How long do refrigerators last on average?

Last Updated on November 7, 2022 by E.Pery

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?

3 factors determine how long does a refrigerator last

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

  1. Refrigerator brand
  2. Refrigerator type
  3. How refrigerators are used and maintained

1. 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.

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2. 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.

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3. 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.
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8 tips to help your refrigerator last longer

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

1. 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.

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2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

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9 signs a refrigerator is dying

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.

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

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

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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.

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5. 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.

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6. 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.

7. 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.

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8. 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 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.

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9. When your Bills Begin to Mount

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.

When should I replace my refrigerator?

Refrigerators are one of the most expensive appliances in the kitchen, so it’s important to keep yours running for as long as possible. But when does it make sense to replace your refrigerator?

  • Age
  • Performance
  • It doesn’t cool properly
  • It has poor insulation
  • It’s not energy efficient
  • Excessive noise from the fan or compressor
  • An opening door that doesn’t stay open on its own


The first thing to consider is the age of your refrigerator. Manufacturers recommend replacing refrigerators after about 10 years, but some models can last much longer. You can find out the age of your refrigerator by looking at the serial number tag on the back or inside of the door.

The first five digits will tell you when it was manufactured, and the last five digits are for tracking purposes. For example, if your serial number starts with 1504, it was made in 2015 (the fourth month). If you’re not sure whether or not your model is still under warranty, check its manual or contact the manufacturer directly.


While age is an important factor in determining when to replace a refrigerator, performance is another important consideration. A refrigerator should keep food cold enough to prevent spoilage and keep food fresh while still running quietly and efficiently.

If it’s more than 10 years old and isn’t keeping food cold properly anymore or making too much noise, it might be time to replace it with a newer model.

It doesn’t cool properly

If your refrigerator isn’t cooling properly or freezing food that should be frozen, you probably need to replace it. A refrigerator that’s not working efficiently uses more electricity and costs more money than one that is working properly.

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It has poor insulation

If you have a side-by-side model with poor insulation, it may be time to replace it. Poor insulation means that cold air from inside the refrigerator isn’t able to properly circulate throughout the entire interior — and that means less efficient cooling overall.

You can test this by placing a thermometer inside your refrigerator and checking its temperature every few weeks over several months.

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It’s not energy efficient

The best way to know if your fridge is energy efficient is by looking at its EnergyGuide label, which lists annual operating costs based on how often you use your appliance (daily or weekly). If these costs are high compared to other models in its class, then this could be an indication that it’s time for an upgrade.

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Excessive noise from the fan or compressor

The first sign to look for is excessive noise from the fan or compressor. If your refrigerator makes a humming noise when running, then it may be time for you to replace it. You also want to check for any dents or cracks on the exterior of your refrigerator.

These could indicate that there is something wrong with the inner workings of your fridge, which means that it may not work as efficiently as possible in order to keep its contents cold enough.

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An opening door that doesn’t stay open on its own

If your refrigerator has an opening door that doesn’t stay open on its own, then this could be another sign that you need to purchase a new appliance.

Finally, if your freezer doesn’t seem cold enough or if there is frost buildup around the edges of its shelves or drawers, then this could mean that there is something wrong with your freezer’s temperature control system and that it needs replacing immediately.

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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.

Recommended reading: How To Dispose Of Refrigerator? (7 Disposal Options)

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.

You may also ask

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 noise.
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. But the older a fridge gets, the less efficient and reliable it is.

the average life of a refrigerator compressor

The average life of a refrigerator compressor is about 10 years. After this amount of time, it is likely that the compressor will fail.
Compressors are one of the most expensive parts in a refrigerator to replace, as they can cost anywhere from $200 to $600 or more depending on the make and model.
The average life of a refrigerator compressor may vary slightly depending on the type of refrigerator you have and how well you take care of it. If your compressor is giving out, you can replace the entire unit yourself or have an appliance repair technician do it for you.

can a fridge last 30 years?

Refrigerators have a lifespan of about 20 years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. However, some refrigerators can last longer than that and others may not last as long as expected.
Refrigerators are rated for their energy efficiency and durability, but there’s no way to know how long a particular model will last. The life of your refrigerator depends on several factors including:
How well you care for it
The quality of parts used in construction
The age of the model when you purchase it.

the average lifespan of a fridge freezer

The average fridge freezer will last for about 13 years, but this can vary depending on the make and model.
Some fridges and freezers are more durable than others.
Here are some of the factors that affect how long your fridge freezer will last:
The quality of construction (how well it’s put together)
The quality of materials used (some materials are more durable than others)
How much use it gets (the more often you open and close the door, the faster it will wear out)
Whether you close the door properly when you shut it (if you don’t, this can cause damage).