How long do refrigerators last?

Last Updated on September 22, 2022 by P. Simon

A refrigerator is not a device you replace on a whim. It is an expensive appliance that you hope will give you several years of service before replacing it.

The average lifespan of a refrigerator is 10 to 13 years. However, some fridges could last even 20 years.

Although some refrigerator brands last longer than 15 years, most of them lose their cooling efficiency after a decade. Individual components deteriorate and increase the risk of malfunctions.

How Long Do Refrigerators Last?
How Long Do Refrigerators Last?

Factors That Determine How Long Refrigerators Last

How long a refrigerator lasts depends on its brand, model, and how it is used and maintained.

Refrigerator Brand

Some brands produce refrigerators that are more reliable than others. So when purchasing a fridge, you should avoid getting an appliance that will need numerous repairs and costly part replacements before half of its lifespan.

Some of the most reliable refrigerator brands include Whirlpool, LG, Samsung, Maytag, and GE. These brands produce high-quality refrigerators that require fewer repairs compared to other refrigerator models.

Refrigerator Type

The model of your refrigerator could also determine how long it lasts. For example, you are likely to get more years from a fridge with a top freezer than a bottom freezer.

The French door refrigerator model has more repair and replacement needs compared to other fridge models because the freezer is located at the bottom. Side-by-side fridges also have a shorter lifespan.

How Refrigerators are Used and Maintained

It doesn’t matter whether you have the best refrigerator model from the most reliable brand. If you don’t use and maintain your fridge appropriately, it may not last as long as it should. Some of the factors that affect the durability of refrigerators include:

  1. Overstuffing refrigerators
  2. Dirty condenser coils and vents
  3. Keeping refrigerator door open
  4. A door that isn’t sealing properly.
  5. Blocking refrigerator vents with obstructive objects.
  6. Placing refrigerators close to home appliances that produce heat, e.g., cookers and microwaves.

How to Help Your Refrigerator Last Longer

  • Clean The Condenser Coils At Least Every Six Months
  • Clean Out The Vents
  • Clean And Lubricate The Door Gaskets
  • Make Sure The Fridge Is Level.
  • Give It Plenty Of Space
  • Change Out Your Water Filter Often
  • Ensure Your Refrigerator Is Three-Quarter Full
  • Troubleshoot Issues As Soon As They Occur

Clean the Condenser Coils at Least Every Six Months

Condenser coils are metal tubes that are usually located below or at the base of the refrigerator. The condenser coils help in releasing hot air from the fridge. With time, dust and dirt build up and block the condenser coils, impacting their ability to keep your fridge cool.

It’s best to clean condenser coils at least twice a year to keep your fridge from constantly cycling on and off and eventually stopping due to dirt build-up. You can eliminate the build-up using a vacuum cleaner, a coil brush, and a foam cleanser.

Clean out the vents

The vents of your fridge are located on the roof or sidewalls of the unit. They help in the circulation of cold air throughout the appliance.

When these vents are blocked by dust, dirt, food, or liquids, their ability to move cool air evenly in the fridge is affected. Using a clean wet rug to wipe regularly will prevent build-up from blocking the vents.

Clean and Lubricate the Door Gaskets

The door gaskets enable the refrigerator door to seal when it is closed. Sometimes tear, wear and grime, and build-up of dirt prevent the door from locking. When this happens, cold air leaks out of the fridge, and warm air enters.

This malfunction increases interior moisture and causes ice dams to form in the freezer and the fridge. It also reduces the efficiency of the refrigerator by altering the fridge’s optimum temperature. Lubricating the door gaskets with a thin film of petroleum jelly can help maintain the seal’s elasticity.

Make sure the fridge is level.

A refrigerator tipped to the side or downward could strain the motor and shorten the lifespan of your fridge. Ensure that your fridge lives up to your expectations by ensuring that it is standing on level ground.

Give it plenty of space

Refrigerators need plenty of space all around them for an unobstructed flow of air. Without sufficient airflow, they experience various unnecessary mechanical issues.

If you leave at least a few inches of space around your fridge increases its efficiency and operational capacity.

Change out your water filter often

Refrigerators with built-in water filters need to be replaced after every six months. Replacing the water filters prevents build-up that could permanently damage the ice maker and water dispenser. It also ensures that your drinking water is clear of bacteria.

Ensure your Refrigerator is Three-Quarter Full

Ensure your fridge is three-quarters full most of the time. It is easier to keep a full fridge cool than an empty one—the cooled items inside the fridge help maintain the cool temperature without overworking it.

However, avoid overstuffing the refrigerator as it could obstruct airflow. If this happens, some foodstuff will not be adequately cooled, and the fridge may stop working.

Troubleshoot Issues As Soon As they Occur

Address any issue with your refrigerator as soon as it occurs.

Some common indicators of a faulty refrigerator include weird noises, puddles in the fridge, the ice maker failing to produce ice, the refrigerator not cooling, and overheating of the refrigerator. These issues should be addressed by a professional as soon as possible.

When To Replace Your Refrigerator

Before a refrigerator reaches its end, it usually gives a few indications that it is on its last leg. Taking note of these indicators could tip you off when you should start saving for a new appliance.

  • When It Has Excessive Condensation
  • When The Motor’s Running Hot
  • When The Motor Is Constantly Running
  • When Your Food Is Rapidly Spoiling
  • When A Freezer Begins To Resemble An Iceberg
  • When You Have A Side-By-Side Fridge Older Than Five Years
  • When Your Fridge Is More Than 10 Years Old
  • When Your Fridge Isn’t Energy Efficient
  • When Your Bills Begin To Mount

When it Has Excessive Condensation

The fridge has five systems that work together to maintain optimum temperature for preserving perishables. When one or more of these systems fails, the refrigerator experiences cooling problems that could lead to exterior condensation. Condensation could also form in the fridge’s interior.

