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How to help your refrigerator last longer

Father and son unloading groceries into their refrigerator

Most refrigerators last about 10 years, but there are some simple steps you can take to prolong your fridge's lifespan.

Asurion Experts are trained and experienced with all major appliances, so they know how to keep a refrigerator protected from unexpected breakdowns. Here's their guide on things you can do to increase your refrigerator's lifespan, as well as key signs that it may be time to replace your fridge altogether.

5 tips for refrigerator maintenance

1. Clean the condenser coils twice a year

This is a simple step that will extend the lifespan of your fridge. Just unplug your refrigerator and either pull the unit away from the wall or take off the kick plate at the bottom, then remove dust with a vacuum cleaner or brush.

2. Lubricate your fridge door gasket

The gasket is the flexible strip that provides insulation around the edges of your refrigerator door. It helps keep cool air in and warm air out. Over time, gaskets can become dry and cracked, allowing hot air to enter the fridge, which can reduce your machine's efficiency. To keep your refrigerator lining elastic and well-sealed, clean them regularly with soap and water on a washcloth and apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the outer edges as needed.

3. Regularly clean the refrigerator vents

The vents, which are usually found on the inside wall of the fridge and at the top of the freezer, help air to circulate. If these vents become dirty or obstructed, they won't work as well, which can cause uneven cooling and make your refrigerator work harder. Don't place items in the fridge or freezer in the direct path of airflow from the vents, and wipe the vents down regularly with a slightly dampened cloth (water or vinegar works).

4. Load your fridge properly

Aim for a fridge that's about three-quarters full. If you frequently load your refrigerator with hot food or leave the doors open for long periods of time, you're making your appliance work harder, which causes components to wear out more quickly. A fridge shouldn't be too empty either because cold items help keep the temperature low. On the flip side, overfilling your refrigerator can block air vents from circulating and reduce energy efficiency.

5. Fix your fridge as soon as possible

When problems arise, the speed with which you address them will determine how long your refrigerator lasts in the long run. Small issues, like a loose refrigerator door or broken seal, can have a huge impact on the overall lifespan of your fridge.

Signs that you may need a new refrigerator

While there are ways to prolong the life of your fridge, sometimes getting a new one may be inevitable. Look out for these four signs that your fridge may be getting ready to die so that you can avoid also having to deal with spoiled groceries. If simple troubleshooting steps don't help, consider reaching out to a fridge repair pro for help.

1. Your refrigerator is more than 12 years old

Refrigerators typically last a decade or so. If yours is about that age and starts to fail, a repair could require some costly, and harder to locate, new components. At that point, you may be better off purchasing a new fridge instead.

2. You can hear your refrigerator humming loudly

If you listen closely, you can almost always hear some sound coming from your refrigerator. But if your fridge is making a clearly audible buzzing or humming noise, it's likely a sign that something's wrong, even if your fridge hasn't started malfunctioning. Feel free to troubleshoot your noisy fridge at home first to make sure it's not an easy fix.

3. Your energy bill increased, but you're not using more power

If your energy consumption hasn't changed but you're suddenly paying more for it each month, your fridge may be drawing more power than it should. Consider having an appliance expert come check it out to make sure everything is working properly. An added bonus: Fixing any energy-efficiency-related issues with your fridge may help you save money on your electric bill long term.

4. Your fridge motor runs continuously

Your refrigerator's motor should run periodically to achieve the set temperature, and then it should shut off. If your fridge's motor runs all the time, it's a sign that it's working too hard and that your refrigerator isn't working effectively. Check out these tips to solve why your fridge is running too long.

If you do end up needing to purchase a new refrigerator for your home, make sure that it's protected.

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