Fix broken fridge or get new fridge?
June 16, 2023 12:36 PM   Subscribe

The fridge that came with the house I bought is broken. Please help me decide whether I should fix it or get a new one.

Relevant facts:
  • It is ~12 years old (according to info on the sticker containing the model number and serial number).
  • It is made by Samsung.
  • It's been mostly fine since we moved in ~6 months ago, but it would intermittently get too cold and freeze the contents of the refrigerator. Now the freezer still works, but the fridge doesn't work at all.
  • I talked to several repair places around here and most of them won't/can't service Samsung appliances because Samsung will only sell parts to authorized repair shops.
  • I had somebody from an authorized repair shop come diagnose the problem. They quoted almost $700 (CAD) to fix it (including parts and labor). I've already paid $135 for the service call, which will be deducted from the repair cost if I go ahead with it, so I'm looking at another ~$550 to fix it. The parts they said needed to be replaced are (and I quote) "Ref evap cover assy", "Sensor temp", "Ref heater".
On the one hand, given the age of the fridge, I'm considering just ponying up for a new one. On the other hand, if I could get five more years of life out of it, I'd just as soon not toss this one in the landfill. But I've read that the expected lifespan of most refrigerators these is on the order of 12-15 years, so I don't want to pay for a moderately expensive repair now and then have something else break in the next year or two and have to buy a new one anyway.

What would you do? And, if your advice is to buy a new fridge, are there any specific manufacturers (or specific fridges) that you recommend?
posted by number9dream to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
New fridge time. This one owes you nothing. It’s a shame you already sunk the call out fee but don’t throw good money after bad.
posted by rd45 at 12:43 PM on June 16, 2023 [19 favorites]

You'll have to get a new one because Samsung. They have a predatory / nonexistent model of appliance repair that doesn't work at all, as I have learned to my considerable sorrow. I also had that expensive service call and I went with the repair, so I ended up spending $400 or more to fix my $600 washing machine. Two weeks later it was broken again. They won't return my calls and there is no way to complain; I could, conceivably, put another $135 on my credit card and get them here again, but I kind of don't want to do that, go figure. I will never buy another Samsung appliance but unfortunately I didn't find out about all this until my whole house was full of them.

Get a new fridge and make sure it's not a Samsung.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:45 PM on June 16, 2023 [18 favorites]

Oh and as for fridges, I am also in the market for a new one and I have learned two things:
Measure the doors the refrigerator will have to pass through to get to the kitchen before you fall in love with one.

Call up all the appliance repair shops around you and ask which brands they will fix. Pick one of those.
Because of the first issue I will probably never have a brand spanking new fridge, since as far as I can tell they must have built the kitchen around the 30 year old one that is slowly sputtering to death in my house.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:50 PM on June 16, 2023 [8 favorites]

Get a new fridge. You can live with a troublesome washer or dryer or dishwasher, but don't mess around with the fridge. Next time it will betray you on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve. Get rid of it before it can.
posted by caek at 12:51 PM on June 16, 2023 [4 favorites]

FWIW, in my area (NYC) GE service seems to be very well organized and responsive.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:57 PM on June 16, 2023

New fridge time, but check the Yale Appliance Blog entries first to see their reliability ratings (they sell and service basically all brands, so they know what % fail over time, and publish their results yearly). Most appliance reviews nowadays are just lists of features, but Yale is useful.
posted by aramaic at 1:12 PM on June 16, 2023 [19 favorites]

New fridge time. When we looked last year, the rules of thumb were

* Not Samsung
* Avoid gadgets
* If you want an ice maker, get one where the ice maker is in the freezer like a side-by-side and not one where it's in the fridge so they're fighting about keeping the ice frozen and the fridge unfrozen (caveman lawyer)

I think we ended up with specifically a frigidaire, but it's for sure one of the various interchangeable GE/Whirlpool brands.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:36 PM on June 16, 2023 [6 favorites]

Nthing new one and not another Samsung. The fact that it's ending up on the landfill now is on them, not you. We had a part break on our Samsung dishwasher and they told us there was no guarantee they'd even still have that part of it needed to be replaced since it was an old model. The dishwasher was only 3 years old. I'm still mad.

We ordered a third party part and fixed it, so we kept it going. But if the issue isn't something you're comfortable doing on your own it's just going to keep burning through money. Plus even if you were comfortable fixing, what if it goes again after you stuffed it full for a holiday feast? It's still in a landfill, now potentially with a lot of extra food, plus the stress/money on your part.
posted by ghost phoneme at 2:17 PM on June 16, 2023

If this happened to me, I'd look online for those parts to see if I could get them online (I don't think Samsung's control over parts is so good that you can't find anything) and then replace myself, as none of these are likely to be particularly difficult.
posted by ssg at 3:04 PM on June 16, 2023

When it comes to fitting new appliances through old doorways...

I have had luck sometimes in old, old buildings by TAKING THE DOORS OFF and then putting them back on, that usually buys you an extra 2-3 inches of width. Just remember that's what you did when it comes time to move the appliance out.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 4:08 PM on June 16, 2023 [5 favorites]

My last fridge lasted about 13 years before it croaked. As much as I reallllly wanted a French Door variety, I ended up with another side by side because we use the water filter on it all the time. In fact, one of my sons pretty much only drinks water. And this side by side is also deep enough for a frozen turkey.

Yes, they took the doors off to get it in my house.

But it's a GE, which my last one was, and, fair warning - this one is noisy as heck. It whistles, groans, and moans. Also, the filters cost $50, and I haven't found a knock off cheaper version yet.
posted by annieb at 5:08 PM on June 16, 2023

If you want to reduce waste or save money then check for a Habitat for Humanity Restore or other used appliance place. Or Facebook Marketplace. Keeping in mind that any used appliance (or new) may fail eventually or right away.
posted by Crystalinne at 5:41 PM on June 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

It's time. We've had decently good luck with buying best buy outlit fridges. Protip ugly dings on fridges are easily fixed with an appropriate sized magent.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:18 PM on June 16, 2023 [2 favorites]

Since no one has mentioned it yet, I will: A new refrigerator will be much more energy efficient than the one you own now, in some cases (according to the Energy Star program) up to a third more efficient. That’s better for the planet and, usually, your pocketbook.

Sorry that I am on my phone and it’s hard to put in links, but here’s went to a consumer reports article: Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 8:17 AM on June 17, 2023 [2 favorites]

Definitely new fridge time. I'd be shocked if those parts they quoted for are actually available at all. Samsung definitely doesn't have a monopoly on selling unserviceable appliances, so don't assume anything not-Samsung can be serviced. It's pretty much standard these days that appliances are made to work until the weakest link breaks, then thrown away. On the rare occasions you can actually get parts for them, the labor cost is so high that repairs are rarely viable economically for anything more than five years old.

Definitely important to measure not only the space you have (height, width and depth), but the pathway to get there. You can always take just the handles or the doors off to get it through doorways and this is relatively easy with very basic tools.
posted by dg at 5:26 PM on June 18, 2023

Response by poster: Ended up getting a new fridge. I called some local repair places and they all said GE was easy to repair, so we went with that. Thanks for the advice, everybody!
posted by number9dream at 1:00 PM on July 17, 2023

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