Rattles, leaks, a broken ice maker or unexpectedly frozen (or unfrozen) food — it's a stressful situation when the fridge is on the fritz. The refrigerator is the home's most consistently used major appliance, and when trouble strikes, the big question is whether to repair or replace it. Typical refrigerator repairs involve faulty compressors and ice makers or replacement parts, which can be expensive to fix. Depending on the make, model and age of the unit, some parts may also be difficult to track down. Carefully consider the costs of parts and labor before you get a refrigerator repaired. It might be more cost-effective to purchase a new fridge, especially if you have an older model. Most refrigerator repair and maintenance professionals will break down the repair costs for you and make a recommendation. Refrigerator and appliance repair professionals often also service other home appliances including washing machines, kitchen appliances, hair dryers and similar items.
The national average total cost of a refrigerator repair ranges from $39 to $100, and varies depending on which part needs replacing, what brand and type of refrigerator you own, and your zip code.
Many refrigerator repair and appliance repair services charge a flat fee or service fee to come to your location and diagnose the problem with your appliance. Ask if there is a fee before you schedule an appointment. In many cases, the fee is waived when you agree to the repair. Diagnostic fees typically cost $60-$100, on average. Most refrigerator problems and strange noises have to do with faulty thermostats, dirty coils or clogged drain lines. If you hear a repair professional say these words, you're more likely in for a straightforward and (relatively) affordable fix.
Bad thermostats and dirty coils usually have the same warning sign: a fridge that won't hold its temperature — and both take approximately about an hour to fix. These fixes could run you $80-100, on average. When you see the fridge leaking, it's probably a freezer drain line that's clogged, causing water to build up and freeze at the base of the fridge (and eventually leak out). The cost of fixing this may vary a bit more, depending on how long you've let that layer of ice build up in the bottom of the freezer and what it takes to remove the clog from the drains.
Replacement parts and labor
Compressors, ice makers, defrosters, fan motors, evaporator fan motors, freezer components, a door seal and circuit boards are some of the more frequent appliance parts that need repair. A compressor, for example, can cost about $200, and an ice maker costs about $300, on average. Some refrigerator repair providers charge by the hour for labor; others charge a flat rate, based on the specific type of job. Some repair companies charge for parts and labor separately, while others fold all costs into one fee.
Some refrigerator brands cost more to repair than others. Common brands like Whirlpool, Sears, Kenmore and Samsung are generally cheaper to repair than less common models such as Liebherr refrigerators. Make sure that your service technician specializes in your refrigerator's brand and style. Side-by-side refrigerators may require special parts, as could those that have a bottom freezer, and built-in refrigerators may take more time for the repair technician to access.
Repair or replace
If fixing your fridge will cost more than half the cost of buying a new fridge, your best bet is to buy a new appliance. It also might be time to shop for a new fridge if your repair professional says you're low on refrigerant or you have a compressor problem. Both of these issues take a long time to fix, driving up labor costs.
Condenser coil cleaning
Coil cleaning is something a customer can do as preventive maintenance, but if dirt builds up over time, you need to professionally clean it out because your fridge won't keep cool with dirty coils.
Warranties and guarantees
Establish upfront if a warranty or guarantee is included in the price. Companies may provide separate warranties for parts and labor. For example, InFix Appliances Repair in Houston offers a one-year warranty on parts and a 90-day warranty on labor.
If your refrigerator is over 10 years old, carefully consider whether it is worth repairing or if it would be more cost-effective in the long run to get a new one. Many newer models are more energy-efficient, which can save additional money on a monthly basis. Also, if the repair involves an ice maker, consider whether or not you really need this luxury, which can be expensive to repair.
Try this maintenance schedule to keep things running smoothly:
- Weekly or monthly: Clean out your fridge so you don't overpack it, which can wear out the cooling system.
- Every six months: Change the water filter; otherwise your water supply lines will likely get clogged with calcium.
- Every year: Locate the condenser coils in the back and front of every fridge. They clog with lint, dust, pet hair, etc. If your coils go out it can cost you $500. Avoid that! Blow them out with compressed air and then vacuum them out with a shop vac.
- As needed: Request a refrigerator repair technician as soon as you see a problem developing. The longer you run your fridge through poor performance, the more damage you'll do.
- Keep the factory settings on. The company has them set as the default for a reason. If you turn the freezer or fridge to the coldest settings, the compressor will typically run all the time and won't be able to cycle on and off, eventually burning out the system.
- When talking to refrigerator repair service providers, try to get an estimate after explaining the problem. A preliminary quote can help you avoid an unnecessary diagnostic visit and allows you to compare providers. At the very least, ask about the repair technician's pricing structure for common repairs.