A refrigerator is a costly appliance that homeowners tend to wish lasts a long time. On average, refrigerators last about 13 years, but they can start to break down sooner if not properly cared for. Some work perfectly well beyond their average life expectancy. So, how can you be one of the lucky refrigerator owners who sees their appliance last 16, 17, or more years without major problems?

Here are some areas of consideration when it comes to refrigerator longevity:


You probably thought of cleaning the fridge because it smelled bad or you spilled something. But keeping it clean can actually help extend the life of your refrigerator. At least once a month, clean the inside with warm water and soap. Bad odors can be dealt with using a mix of vinegar and lime. Other tips for cleaning the fridge include:

  • Cleaning behind the appliance two or three times annually, which keeps the coils clear of dust and pet hair that can reduce efficiency and increase the load on the compressor.
  • Removing dirt and grease from the door seals with warm water and soap, wiping gently with a cloth to avoid damage and excess wear.
  • Cleaning the drip pan regularly, about every two weeks.
  • Occasionally defrosting the fridge if there’s no auto-defrost function.


An empty or overfilled refrigerator doesn’t work efficiently due to issues with air circulation. The compressor must work harder to cool an empty refrigerator, while an overfilled one impedes air flow and can wear out the compressor. Also, putting hot food in the fridge can be detrimental, so wait for items to cool to room temperature before placing them inside.


Keep your refrigerator away from heat sources, as you would an air conditioner. Placing it near a gas stove can put extra strain on the compressor as it works to cool things down. A fridge placed in an area where the temperature is lower can last longer. Avoid placing it close to an oven, heat vent, or in direct sunlight.

Avoid Bad Habits

Common bad habits include using the top of the fridge for storage. Placing cereal boxes, food storage bins, and other items on top prevents the appliance from releasing hot air. Warmer air is usually dumped through the top and rear of the system. All those boxes on top may be trapping this air and limiting the fridge’s cooling ability.

Covering up food items inside is a good idea. It can prevent moisture from forming and interfering with cooling. Also, stay abreast of the temperature settings. If the temperature is lower than necessary, the appliance will work harder, which can accelerate wear.

Check for Problems

Looking for issues from time to time can help spot problems early so the damage, and repair bill, may be minimized. Also, don’t ignore issues such as the fridge running constantly or cutting off too soon. Check the coil for ice and, if the door isn’t closing properly, cooling capacity will be affected. To test the door, close it on a paper sheet; if the sheet slips after you close the door, the seal may be faulty. And, if you hear anything unusual, be sure to call a professional.

Wilshire Refrigeration & Appliance, Inc. provides factory certified service for Sub-Zero refrigerators. Honest, prompt, and respectful, our technicians can perform any kind of repair or replace your old fridge with a newer, more energy efficient appliance. For same-day, white glove service in Southern California, call 800-427-3653 or request service online.