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Is Your Fridge Just Sick or Dying?

8 Indications of a Deteriorating Refrigerator

Exploring Financing Options?

Initiate Your Refrigerator Purchase Today

  1. Resource Center
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8 Signs Your Refrigerator Is Dying

7 min readUpdated Mar. 19, 2024Eric WoodRefrigerator
Signs Your Refrigerator Is Dying

Rapid food spoilage or excessive moisture on your refrigerator’s exterior could indicate that your fridge is on its last legs. As a central component of modern living, a malfunctioning refrigerator can disrupt daily routines. To help you navigate this critical decision, we'll outline common indicators of a failing fridge and offer insights to determine whether repair or replacement is the best course of action.


  • Premature food spoilage, external condensation buildup, and excessive frost accumulation may indicate underlying refrigerator problems that could lead to costly repairs or the need for replacement, particularly in older units.
  • Unusual noises like loud vibrations or knocking could signal a failing compressor, while unnaturally quiet operation paired with cooling problems indicate potential issues with electronic components or the sealed refrigerant system.
  • Structural cracks, hot cabinet sides, and age surpassing a decade are clear indications of a deteriorating refrigerator, often signaling extensive and expensive repairs or suggesting that replacement may be more cost-effective, especially when repair costs exceed 50% of the price of a new unit.

Are you experiencing rapid food spoilage or annoyed by excessive refrigerator noise? If so, it might be the right time to consider replacing your fridge.

The refrigerator holds a pivotal role within your household -- a cornerstone of modern living. Consequently, dealing with a malfunctioning refrigerator can be a significant inconvenience. Determining when it’s time to replace your fridge is a pivotal decision that you should carefully consider because it involves a significant financial investment. Replacement refrigerators are expensive.

We’re here to help you decide when and how to replace that troubled fridge.

Is Your Fridge Just Sick or Dying?

How can you discern between minor fridge issues and the ominous signs of impending malfunction? In the subsequent sections, we’ll delineate some prevalent indicators that your refrigerator is nearing the end of its lifespan. Additionally, we’ll offer valuable insights to help you determine whether replacement or repair is the more prudent course of action.

8 Indications of a Deteriorating Refrigerator

1. Premature Food Spoilage.

Noticing that your perishables are perishing before their expected expiration dates? Chances are, your refrigerator is struggling to maintain the set temperature. Several factors could be contributing to this issue. It might be a consequence of age, or it could be due to specific component malfunctions or gasket failures. The decision between repairing and replacing the fridge hinges on the cause of the problem and the problem and the cost to fix it. Read this WikiHow article “How to Diagnose Refrigerator Problems to learn more about cause of fridge cooling problems. Generally, when your fridge is older than 10 years and you’re facing an expensive repair that will likely run over $800, you’ll likely need to replace the refrigerator.

2. External Condensation Buildup

Have you observed your refrigerator's exterior exhibiting signs of moisture? This phenomenon, often referred to as "sweating," is a typical symptom of a failing refrigerator. Hot refrigerant gas circulates through the cabinet in refrigerant tubes to drive out moisture. This keeps the cabinet from sweating during normal operations. Compressor, refrigerant or control problems often prevent the hot gas from circulating through the cabinet to prevent sweating. Fixing these types of problems is often expensive so it will often be more economical to replace the fridge rather than repairing it.

frosty meat in fridge freezer

3. Excessive Frost Accumulation

The presence of excessive frost within your refrigerator or freezer can be caused by failing door or cabinet seals. Examine the door seals and replace them or have a service technician replace them if they’re torn or damaged. If you have an older fridge and the door seal replacement parts are no longer available, you’ll need to replace the refrigerator. If air leaks through the liner or another area of the refrigerator cabinet, then it may be more economical to replace the fridge rather than repairing it. Some cabinet leaks aren’t repairable so you’ll need to replace the refrigerator when you face this scenario.

