How Long Do Refrigerators Last? When Should You Replace Yours?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 3rd, 2022

Exact answer: around 13 years

Refrigerators have a far longer lifespan than home appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines, and trash compactors.

gray top mount refrigerator with stickers

If you have owned your old refrigerator for around 12 or 13 years, you could replace it with a new one. Some well-known brands of standard refrigerators have a lifetime of up to 20 years.

Every refrigerator doesn’t need to have the same lifespan; it will vary depending on the firm and how these refrigerators are used.

How Long Do Refrigerators Last?

There was proof of the operation of refrigerators even longer than the entire lifespan from numerous sources and studies, and one had its freezers for over 50 years, and it’s still in fine shape.

This was said in a survey by a person who purchased a refrigerator from the General Motors corporation and stated that it was an Adult beverage cooler that still functions efficiently after all these years.

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Homebuilders and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), the average lifespan of today’s smart technology refrigerators may be projected to be up to 13 years, with mini-fridges having a shorter lifespan than standard bigger ones.

Freezers have an average lifespan of roughly 9 years.

The NYSE even stated that the lifetime of refrigerators is also dependent on one’s usage and that they would survive for a longer period if used correctly by cleaning at regular intervals, but that they may not last up to 13 years and would get damaged, necessitating replacement. It is possible that a manufacturing flaw is to blame for the refrigerator’s failure to function.

A person stated that he used to clean the parts regularly, replace the supply lines, and call the repairman if anything went wrong and that he is still using the same refrigerator that he purchased in the early 2000s, and that today’s machines lack in efficiency and are also getting damaged with less usage in a shorter period, making them unworthy of their money.

How Long Do Refrigerators Last Average Lifespan

TypeAverage lifespan
Refrigerator (Standard)13 years
Refrigerator (compact)9 years
Freezer11 years

Why do refrigerators have such a long lifespan?

Some claimed that household appliances built by historical firms such as General Motors had a longer lifespan than the norm and even worked more efficiently with fewer mending issues than they used to have once in a while.

Another reason freezers stay longer is that they do not have a lot of operating components. Thus there will be no recurring problems with the hardware. People of a generation who are a bridge between the earlier and today’s generations stated that technological developments, although helping these items perform more effectively, have resulted in a shorter lifespan.

The basic versions with the freezer on top and the refrigerator on the bottom are the least costly, and there are others, such as the gold standard, that was less popular due to their inability to hold larger things and could only create ice.

Every appliance in today’s age has various changes, such as having a freezer at the bottom and enormous French doors on the top, which have grown fashionable and are widely used. Because of the breadth of these huge French doors, one may store pizza boxes, sheet cakes, deli platters, and many other items.

It can be observed that the presence of refrigerators exceeds their projected lives, while others have less than that and even live up to their expected lifespans.

Signs That Your Refrigerator Is Dying

The easiest approach to avoid issues caused by a defective refrigerator is to anticipate them. If you detect any of these issues with your old refrigerator, consider replacing it rather than investing in it. Begin by reviewing these refrigerator maintenance and repair guidelines. Continue reading to discover the 5 warning indications that your refrigerator is on its last legs.

The Refrigerator’s Exterior Is Heating Up

No kitchen appliance outside should ever feel hot to the touch unless you’re cooking anything on the stove. This is especially true of your refrigerator. When the engine operates, it creates heat, but that heat is meant to be confined so that you don’t perceive it. If you suddenly feel the heat on the unit’s outside, it might indicate that the motor is malfunctioning or that the coils have ceased operating.

Food is spoiling quickly.

Food can only be securely stored in a refrigerator for a particular period before the government advises you to destroy it. The US Department of Health and Human Services produces a food storage chart that recommends how long you should store particular foods in your refrigerator. Here are a couple of such examples:

  • 1 week for bacon
  • 3-5 days for steaks
  • 1-2 days for chicken
  • 3-5 weeks for eggs

The whole chart includes suggested refrigeration durations and the time food should be kept in the freezer. If your refrigerator has been preserving food well for a long time and then suddenly stops, it might be a clue that it is on its last legs.

Keep the engine running.

A refrigerator’s motor will operate from time to time to maintain the proper temperature. Once the compartments have reached specified temperatures, the motor should only run seldom and quietly. If you find that your refrigerator motor is suddenly running continuously or generating a lot of noise, you should contact a specialist to assess the matter.

Condensation on the Outside

A refrigerator is a system of around five components that all work together to keep the cooling chambers at the desired temperature. When one or more of them fails, condensation might collect on the outside of the refrigerator.

This should not happen and indicates that your refrigerator is nearing the end of its life. It typically indicates that the engine is working too hard to keep things cool or cold, and you may not have much time to find a solution.

The bills are piling up.

