A refrigerator is a big-ticket purchase that every household will have to make. You should be extremely scrutinizing when you’re going to buy a new refrigerator. After all, your choice will be part of your life for a better part of a decade. Which brings us to this question: how long on average is the lifespan of a refrigerator?
According to a study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders / Bank of America Home Equity, the average lifespan of standard refrigerators is 13 years. Additionally, the average lifespan of freezers and compact refrigerators are 11 years and 9 years, respectively.
While refrigerators do tend to have a long lifespan, it wouldn’t get there if you do not maintain it properly.
In this article, we will discuss the average lifespan of a refrigerator, and what you can do to extend it.
What is the average lifespan of a refrigerator?
If you know how long the lifespan of a refrigerator is, it will give you a benchmark to compare against when you decide whether or not to replace your refrigerator.
Refrigerators are classified as durable goods, which means that their usable life is long. How long exactly? According to the previously stated study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), these are the average lifespans of the following types of refrigerators:
|Refrigerator (standard)||13 years|
|Refrigerator (compact)||9 years|
However, do keep in mind that these are just averages. As the NAHB succinctly puts it: “The life expectancy of a typical appliance depends to a great extent on the use it receives”, which means that proper maintenance can extend the lifespan of your fridge beyond the average.
How to know the age of your refrigerator
Some of us can clearly remember when we’ve bought a major item like a car, or an appliance such as a refrigerator. But if you’ve forgotten when you bought the fridge (or if you bought it second-hand), you can still get clues by looking at its serial number.
The serial number can be seen at two locations: first is at the refrigerator label (inside the fridge; the sticker stuck on the fridge wall), and the second is at the rating label (at the back of the fridge, somewhere near the compressor).
Note: The rating label is NOT on the compressor itself; in fact, the compressor has a different serial number.
Serial numbers often contain the year that that particular unit has been manufactured. Most manufacturers put it in the front of the string, while others put it somewhere near the front, as is the case with our refrigerator here that my family bought sometime in 2014:
How can you extend your fridge’s usable life?
Proper care and regular maintenance will help extend the life of your refrigerator. Here is a simple care and maintenance checklist and how often you should do them:
|Wipe off water on the body of the fridge||As needed|
|Defrost your freezer||Once a month/as needed|
|Clean the gasket||Twice a year|
|Clean the condenser coils||Once a year|
|Have it inspected by a technician||Once a year|
Also, you should set up your refrigerator properly the moment that you take it out of the box. Here are the best practices that can help prolong the life of your refrigerator:
- Don’t put it near a heat source
- Make sure the refrigerator is level
- Give it ventilation space
- Don’t put things on top of it
- Use power protection devices
- Don’t plug it into an extension cord
How to know when to replace your refrigerator
While refrigerators do tend to last for a long time, we can’t use them forever. Someday, our refrigerators will develop mechanical issues and will need replacing. We’ve written about this before, but here is the summary:
- Extreme condensation
- Compressor problems
- Weird noises
- Suspiciously silent
- When the sides get too hot
- When it underwent a major repair before
However, as the NAHB pointed out, appliances such as refrigerators are “often replaced long before they are worn out because changes in styling, technology and consumer preferences make newer products more desirable”.
Fridges and freezers are built tough to weather multiple years of use. However, do not be complacent; always properly care for and maintain your refrigerator so that you can extend its lifespan considerably.
- Economics Group of NAHB. (2007, February). Study of life expectancy of home components. National Association of Home Builders / Bank of America Home Equity. https://www.interstatebrick.com/sites/default/files/library/nahb20study20of20life20expectancy20of20home20components.pdf
Miguel Mores worked for 5 years as a member of the product management team for a home appliance company in the Philippines. He started 101appliance to answer the most common customer questions that he has encountered during his time in the industry. He now works in the digital marketing field and manages a small online bookstore on the side.