What Does Refrigerator Repair Cost?April 26, 2018
Is it more cost-effective to repair or replace my refrigerator?
There is a lot of variance in terms of refrigerator repair costs, which makes it difficult to answer these questions simply. Still, if you’re looking for an expert opinion on whether to repair or replace your refrigerator, you’ve come to the right place.
What are the most common, costly issues?
Most issues—such as a faulty thermostat, worn door gasket, or leaking icemaker—can be reliably fixed at a relatively low cost. So, unless you hate your current refrigerator, these issues don’t warrant purchasing a brand-new refrigerator.
There are only a handful of big-ticket repairs, mostly involving sealed system repair, that raise the question: repair or replace? All of the following can cost several hundreds of dollars, and more on high-end appliances.
- Compressor failure – This doesn’t have to mean the end, but if your refrigerator was under $1,000 new, it’s probably not worth putting a new compressor into it. Compressors are among the costlier parts, and replacing them requires specialized equipment and training. That said, it’s a repair we do on a daily basis, and our technicians have the specialized knowledge needed in spades.
- Refrigerant leak – Refrigerant leaks also don’t have to mean the end, but they do have to be addressed by a professional. Topping up the refrigerant is not a solution, as it will just leak out again (if anyone ever tries to sell you on ‘refilling the refrigerant,’ they’re running a scam). Finding and fixing the leak though is very reliable and can buy many more years for your refrigerator.
- Control board breakdown – Control boards are easily replaced or repaired and reprogrammed by a knowledgeable technician. (A well-trained technician can fix darn near anything!) But the parts can be expensive, and repairing and reprogramming the control board requires more time and labor than the usual service call.
- Major cabinet rust – Nope, just kidding, this one really is the end. We can fix most anything, but no one is going to replace the cabinet or frame of a refrigerator.
But remember: always have a professional technician diagnose the issue first, as a warm compartment may be due to either a failed compressor or a single faulty thermostat.
The brand of refrigerator matters a great deal
The Price of Parts
Refrigerator repair costs will range based, of course, on the time needed for the repair, but also upon the cost of parts, which vary greatly from brand to brand. A compressor or control board may cost $80 for a budget refrigerator, but upwards of $800 for the high-end models. For that reason, we cannot provide refrigerator repair cost estimates here with any specificity (though we certainly can in the home). But the general rule of thumb is: the more expensive the refrigerator, the more expensive the parts, the more expensive the repair.
The Availability of Parts
One of the main reasons most refrigerators must be replaced is discontinued parts of any kind. An otherwise perfectly good refrigerator with a bad fan motor may be rendered unrepairable because the parts are no longer available. This is why you buy brands you can trust. The best manufacturers will produce parts for decades to support old models, whereas lesser brands see a lot more turnover in the parts they carry.
Some brands don’t make parts available at all. If the refrigerator breaks under warranty, they swap it. If it breaks two days after warranty is up, you’re on your own.
The Average Lifespan
For consumer line brands, you largely get what you pay for.
|Basic refrigerator||7 years or fewer|
|Quality refrigerators||Up to 17 years|
At the top of the food chain, Sub-Zero claims its luxury refrigerators last 20 years on average. It wouldn’t surprise us, as we’ve repaired Sub-Zero refrigerators that are 35+ years old with excellent results.
As with anything, there are exceptions. We have repaired refrigerators from the 50s, so your Frigidaire might last the rest of your life.
Extending the life of your refrigerator
Typically, cleaning the condenser and changing any filters on the unit (water, air) are all that is required to keep the refrigerator operating in peak condition. It can also be beneficial to inspect the unit for ice or frost buildup in the freezer or refrigerator, as well as periodically checking for fault codes. This is best performed by a technician, and will vary from model to model.
If it’s time to replace my refrigerator, what does NHA recommend?
If you’re set on refrigerator replacement, we recommend the following brands generally:
- Budget – Frigidaire. You’re not buying anything flashy, but you’re getting a well-known, well-supported brand on a budget.
- Mid-Range – Samsung. You won’t find a more sophisticated refrigerator with a nicer fit and finish for the price.
- High-End – Sub Zero. There can be no other, and it’s really quite affordable when you factor the price over 20-30 years. This is the top of the top, and nothing surpasses the brand. Made in the USA, top-notch support, and designed to turn heads.
That said, often the most reliable refrigerator is the one in your kitchen. With every new generation of refrigerator, more features and increasingly complex technologies are added on top of the basic refrigerator. More features means more to break, so the seemingly reliable decision to buy a new refrigerator, may leave you calling repair sooner than you expected.