You may also note that you’ve been seeing a lot of your normal appliance repair guy in recent weeks or months and an increase in your utility costs. Regular repairs can be inconvenient and time-consuming, even if you have a home warranty plan. At some time, it may be prudent to purchase a replacement unit.

How to Extend the Life of Your Refrigerator

If you want your fridge to last as long as possible, proper maintenance is essential. That involves cleaning its parts regularly, changing its supply lines, and bringing in a technician whenever something appears wrong.

Here are some tips for keeping your refrigerator in good working order:

1. Clean the condenser coils at least once a year.

Condenser coils absorb dirt, dust, and accumulation over time (particularly if you have pets), reducing their capacity to keep your fridge cool. Keep them in good operating condition by cleaning them regularly using a duster and the hose attachment on your vacuum.

They’re commonly found beneath the refrigerator, behind a clip-on plate or grate. They may be located at the rear of the unit in some variants.

2. Ensure that the door seals are clean and lubricated.

The seals on your refrigerator door (as well as the door to your freezer) assist keep cold air from escaping, but like the coils, dirt and grime buildup can prevent them from completing their job.

Make it a habit to regularly clean the seals with soap and warm water.

You should also inspect your refrigerator seals for tears or cracks and repair them as needed. Lubricating the seals can help keep them supple and elastic, which can help avoid tears. Add a small layer of Vaseline to the borders, and you’re ready.

3. Ensure that the vents are clean.

Interior vents in your refrigerator aid in cold air circulation throughout the device. These can occasionally become clogged with food, fluids, or even dust and grime, impairing your fridge’s capacity to circulate chilly air evenly. Inspect these vents regularly, and use a warm, moist towel to remove any clogs before they cause any damage.

4. Replace your water filter regularly.

Set a reminder to update your refrigerator’s water filter at least every six months if it has one. This guarantees that your drinking water (and the ice used to make it) is clean and free of microorganisms. It also prevents accumulation, which might irreversibly harm your water dispenser and ice machine.

5. Check that the fridge is level.

If you can tip the fridge downward, even slightly, on any corner, it’s not on level flooring. This might put a strain on the motor and reduce its longevity. Adjust the feet, so the unit sits entirely level to give it the best chance of a long and full life. (You may need to use a leveler on top of this to ensure accuracy.)

6. Allow plenty of room for it.

Give your refrigerator as much space as feasible. Allow at least a few inches on each side, and avoid putting goods – especially heavier ones – on top of the unit. Refrigerators require enough airflow to operate well, and shutting yours tightly with cabinets and other things might obstruct that flow and severely diminish its functioning capacity.

7. Recognize problems early on

If you believe something is amiss with your refrigerator, you should fix it as soon as possible. Weird sounds decreased cooling capacity, or issues with the ice maker or water filter should all be investigated by an expert as soon as they are noticed. Puddles in or around the refrigerator suggest a problem (perhaps with the supply line) and should be investigated.

A brief reminder: Avoid attempting to repair fridge-related problems on your own. Even if you’re competent, attempting to DIY your repairs might cause substantial, if not irreversible, harm to the device. Always contact an appliance repair professional if you believe something is amiss with your refrigerator.

Should I keep an old refrigerator if it still works?

Assume your refrigerator is still operational, but it is more than 13 years old. Is that something you should keep? The answer is a resounding yes! If possible, replace your old fridge because the cost of replacement may equal the cost of future repairs.

Furthermore, unlike ovens and dishwashers, older refrigerators use less energy than new ones. Purchasing a new refrigerator saves money you would have otherwise spent on high utility costs. A Freon-filled refrigerator is a 75% less energy efficient than a new one.

Furthermore, imagine an ancient refrigerator has a sealed-system leak. Because Freon is a hazardous liquid that a certified expert should only handle, you may need to bring in a maintenance specialist to recharge it.

How to Dispose of Your Fridge Properly

Like other electrical appliances, fridges include recyclable components and environmentally hazardous substances. As a result, you should not dispose of your refrigerator with the rest of your waste. Here are some pointers on how to properly dispose of your old refrigerator.

When the new refrigerator arrives, have the dealer remove the old one.

Alternatively, you might inquire with your municipal government to see if they offer a safe fridge disposal program. If it doesn’t, you may have it removed by a local recycling company.

If recycling is not an option, find out if the city’s home garbage collection service takes bulky waste. You may be charged a small fee for this service if this occurs.

After making inquiries, set up a time for the department to take up the fridge. If they have any special needs before pickup, such as removing doors, be sure you meet them on time.

On collection day, take it outside and place it away from structures, fences, and gas meters. If your city allows it, you may even do your garbage disposal.


It’s pretty telling that the lifespan expectancy almost entirely depends on the producing business or the user. And it would be preferable if one could learn how to maintain refrigerators if they want to use them for an extended time.


Editorial Staff

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