How long do refrigerators last?

In most homes, the refrigerator may probably be the most expensive kitchen appliance. It is a popular appliance used to prolong the shelf life of food materials. Do you have a refrigerator that went bad recently but still occupies some space in your kitchen? Perhaps you still have a functional one, which has served you for up to ten years. Out of curiosity, you might want to ask “how long do refrigerators last?”

Well, this article is here to shed more light on your curiosity. It is important to note that the life span for modern refrigerators is lower compared to those built before the 1960s. Refrigerator innovation has undergone a lot of changes over the years. Modern refrigerators now feature automatic defrosting system, warning mechanisms, and energy management systems, and even built-in cold water dispensers.

What makes the refrigerator cold?

The refrigerator has a couple of parts that function to keep the temperature of our foods low. Basically, there are four important parts which are the compressor, expansion valve, evaporator, and condenser. A liquid called refrigerant, such as Chlorofluorocarbon is also utilized in the cooling process.

The common refrigerator uses a simple working principle. The evaporator vaporizes the refrigerant and heat is removed from the inside of the refrigerator. The compressor absorbs vapor and raises the pressure, resulting in increased temperature. The pressurized hot gas is then condensed to liquid form in the condenser. Through the expansion valve, the condensed liquid flows in and its temperature and pressure are regulated with that of the evaporator.

All these parts function collectively to move heat to the outside environment, resulting in lower temperatures in the refrigerator. Most refrigerators can get as cold as 2ᵒC to 4ᵒC (35ᵒF to 39.2ᵒF), which is the average temperature at which most chemical reactions and bacteria growth are inhibited. Other parts include the chassis, door, power cable, lightning, trays, and locks. Some refrigerators, however, may have a colder compartment called freezer.

How long do refrigerators last?

Refrigerators seem like they run endlessly, daily without rest. Averagely, most refrigerators last long but they certainly won’t be running forever. You need to determine if your appliance needs repair or replacement. When you continual spend on frequent repairs, you might need to start planning to get a new one. Also, if it is expensive to repair, you should consider getting a new one. There is no point in spending a lot on an old appliance.

The availability of original spare parts for your old refrigerator may also influence your decision. As your dear gadget ages, it loses its energy efficiency. Fortunately, modern refrigerators are becoming more energy efficient. Perhaps, it is time to reduce your electricity bills by purchasing a new one since it saves you more in the long run. Why spend money on repairing your old gadget, which also consumes more electricity, when there are newer efficient models?

Regardless of price value, size, and manufacturer, the average life of a refrigerator is between 15 to 17 years. Surprisingly, some old models may last up to 20 years. However, several factors including electricity supply voltage, electrical wiring and connections, and maintenance level, can affect the lifespan of a refrigerator. You might start preparing to purchase a new one as soon as your refrigerator nears or exceeds ten years old. Your appliance may die anytime soon.

How to prolong the useful life of a refrigerator

Various signs can indicate that your device is faulty. When you notice unnecessary condensation even when your device is powered, then you need to check its seals and temperature regulator. Other related signs such as rapid food spoilage, excessive heat, unpleasant odor and noise, and increased power consumption could also indicate that your refrigerator is faulty. Obviously, if your device doesn’t come up at all, it needs immediate attention.

Maintenance can go a long way in prolonging the life of your device. A normal refrigerator should never exceed 5ᵒC (41ᵒF). If it does exceed that temperature, then heat is not removed effectively from your device. The condenser coils, if covered with dust, would hinder the cooling effectiveness of your refrigerator. The condenser coils help to remove heat inside the refrigerator. They are located at the bottom of the refrigerator. It is recommended that you clean the coils at least twice in a year. Unplug the device before cleaning. Safety first.

Keep your door seals as clean as possible. The seals attached to the door are very important in the proper functioning of the refrigerator. It is normal for seals to weaken and tear. The consequence of loose door seals is energy wastage, which arises when cold air escapes the door when closed or hot air seeps into the refrigerator. If the seals are weak, you need to replace them. If the seals are new and your device still malfunctions, you need to call a technician.


By now, you should be aware of the number of years that your refrigerator can live. The article should answer your question about how long do refrigerators last. Dedicating some minutes to clean your refrigerator is nice. Some refrigerators have warranties of up to five years. If your refrigerator’s warranty is still valid, you can pass your complaints to the retail outlet. If your warranty has expired and you want to repair your device, make sure you consult an honest and experienced technician. On the other hand, if you want to buy a new one, purchase reputable brands from trustworthy retail outlets. Popular refrigerator brands include General Electric, LG Electronics, Kenmore and Frigidaire.

Avoid putting hot foods into the refrigerator. They are another source of heat, therefore, allow them to cool properly before dropping them in. It is important to know that your gadget may die anytime, regardless of how much you care for it. Even after spending on repairs, you might need to eventually abandon it. When discarding your old refrigerator, please do that in an environmentally friendly manner. Some parts may be recycled and some are quite detrimental to the environment.

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Jim Powell

Jim is our staff editor and writer. He has a degree in engineering. His hobbies are radio engineering and new technologies about which he has been writing for more than 7 years.

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