Condensation on the exterior means that the refrigerator is not cooling correctly and that the motor is overworking to keep refrigerated items cold. It could also signify that the coils have stopped working and may require you to replace the whole unit depending on how bad the problem is.

When the Motor’s Running Hot

It’s not uncommon to feel an exchange of warm air when you place your hand at the back of the refrigerator. However, if you feel excessive amounts of heat, it is a sign that your fridge is not cooling correctly.

Calling a repair technician as soon as possible could enable you to address the problem early enough and prevent further complications.

When the Motor is Constantly Running

The motor should run periodically as it keeps the temperature optimum. If you notice that your fridge’s motor is constantly running and produces loud noises, it could be a sign that it is getting old and needs to be replaced.

When Your Food Is Rapidly Spoiling

Every food has a certain amount of time to stay in the fridge before it goes bad. For example, bacon should last for a week, eggs three to five weeks, chicken three to four days, and steak three to five days.

When your fridge is too old, it is unable to cool food properly. So your food gets spoilt before the date that it should. This is an obvious sign that your fridge is dying and needs a replacement.

When A Freezer Begins to Resemble an Iceberg

When your freezer begins to resemble an iceberg, you should unplug it and allow it to defrost. Then you should plug it in again and observe it. If the problem persists, have the problem fixed but prepare to get a newer model with automatic defrosting features.

When You Have a Side-by-Side Fridge Older Than Five years

Side-by-side fridges have a shorter lifespan than other fridge models. Once your side-by-side clock is five years old and needs constant repairs, it is wise for you to start saving up for a new appliance.

Similarly, if your bottom freezer is more than seven years old, it needs to be replaced, and as you shop for a new fridge, a top freezer would be a wise choice because it lasts longer than the bottom freezer.

When Your Fridge Is More Than 10 Years Old

As earlier mentioned, a fridge can last up to 20 years. However, as the fridge ages beyond ten years, it tends to need more repairs. Eventually, the repair cost begins to outweigh the price of a replacement, and that’s when you know that it’s time to get a new fridge.

When Your Fridge Isn’t Energy Efficient

Energy-star certified fridges consume less energy than older models. When you notice that your energy bill breaks your bank every month, then it’s time to get a modern fridge.

When your Bills Begin to Mount

When you begin to schedule regular appointments with your repair person or notice that your utility bills keep rising, it’s an obvious indicator that you need to get a new appliance. Even if you make use of your old fridge, regular repairs are not only costly but also a time-consuming hassle.

So if your fridge is more than ten years old and you get a good deal on a modern unit, perhaps it would be wise to invest in it.

If you feel like it’s a waste because it has not entirely broken down, you could recycle it. Your old fridge or freezer may have material that should be appropriately disposed of and not just tossed into a landfill.

Should I Keep an Old Fridge if it is Still Working?

Suppose your fridge is still working, but it’s older than 13 years. Should you keep it? The answer is a solid yes! If you can, you should replace your old fridge because the cost of replacement could be equivalent to the cost of future repairs.

Additionally, unlike ovens and dishwashers, older fridges are less energy-efficient than new ones. Getting a new fridge saves you money that you previously spent on heavy utility bills. An older fridge that uses Freon is 75% less energy efficient than a new model.

Moreover, suppose an old fridge has a sealed-system leak. In that case, you may need to call in a maintenance specialist to recharge the Freon because it is a hazardous substance that should only be handled by a licensed professional.

How to Properly Dispose of Your Fridge

Fridges, like other electronic appliances, contain recyclable components and chemicals that are harmful to the environment. For this reason, you should not toss your fridge out with the rest of your garbage. Here are a few tips on how to properly dispose of your old fridge.

Have the dealer of the new fridge remove the old fridge upon delivery of the new unit.

Alternatively, you could ask your city government if they have a program for safe fridge disposal. If it doesn’t, you could contact a local recycling agency to remove it for you.

If recycling is not an option, inquire whether the city’s residential trash department accepts bulky wastes. If it does, you might be charged a nominal fee for this service.

After making inquiries, schedule a date with the department for the fridge’s pick-up. If they have any particular preparation requirements before collection, such as detaching doors, full-fill them on time.

On the collection day, move it outdoors and position it far from structures, fences, and gas meters. You could also opt for DIY disposal if your city allows it.

Bottom Line

Refrigerators have an average lifespan of 10-13 years, although some fridges can last for even 20 years. The durability of your fridge depends on the brand, model, and how you keep it.

However, if your appliance is older than ten years, you should start saving up for a new one even though the old one is still working.

An old fridge has lower performance, uses more energy, and needs regular costly repairs. Live a hassle-free life with a new fridge when your old fridge’s clock begins ticking.


What is the average life expectancy of a refrigerator? 10-13 Years

When should I replace my refrigerator?

  • Food is spoiling or melting.
  • It can’t keep the temperature.
  • Your frozen items are coated in thick frost.
  • There’s condensation inside the unit.
  • The back of the fridge is scorching.
  • It’s making a buzzing or grinding noises.
  • If your fridge is on the older than ten years
  • Your energy bills are suddenly higher than expected despite no changes in usage.

Is it worth repairing a ten-year-old refrigerator? Yes. The older a fridge gets, the less efficient and reliable it is.