How Long Do Refrigerators Last?

By Erin Hynes | Sep. 29, 2021 12:45 pm PST

How long will my refrigerator last?

How long can you expect your refrigerator to keep working? The short answer is 12 to 15 years, on average. But a refrigerator can last longer than average if you clean and maintain it well.

Here are some valuable tips that can help your fridge last longer.

Clean the Refrigerator Condenser Coils

Cleaning the condenser coils helps the compressor work more efficiently, so the refrigerator lasts longer. To extend the life of your fridge, clean dust off the condenser coils yearly — or every 6 months if you have pets, because fur has a way of getting everywhere.

On most refrigerators, the coils are below the refrigerator, behind the bottom front grille. Pull off the grille so you can reach under the refrigerator. A coil brush is the best tool to use for brushing dust from the condenser coils.

When you clean the condenser coils also wipe dust from the bottom front grille. Dust on the bottom front grille can block air from circulating through the condenser coils and around the compressor.

Leave Ventilation Space Around the Fridge

Leave space next to, behind and above the refrigerator for ventilation. The space lets air circulate around the fridge, cooling the compressor and condenser coils. With good air circulation, the compressor works more efficiently and lasts longer.

Check the owner’s manual or installation guide for clearance requirements for your fridge. Many manuals recommend at least 1/2 inch of clearance on each side and 1 inch of clearance in back and on top of the refrigerator.

Also, don’t stack stuff on top of the fridge. As tempting as it is to use the top of the refrigerator as an extra shelf, it’s best to keep that area clear so air can circulate freely across the top of the refrigerator.

Don’t Block Air Vents Inside the Refrigerator

The evaporator fan circulates cool air through vents in the back or sides refrigerator. When loading your refrigerator, don’t block air vents inside the refrigerator or freezer compartment. Blocking internal air flow makes the compressor run longer and shortens the life of your fridge. Check your fridge’s owner’s manual for the location of air vents in your refrigerator.

Also, wrap or cover foods stored in the fridge. Moisture from uncovered foods can cause excessive frost on the evaporator fins, interfering with air circulation inside the refrigerator. Keeping the evaporator fins clear of frost helps the refrigerator cool more efficiently, so it lasts longer.

Maintain the Door Gasket

Clean the rubber gaskets around the refrigerator and freezer doors so the doors seal well. Spreading a very thin coat of petroleum jelly along the sealing surface of the door gaskets helps them seal tightly and last longer.

Check the gaskets regularly for cracks or damage. Loose or damaged door gaskets let warm, moist air into the refrigerator, which makes the compressor run longer. The moist air also causes excessive frost buildup on the evaporator fins. Then the refrigerator compressor will have to run longer to cool the refrigerator, shortening the life of the refrigerator. Replace any damaged door gasket immediately.

In addition to following these tips, schedule a refrigerator maintenance check yearly. The technician will check the controls, wiring and cooling system. The tech will also make any adjustments needed to keep the fridge in top condition so it lasts longer.