4. Unusual Noise Emission

It's not uncommon for the refrigerator's motor to generate a faint hum during operation. However, if your fridge perpetually emits a loud vibration or makes knocking noises when the compressor motor shuts off, it's likely that the motor is failing. The compressor motor's role is critical in regulating the internal temperature of the fridge and replacing the motor is often expensive (when a replacement motor is available). Excessive compressor motor noise is often an indication that you’ll need to replace the fridge.

5. Uncharacteristic Silence

Conversely, if your refrigerator remains eerily quiet, it could imply that the motor isn't running as frequently as it should. This symptom will often be paired with cooling problems inside the fridge. In such instances, enlisting professional assistance to investigate the matter is advisable. When the failure is caused by defective electronic components or a problem with the compressor or sealed refrigerant system, you’ll sometimes be better off replacing the fridge rather than paying for an expensive repair.

6. Cabinet Sides are Hot

As discussed in the above segment on cabinet sweating, refrigerant lines carry hot gas through the sides of the cabinet to drive out moisture and prevent the cabinet from sweating. When the sides of the refrigerator cabinet are constantly hot to the touch, the condenser fan may have failed or the condenser coils may be dirty. If you clean the condenser coils and the condenser fan runs but the problem persists, then a more serious and expensive failure in the sealed refrigerant system may be causing the problem. When a simple fix won’t cure the issue, you may need to replace the fridge.

7. Structural Cracks

The emergence of cracks on the interior or exterior walls of the refrigerator is an unfavorable omen. You’ll likely experience cooling problems and excessive frost along with this type of refrigerator failure. In many situations, the liner and/or outside cabinet aren’t available as replacement parts. Even if the parts are available, replacing them is often an expensive repair. When a structural crack emerges, it’s often time to replace the fridge.

8. Age Surpassing a Decade

Typically, refrigerators are designed to endure for 10 to 20 years. If any of the aforementioned issues plague your refrigerator and it surpasses a decade in age, opting for replacement might yield long-term financial prudence. Otherwise, investing in repairs for a refrigerator already approaching its end might be counterproductive.

Repair or Replacement?

Have you identified some of the aforementioned harbingers of a deteriorating refrigerator? When confronted with the choice between repairing or replacing your ailing fridge, consider the following aspects:

  • Cost Comparison: Begin by obtaining quotes from professionals regarding potential repair expenses. Subsequently, explore contemporary refrigerator trends and models to find a suitable replacement that aligns with your household requirements. If the cost of repairs exceeds 50% of the price of a new refrigerator, prioritizing replacement could be reasonable.
  • Appliance Age: According to WikiHow built-in fridges are often worth repairing even when they’re older than 10 years. Generally, fridges that are two years old or less, side-by-side fridges that are five years old or less, and bottom-freezer fridges that are seven years old or less may be worth repairing. When the unit is over 10 years old, it typically makes more sense to replace the refrigerator rather than paying for an expensive repair.
  • Warranty Coverage: Consult your owner’s manual or check with the manufacturer to ascertain any existing warranty coverage. When a repair is covered by a parts and/or labor warranty, you’ll naturally want to have your refrigerator fixed under the terms of the warranty.

Undoubtedly, investing a substantial sum in a new appliance might appear daunting. However, considering that newer models tend to boast enhanced energy efficiency, this expenditure can be viewed as an investment in a more economically viable solution overall.

Exploring Financing Options?

Most of us don’t have the cash on hand to pay for a new fridge right away. At Sears, we offer many different ways to help you both save on a new fridge and pay for it with innovative financing.

Explore these financing options at or reach out to a Member of our Home & Life Concierge team today: 847-505-7786.

Sears offers these valuable incentives to help you buy that new fridge:

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Initiate Your Refrigerator Purchase Today

When you know it's time to buy a new refrigerator, explore our extensive array of refrigerators and freezers at today!

We’ve consolidated all help, financing offers and savings into one location on our Upgrade page to make it easy for you to replace your refrigerator now. No hassles and no waiting. Get your new fridge today.

Schedule your refrigerator repair now!

Backed by years of experience, our technicians possess the skills necessary to fix your refrigerator. And because our techs our local, they can fix it for you fast.

Call (213) 596-2538 or schedule online now.

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