenance, call 800-427-3653 or request service online.

1. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/shopping-appliances
2. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/average-life-sidebyside-fridge-82650.html