The Lifespan of a Refrigerator: Repair or Replace?

As an expert in home appliances, I am often asked the question: is it worth repairing an old refrigerator? The answer is not a simple yes or no, as there are several factors to consider before making a decision. In this article, I will share my insights on the lifespan of refrigerators and when it's best to repair or replace them.

The Average Lifespan of a Refrigerator

According to industry standards, most refrigerators can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. However, this is just an estimate and the actual lifespan of a refrigerator can vary depending on several factors such as make, model, use, and maintenance practices. If your refrigerator is less than 8 years old, it's usually worth repairing. On the other hand, if it's more than 15 years old, it's best to consider replacing it.

For refrigerators that fall between 8 and 15 years old, there are other factors to take into account before making a decision.

Other Factors to Consider

Aside from the age of your refrigerator, there are other important factors to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace it. One of these factors is the type of refrigerator you have. For instance, side-by-side refrigerators tend to have a shorter lifespan compared to top or bottom freezer models. Another important factor is the efficiency of your refrigerator. If your current refrigerator is not Energy Star-certified, it may be worth replacing it with one that is.

Energy Star-certified refrigerators have been shown to be 9 percent more energy efficient than other options that meet the federal minimum efficiency standard.

The Environmental Impact

Aside from the cost and convenience, it's also important to consider the environmental impact of repairing or replacing a refrigerator. Refrigerators can contain insulating foam that depletes the ozone layer and harmful materials such as mercury. Therefore, proper recycling is key when disposing of an old refrigerator. When replacing your refrigerator, it's best to look for models that are Energy Star-certified and use refrigerants that do not damage the ozone layer. This will not only help reduce your carbon footprint but also save you money on energy bills in the long run.

The Cost of Repairing vs.


One of the main factors that influence the decision to repair or replace a refrigerator is the cost. Troubleshooting is often the most time-consuming part of a home repair, so be prepared to spend time figuring out why your refrigerator is not working properly. Previous surveys have shown that refrigerators are fairly easy to repair, with 62 percent of repairs being done correctly on the first attempt and an additional 25 percent after two or more attempts. However, there are some serious and costly problems that may require professional help, such as compressor malfunctions, refrigerators that don't cool, and freezers that don't cool. When considering the cost of repair, it's also important to factor in the age of your refrigerator. As you can see when using a repair cost calculator, it often makes economic sense to repair a refrigerator even after 10 years of ownership.

However, this may vary depending on the original cost of your refrigerator and the estimated cost of repair.

How to Troubleshoot Your Refrigerator

If you're not sure what the exact problem with your refrigerator is and would like to find out before committing to hiring a professional, you can call the manufacturer's customer service. They may be able to help you troubleshoot the issue over the phone or through a virtual diagnostic tool. Some manufacturers offer virtual diagnostic tools that allow customer service to access your refrigerator remotely and identify the problem. Others may provide a series of diagnostic codes that you can transmit over the phone for them to analyze. However, always check if your appliance is still under warranty before using these tools, as trying to repair it yourself may void your warranty.


In conclusion, the decision to repair or replace an old refrigerator depends on several factors such as age, type, efficiency, and cost.

It's important to weigh all these factors before making a decision. Remember to also consider the environmental impact and always dispose of your old refrigerator properly. If you're unsure about the problem with your refrigerator, don't hesitate to seek help from the manufacturer's customer service. With proper maintenance and timely repairs, your refrigerator can last for many years to come.

Luke Lamberton
Luke Lamberton

Professional food aficionado. Avid communicator. Passionate coffee fan. Hardcore zombie advocate. Proud music enthusiast. Certified beer scholar.