How long do refrigerators last?
Every time we diagnose a refrigerator with a bad compressor or sealed system problem on a 3-5-year-old unit, we know what follows next. The customer gets surprised (in an unpleasant way) because these problems mean very expensive and complicated repairs. Sometimes thousands of dollars. Then the customer tells us that the previous fridge has been working for 30 years and still runs in the garage. So consumers would hope to have the same refrigerator life expectancy from a new unit. The question “How long do refrigerators last?” turns from hypothetical into most actual for the moment.
Times change. Old refrigerators used to have old-style rotary compressors. They are loud, they do not match modern eco-safe requirements, they consume electricity as hell, et cetera. Like the huge displacement engines in old Mustangs. And like these engines, they might last almost forever.
But nothing stays the same. Engineers work constantly on new technologies, governments pass laws about the environment, customers tend to use more fancy electronic stuff, and so on. Your old refrigerator is insanely reliable and still works as a new one, but here is the truth. You would never buy it again these days because it is just old and obsolete in every corner.
New refrigerators have different сompressors – inverter or inverter linear when it comes to LG. These compressors are much quieter than the older style, more efficient energetically, and able to work with variable speed to save energy and maintain the temperature more accurately. However, since they need electronics to control performance, you have to deal with a bigger number of complicated parts. While old refrigerators used to have just one thermostat and compressor with a start relay, new units have up to 5-6 electronic boards to manage the system. Every electronic part consists of tens or hundreds of different components.
The more part you have in the system, the more it tends to break. That`s just the law of nature. Besides that, newer compressors and sealed refrigeration systems are built with thinner metal than they used to be built. Sometimes they are so fragile and sensitive that an inexperienced person may break evaporator coils or pipes while trying to take them apart.
So basically the answer for the given question “How long do refrigerators last?” would be “It depends”. Sometimes if someone gets lucky, he might have a new Samsung or GE refrigerator which would run for 15 years. It may happen, it may not. You simply can not rely on it. In 2016 Samsung corporation got a certificate from the German certification institute (Verband Deutscher Elektrotechnike) saying that Samsung compressors are able to run for 21 years. It sounds pretty cool, but as appliance techs, we have seen problems with these compressors even on the 2-3-year-old units.
In general, new appliances including refrigerators may work fine for 5-7 years before the first major repair. Then they may last for several years, depending on the issue and certain circumstances. For instance, Whirlpool declares that normal room temperature for refrigerators ranges between 55F and 95F. So if the fridge works summertime in the garage somewhere in Arizona, it may significantly shorten its life expectancy. However, if you don`t place the unit in that extreme environment, the refrigerator should last long.
And if your refrigerator is not working properly anymore, you need honest and well-qualified tech to tell if your is refrigerator worth repairing or it`s better to get a new one, considering all certain factors.
My Appliance Crew Service Team