How Long Does A Refrigerator Really Last?

It's hard to imagine life without refrigerators. The invention of the icebox in the 1860s revolutionized how we live, allowing us to keep items fresher and colder longer, according to Live Science. However, the compressors in older refrigerators utilized toxic gases, which was a deterrent for many homeowners. The invention of freon in 1928 made it safer and easier to keep items cold, and soon after refrigerators were common appliances in homes by the 1940s (via Apartment Therapy).

Generally speaking, refrigerators are durable. In 2013, the New York Post reported about a General Electric refrigerator that was keeping food cool 85 years after it was first purchased. Believed to be manufactured in 1938, the model is three feet tall with a globe on top which houses the cooling unit. While your fridge might not last more than half a century, you can expect most of the modern-day models to last approximately 12 years, per the Department of Energy.

How to make your refrigerator last longer

While an average of 12 years is a long time, there are ways to get more life out of your refrigerator. One way is to clean the condenser coils at the base or back of it; these coils are metal tubes that help your fridge stay cool. If they are covered in dust and dirt, heat cannot escape properly, which can cause your refrigerator to stop working. The best way to get clean coils is to vacuum them (unplug your fridge first). According to Bob Vila, cleaning the coils twice annually can help your fridge live longer.

Cleaning the door gaskets can also help add a few years to the life of a refrigerator because they, too, help the items in your refrigerator cold. If dust, dirt, and grime cover the gaskets, your fridge has to work harder to keep food cool, which could eventually lead to a worn out compressor. To clean, simply wipe them with a damp cloth, as noted by Consumer Reports.

Other areas of your fridge to inspect and clean are air vents, which are on the sides of the fridge and the top of the freezer. Consumer Reports also suggests that if your refrigerator has a water dispenser, clean the unit as well as the water filter periodically.