By performing a few simple maintenance tasks on a refrigerator, users can triple its lifespan. Since most refrigerators come with a 5-year warranty, this means a properly cared for unit is likely to last for up to 15 years and possibly more.
Modern refrigerators tend to fail when dust collects in their condensers which, unlike original refrigerators in which condensers were located on top, are located underneath the appliance. The compressor, which is the most expensive part of a refrigerator, tends to fail due to overheating, something likely to occur when dust and debris accumulate in the condenser. Without maintenance, condensers mounted underneath refrigerators are prone to fail a year or two after the warranty expires. Cleaning the condenser coils and fan once a year often extends the compressor lifespan by 10 to even 20 years.
The condenser coils should be cleaned at least once a year. To clean them, unplug the refrigerator and remove any protective grille or covering from the coils. Use a refrigerator brush or broom, or use a vacuum extension, to free lint and dirt from the coils. Finish by wiping the coils with a soft cloth, being careful not to snag the coils. Vacuum or sweep up any debris on the floor and wipe the grille or cover clean before putting it back in place.
Replace the rubber gasket lining the refrigerator door when it begins to deteriorate to keep the appliance airtight. Test the gasket's effectiveness by attempting to slide a dollar bill along the gasket when the door is shut. If the bill slides freely, the gasket is likely pulling away from the appliance and needs to be replaced. Deteriorating gaskets force the compressor to work harder, thereby shortening its lifespan.