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.
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.
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 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.
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 you’re set on refrigerator replacement, we recommend the following brands generally:
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.