How long do refrigerators last? We asked an expert
It all depends on the fridge—and you
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We expect refrigerators to last a lifetime, don’t we? Isn’t the fridge at your parents house the same one they’ve had since you were a kid? For many people who don’t give a lot of active thought to large appliances, it may never occur that the refrigerator has an expiration date—just like the food inside. But it does.
While refrigerators vary in size, style, and features, they are an essential part of any kitchen. Every household needs a place to keep food cold and fresh, and the mere thought of it dying can be stressful.
This all begs the question: How long do refrigerators last? If you’re in the market for a new one, or think maybe you should be, then you’ll want to know what to expect. To get the answer, we went straight to a pro: Jessica Petrino, the editorial director at national appliance retailer AJ Madison.
So what’s the answer? Petrino says, “In today’s day and age, 8 to 15 years.”
If you’re feeling like that’s not a specific answer, you’re right. Petrino says, “Longevity is all over the map. There’s no good predictor.”
So, to help you out, we dug even deeper.
Spending more may lead to increased life span
The wide range of a refrigerator purchased today can be the result of a few factors. Out of the gate, a luxury refrigerator is going to last you longer and potentially up to 20 years, Petrino says, “You get what you pay for.”
There can be differences in quality between an affordable brand versus a luxury brand, but it comes down to consumer habits, as well. When you spend more on a refrigerator at the time of purchase, you’re going to take the time to repair and maintain it. Consumers who spend less money are generally more inclined to just replace rather than repair the appliance.
Advancing technology urges purchasing sooner
While it feels like refrigerators may not be made to last, this type of planned obsolescence could be credited partially to consumer habits.
Petrino explains, “It’s not just that the products are breaking, the technology has evolved so much that people are wanting the next best thing.”
While it may be fun to say refrigerators just aren’t made like the good old days this isn’t always a bad thing. The trade off for longevity is advanced features and incredible energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency in newer models means operating costs drop way down
A refrigerator from the 1990s or early 2000s costs $200 more per year to run than the energy efficient models today.
Many municipalities offer recycling programs and rebates to help you haul away old appliances in exchange for those more energy efficient models.
So while it feels overwhelming to make a big purchase that won’t last forever, there are certain practices you should take to ensure that you get the most out of your appliance.
Extend the life of a fridge by maintaining it properly
If you’re not yet in the market to replace your refrigerator, and you want to ensure it continues to run smoothly for years to come, there are a few things you can do.
First off, make sure it’s installed right. If the refrigerator is installed into built-in cabinetry, rather than standing freely against a wall, then installing it appropriately is especially important.
Refrigerators are most often back breathing appliances, meaning they will need to ventilate and often do so on the rear of the machine. Refrigerator manufacturers have specific instructions on how much space thel appliance needs, so read the manual.
Not allowing appliances proper breathing room results in filters getting clogged quickly and the machine not requiring more power and becoming less efficient.
You should also routinely vacuum behind fridge coils to clear them of dust and debris that can clog up the mechanics.
Some fridges also have top panels that can be opened. Going in and giving it a quick vacuum can also help clear out any dust that can build up.
These cleaning measures are easy for the average consumer to complete and the only complication are for models that get built into cabinetry.
Lastly, familiarizing yourself with the filters on your refrigerator can extend its life. Most refrigerators have an air filter and a water filter. Learn where they are and how to clean them; this will keep the mechanisms of your appliance running smoothly.
This is especially important for those with water and ice dispensers. Not only will it keep these special features functioning, but it will keep your water tasting right.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.