How to make your fridge last longer

How to Make Your Fridge Last Longer

You bought a new fridge.  Now what?  Extend the lifespan of you fridge with these easy tips which will also save energy and keep your food fresh.

When an airline buys a new 250 Million dollar aircraft, it will generally be in service for 30 years. A strict maintenance routine will keep it in the air.

One could expect a $50K car to last a decade at least and maybe twice that if someone serviced it regularly.

How about a fridge? How long would one expect it to last? 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?

Does it depend on price? Or Brand? Or weather conditions? Or Warranty?

Does it depend on the type of fridge? Do french door fridges, bottom mount, top mount or side by side fridges last longer?

The reality is, a combination of all these could contribute to how long it lasts.

And like all things mechanical, a large part depends on how it's maintained.

Unlike an Airbus A330 where an entire maintenance crew of engineers will methodically carry out numerous inspections, the household refrigerator is easy to maintain.

Fridge maintenance = longevity.

Part of the longevity routine is the safe storage of the manufacturer's warranty and sales receipt because one day you might need it. Place them into a plastic sleeve, freezer bag, lunch bag… whatever, and tape it to the back panel.

That way if it ever suffers an unforeseen mechanical failure, your documents can be found easily. The place of purchase will also have a record of sale. This way one can always show proof of purchase and the purchase date if ever you need to make a warranty claim. Consider it insurance.

Your fridge operates 24/7 and is the heart of the kitchen. Just like the human heart (which beats about 35 million times a year… amazing when you think about it) it does a lot of work. So it's important that we look after it. And if it works too hard for too long… well… it just won’t last as long.

Before diving into maintenance tips, it's handy to understand the basics of how your refrigerator operates. Most modern refrigerators consist of a compressor, condenser coils, evaporator coils, and a thermostat.

The compressor circulates refrigerant through the coils, cooling the interior of the refrigerator. Meanwhile, the condenser coils release heat generated during the cooling process, and the evaporator coils absorb heat from the interior.

So why is this handy to know?

Well, it's a bit like driving a car. We know a car has an engine, wheels, brake and accelerator.

I don’t know how to fix an engine, wheels, brakes or accelerator. I don’t have a clue how to fix any of those things but I do know how to drive a car.

I know how to top up the oil in my car, top up the water and pump up the tyres. I still can’t fix my car, but these simple things keep it running and keep my car happy.

The same principle applies to a refrigerator.

I know how to use a fridge. I don’t have a clue how to fix it. But I know a few simple things to keep it running and keep it happy

Here are my no brainer tips.

Cleaning and Defrosting

I don’t like cleaning my car. But I still do it. So.. clean your fridge too.

Do this 4 times a year. Time needed: 1 hour each time. Cost = $0

Regular cleaning is essential to prevent the buildup of dirt, dust, and food debris, which can hinder your refrigerators performance. Begin by emptying it and unplugging it from the power source.

Remove shelves, drawers, and any removable parts, and wash them with warm, soapy water. Use a mixture of water and vinegar to clean the interior surfaces, including the walls and door seals. Pay close attention to the rubber door gaskets, as dirt accumulation can compromise the seal, leading to energy wastage and temperature fluctuations.

If your refrigerator has a manual defrost feature, it's essential to defrost it periodically to prevent ice buildup in the freezer compartment. A thick layer of ice can reduce the efficiency of the cooling system and strain the compressor. Defrost your fridge when the ice reaches a thickness of around 3 cm, or if you notice a significant decrease in cooling performance.

Condenser Coil Maintenance

You wouldn't let your car radiator run dry. Topping up the radiator with water periodically allows the engine to cool, preventing it from overheating. Those of us who have forgotten to top up the radiator and overheated the engine will tell stories of the expense to fix it.

Fridges can suffer excessive heat too!

Do this once a year. Time needed. 20 minutes each time. Cost = $0

The condenser coils play a crucial role in releasing heat from the refrigerator's interior. Over time, these coils can become coated with dust and grime, reducing their ability to dissipate heat efficiently. To prevent this, it's recommended to clean the condenser coils at least twice a year.

Locate the condenser coils, which are typically located at the back or bottom of the refrigerator . Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to gently remove dust and debris from the coils.

Alternatively, you can use a soft brush or compressed air to clean hard-to-reach areas. Be gentle to avoid damaging the coils or other components.

Temperature Regulation

Every car has a temperature gauge. If the gauge is too hot, you know there is a problem.

The same applies to a fridge.

Do this 4 times a year. Time needed. 30 seconds. Cost = $0

Maintaining the correct temperature settings is crucial for preserving food freshness and prolonging the lifespan of your refrigerator. Most refrigerators operate best at temperatures between 3°C and 4°C for the main compartment and -18°C for the freezer.

Some modern refrigerator will show the temperature on a LCD display on the fridge. If you don’t have a fancy fridge, invest in a refrigerator thermometer to monitor the temperature regularly.

Place the thermometer in the center to ensure an accurate reading. Adjust the temperature settings as needed to maintain optimal conditions.

Avoid overloading the fridge, as overcrowding can obstruct airflow and affect temperature distribution.

Door Seal Inspection

You wouldn’t run the car air conditioner on a hot day with the windows down.

The same applies to a fridge. If the seals are cracked or broken, the cold air is going to blow right out the window (I mean the fridge door)

Do this 4 times a year. Time needed 1 minute. Cost $0

The rubber door seals, also known as gaskets, create an airtight seal when the refrigerator door is closed, preventing cold air from escaping and warm air from entering. Over time, these seals can wear out or become damaged, compromising their effectiveness.

Periodically inspect the door seals for signs of wear, tears, or looseness. If you notice any issues, replace the seals promptly to ensure proper sealing. To check if the seals are intact, insert a piece of paper between the seal and the refrigerator's edge. Close the door and try to pull out the paper—if you encounter resistance, the seal is in good condition.

Broken Fridge Door Seals prevent the fridge from cooling properly
(image: Poor fridge seals prevent it from cooling efficiently.)

If the door seals are in poor condition, consider replacing them. First check your warranty. Look up the manufacturers website or try finding a replacement seal online or on ebay. If you cannot replace the seals yourself, consider calling a handyman in your area.

Maintain Proper Ventilation

I recall a V8 supercar race where a plastic shopping bag (remember those) got caught in the front of the radiator of the lead car. In a short space of time, the engine overheated. All it took was a shopping bag to prevent air flow to the radiator.

Fridges need air flow too.

Do this 4 times a year. Time needed 30 seconds. Cost $0

Adequate ventilation around the refrigerator is essential for efficient operation and preventing overheating. Ensure that there is sufficient clearance around the fridge, especially at the back and sides, to allow air to circulate freely. Avoid placing the fridge near heat sources such as ovens, stoves, or direct sunlight, as this can cause it to work harder to maintain the desired temperature.


Your fridge is a critical appliance that requires regular care and maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

All it takes is a common sense approach to keep it running smoothly. It doesn't cost anything (unlike a car) and maybe an hour every 3-4 months to clean.

To check if the seals are intact, try sliding a piece of paper between the seal and the refrigerator's door frame.

Easy maintenance can stretch the longevity of your fridge by years, improving energy efficiency and preserving the freshness of your food.

Check the warranty on your fridge. Hisense often offer 3 years warranty. Samsung and Haier offer a 2 year manufacturer's warranty, where as Beko offer 5 years.

With proper care and attention, your fridge will continue to serve you faithfully, keeping your food fresh and your kitchen humming with efficiency.