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Signs a Refrigerator is Dying

July 9, 2020

Food spoiling too quickly? Fridge making too much noise? It may be time to repair or replace your refrigerator. Learn more with Howards.



The refrigerator is one of the most essential parts of your home. Without it, modern life would be virtually unimaginable. That’s why having a dying fridge on your hands can be a real pain. And whether you need to repair or replace your fridge, you’re going to have to fork over some cash no matter what.

But how do you know whether your fridge troubles are minor problems or signs of impending doom? Below, we’ll outline some of the most common signs a refrigerator is on its last legs, plus helpful tips for telling when it’s time to replace vs. repair your appliance.

8 Signs a Refrigerator is Dying

1. Food is going bad too quickly.

If you keep noticing that food goes bad before its printed expiration date, the fridge probably isn’t able to maintain a cold enough internal temperature. This could be the result of several possible problems. Sometimes the refrigerator is just old, while other times, there’s a specific problem with the motor or the gasket. Whether you need to repair or replace the fridge will depend on the root cause of the temperature problem. Keep reading to learn more.

2. Condensation appears on the outside of the fridge.

Have you noticed that your fridge door seems to be “sweating”? This is one of the most common signs a refrigerator is dying, and it’s usually a problem with the gasket or seal. Refrigerator door seals are crucial for keeping cold air in and warm air out. If there is a tear or break in the door seal, cold air will leak out, leading to spoiled food, excess energy usage, and inflated electric bills.

Depending on the age of the fridge and level of damage, door seals can usually be replaced. You can buy a gasket repair kit, or have a professional perform the repairs.

3. Excess frost.

If your refrigerator or freezer seems to be building up excess frost, this can also indicate a problem with the internal temperature. Again, you may need a professional to assess the cause of the damage, but it’s definitely worth investigating to make sure the problem doesn’t get worse.

4. Your refrigerator is super noisy.

The motor on your fridge should occasionally make noise when it’s running. However, if your fridge is always annoyingly loud, it usually means the motor is being overworked. The motor is necessary for regulating the internal temperature of the fridge, but it shouldn't need to constantly run at full speed.

5. Your refrigerator never makes any noise.

On the other hand, if your fridge is completely silent, it might mean the motor isn’t running enough – and you might need to get a professional to look into the issue. 

6. The coils feel too hot.

Because refrigerators use a lot of power, they will always emit some heat. However, if the coils (found on the back of the fridge) are constantly, excessively hot, the fridge probably isn’t running efficiently and may get worse without intervention. While not the most obvious of signs a refrigerator is dying, it's essential to check your coils for just this reason.

7. Cracks in the shell.

Cracks in the interior or exterior walls of the fridge are never a good sign. Just like the gasket, the refrigerator walls help keep cold air inside the fridge. Cracks in the shell tend to be very difficult to repair, so you’ll definitely need a professional opinion on whether to repair or replace.

8. The refrigerator is over ten years old.

Most refrigerators are designed to last between 10 and 20 years. If you’re having any of the other problems on this list and the fridge is over ten years old, you’ll probably save more money in the long run by simply replacing it. Otherwise, you could sink money into repairs for a fridge that’s already on its way out.

Repair or replace?

Have you noticed some of the above signs your refrigerator is dying? When it comes to deciding whether to repair or replace your struggling refrigerator, keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Cost of repairs vs. cost of a new fridge – First, get a quote or two from a professional regarding the possible repairs on your fridge. Then research current refrigerator trends and options to find a fridge that matches your household needs. If the cost of repairs is more than 50% of the cost of a new fridge, considering replacing the fridge.

  • The age of the fridgeAccording to WikiHow, built-in fridges, fridges that are two years old or less, side-by-side fridges that are five years old or less, and bottom-freezer fridges that are seven years old or less may be worth repairing.

  • Whether the fridge is under warranty – Check with your manufacturer or retailer to check on this.

Sure, forking over a large sum of money fora new appliance might seem painful. But since newer models are usually designed to be more energy-efficient, you can think of the new purchase as an investment in a more cost-effective solution overall. If you think you’re due for a replacement refrigerator, check out the Howards selection of fridges and freezers today.
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