Rotten produce and puddles on your kitchen floor are usually an indication that your refrigerator is past its expiration date. Both scenarios could have been avoided if you paid attention to the warning signs. Refrigerators don’t typically die suddenly. It’s a process. Like most electronics, deterioration is slow but obvious if you know what to look for.
Before I get into the best time to buy a refrigerator, let’s review the warning signs that tell you when to start shopping for your kitchen’s most valuable appliance. It’s not difficult if you use all five senses. Food will look, smell, taste, and feel different. You’ll also hear a change. Defrost timers, condenser fans, and compressors grind when they are close to failing.
Warning Signs That It’s Time To Buy A Refrigerator
How many times do you open and close your fridge every day? It’s okay. That’s what the machine was built for. Do you pay attention to what’s happening in there or do you simply grab and go? Take an extra moment. Train yourself to be aware of the warning signs and you’ll never get stuck throwing out dead food. Here’s a checklist to familiarize yourself with:
- Condensation: Cold air doesn’t hold moisture the same way that warm air does. When a refrigerator is not working properly, it heats up. You’ll see excessive condensation on the walls and chances are any plastic baggies or Tupperware will be damp when you pull them out. Your fridge could just need a minor repair, or you might need a new unit.
- Heat: Too much heat coming from the back of your fridge could mean that the end is near. Machinery heats up when it has to work too hard. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a new appliance, but you should get it checked out right away. Replacing a condenser fan or compressor can prolong the life of your old fridge.
- Food Spoilage: If an employee isn’t getting the job done, you fire them. Treat your fridge the same way. Its sole purpose in your home is to keep food fresh. When your sustenance starts to go bad prematurely, you likely need a new refrigerator. Call a repair tech if you want, but if the fridge is an older model it’s probably time for an upgrade.
- Frost: You have a problem when the inside of your freezer starts to look like an iceberg. It means that somehow warm air is getting inside or that the machinery is overworked. Frost is caused by warmth. This problem can usually be attributed to a broken door or worn gasket. Fix it, buy a new fridge, or invest in a chest freezer for your meats.
- Sound: Is your refrigerator running? I know. It’s an old joke. The truth is, if you have an efficiently running refrigerator, you won’t hear a thing. When you start to hear noises it’s time for a repair or a new fridge. This is perhaps the most obvious warning sign. It means you haven’t listened to anything else we’ve just told you.
- Age: Older horses (and people) are put out to pasture when they reach a certain age. Refrigerators are built to last from ten to twenty years. After a decade, they begin to deteriorate and become less energy efficient. Don’t wait for things to go wrong. Upgrading will save you repair costs and lower your utility bills.
Now that you’ve read the list, take a walk over to your refrigerator and run a general health check. Is there excessive condensation, frost, or heat buildup? Has your food been spoiling more quickly? Is the fridge old or loud? If any of these are true, it’s probably time to go shopping for a new refrigerator. Let’s take a look at when and how to do that.
Best Months To Buy A New Refrigerator
Just like with a grill, a mattress, or a TV, there are good and bad times to buy a refrigerator. Don’t go looking for a new refrigerator on Black Friday. The best month of the year to shop for this item is actually in May. Manufacturers roll out new refrigerators during the summer, so May is a great time to get deals on previous-year models. They have to be discounted to make room for incoming inventory. This is by far the best time of year to get a good deal.
September and October come in as a close second. Even though new models will already be on the floor, previous year inventory still takes up space. Manufacturers release new model appliances, with the exception of refrigerators, during back-to-school season. This creates an “everything must go” scenario for anything more than a year old. Take advantage of that.
You’ll see a similar scenario in January. Most stores run sales after the holidays. Those newer models released last summer should be ripe for the picking if you go in after New Year’s Day. You’ll also want to keep an eye open for weekend holiday sales this time of year. President’s Day is only a month away, so wait if you think you can get a better deal then.
Many appliance stores pay their salespeople on commission. Keep that in mind when you shop. There’s always room for negotiation with a commission salesperson. Time your shopping trips to be near the end of the month and on a weekday to gain the most leverage. They’ll be looking to score a monthly bonus on a slow day near their deadline.
Refrigerator Buying Tips
Side by side refrigerators look cool. They also require the most bending and reaching. Built-in refrigerators blend with your kitchen. They don’t typically have a lot of interior space. You have to look at the whole picture when you buy a new fridge. Purchasing an appliance this important based only on looks or price is a bad idea. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it have adjustable shelves? How many?
- Is it wide enough or perhaps too wide?
- Stainless? It’s durable, but does it match your décor?
- How loud is this refrigerator?
- Does it come with a warranty?
Final Thoughts: Best Time To Buy A Refrigerator
Your new refrigerator is going to be a permanent fixture in your home for the next decade. This is not a purchase you want to rush into. Hopefully, you’ve been paying attention to warning signs and aren’t stuck with a “must buy now” situation. Take some time. Visit a few stores. Shop online. There’s always good deals there.