Old fridge not cooling anymore: Fix or toss?

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The last few years have seen a major revival of the do-it-yourself mindset. And why not? With cloudy economic forecasts upon us, now more than ever is the time to be the master of your own house and ensure you get the maximum time out of your home appliances, saving money and taking pride in your own handyman abilities in the process. Refrigerators are actually fairly complex and ingenious pieces of machinery, and if you really want to nerd out, there is even a dictionary of refrigeration out there. But repairing a fridge is, for the most part, usually pretty easy and rather rewarding.

Samsung is a particularly great brand for refrigerators in large part due to long lifespan (up to twenty years) and its charming and useful integration of smart technology and screen monitors. There are great online resources where you can find fridge parts to save a lot of money in repairing your fridge rather than making a big investment in a replacement.

But when do you know that the time has come to ditch the fridge completely and get a new one?

First, you need to know what’s wrong. Before doing anything else, check to make sure everything is plugged in correctly and that the outlet your fridge is plugged into is still working properly. You can try plugging another item in the same socket to test out its effectiveness.

After that, check that your refrigerator door is closing properly. Look closely at the seal to be sure it’s working properly and use your hand to determine if any cold air is seeping through anywhere. While you’re at it, test out the fridge light to make sure that it’s turning off when the door closes and check the thermostat to eliminate the possibility that you may have bumped it or otherwise offset the temperature marker.

The next step is to clean out the area around the coils (underneath) and the air vents (underneath or behind). Blockages around either of these parts are other likely culprits for a faulty fridge.

Finally, clear out your fridge a little bit and toss out anything that’s going bad or you’re not going to consume. Excessive space use in the fridge can cause circulation issues that will make the temperature rise due to the cooling apparatus not working properly.

Reasonable repairs

There are several possible things that could be causing cooling problems with the fridge which require simple repairs or item replacements. Most are fairly cheap. Fans for example, be it the evaporator fans in the rear of the fridge or freezer, or the condenser fan located underneath the appliance, can slow down or make strange noises that are indicators that they need to be replaced. Generally speaking, these are very cheap parts to replace, requiring minimal removal and reinstallation that you can do yourself.

Gaskets, the parts that make the refrigerator door seal together and keep all of the circulating cold air inside, can get worn and cracked, causing the cold air to leak out and the temperature to drop accordingly. If this happens, you need to get new gaskets. In this case, there’s no need to fear the costs, as gaskets are cheap to replace and easy to take out and reinstall.

You should also check your refrigerator warranty to see if it’s still covered. Most refrigerator warranties only last a year but some individual parts may be fully replaceable for free. One such example is the condenser, which is probably the most complex and expensive part of the refrigerator to replace. If you have a condenser failure and your warranty does not cover it, it may be worth considering tossing the fridge at that point and getting a new one. On top of the repair or part replacement cost, condensers from an older model fridge may be difficult to find.

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