How to Extend the Life of Your Refrigerator

Aaron AvatarA few weeks back my wife heard an odd sound coming from our 5-year-old refrigerator. She described the sound as “leaking water.”

I assured her this sound happens sometimes when the ice maker is filling with water.

Since my wife is pretty keen on these sorts of things, nor were we making ice (and it was – as she said – “not the typical refrigerator sound“) – I decided to call up our warranty department to see if they could get a repairman to come out and have a look.

What the refrigerator repairman taught us about extending its life

We were very fortunate to have a “teacher-type” repairman come to the house. He spent a fair amount of time with us and assured us there was nothing wrong with the refrigerator and it was actually probably just flow noise caused by the refrigerant moving through the pipes and the condenser.

As he was looking the appliance over, he noted a few things that he said will ultimately extend the life of any refrigerator if done consistently:

fridge coils
Coils the bottom of your fridge accumulate dust and can decrease the its life
  • Clean the coils on the bottom of the fridge. This is a no-brainer to many of you. But, when he showed us all of the dust that had accumulated underneath the unit, we were pretty amazed. He said to keep this clean as it helps the air to circulate in/out of the refrigerator and keeps the compressor from burning out. Some estimate this can extend the life of a fridge by 10 to 15 — maybe even 20 — years! A pretty simple task that can be 1 to 2x a year (or more) while you are cleaning the kitchen floors.
CAUTION: It's always best to unplug your fridge before you clean the coils. Most covers easily snap off so that you can get at the coils. Use a coil brush (under $10) or vacuum for best results.
  • Keep ‘er full – but with caution. Obviously, the more items that are in the fridge, the less air it has too cool. At the same time, you don't want to cram it so that air doesn't have the ability to flow efficiently through the unit.
vents in the fridge
Keep those vents clear of items!
  • Watch the vents. Speaking of having efficient flowing air through the fridge, there are vents inside the repairman reminded us to keep clear. So, make note of vents inside the unit and move any items around to give them adequate space.
  • Keep seals clean. Obviously a proper sealed fridge is going to keep the cold air in and the hot air out. You can clean the seals with soap and water. To test if your seals may be replacing, place a piece of paper between a closed refrigerator door and if it falls out, you'll need to replace em.
  • Organize! Another sometimes overlooked item but simple to do, is to keep items in the fridge properly organized. This helps you get in and out of the unit faster and lets less cold air out. This also goes back to helping the air flow within the fridge.

Want to save money on fridge water filters? This post may help.

Are there any other things you do to extend the life of your refrigerator?

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  1. Reading your post reminded me of the epic battle I had with my fiance when we first moved in together. I like keeping my dairy products all together like you, whereas he likes them all spaced out. For months I just let it go, but your post is making me want to organize our fridge sensibly once and for all!

  2. I think that thing I would need to work most on is organizing what’s in my fridge. I didn’t think that could help extend the life of my refrigerator. I’m willing to try it since it seems like I’ll save money in the long run and will possibly avoid needing repairs.

  3. Great advice. Now that we don’t have any cats, the coils and the front vent areas stay much cleaner :)

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