Is a Refrigerator Running for 46 Years Safe?

Friends we have a GE refrigerator in our basement built in 1962. It has been running for 46 years! We have to unplug it every four months to defrost the freezer but it runs fine giving us loyal service seemingly forever.

I do wonder sometimes if this appliance is safe, nothing seems amiss with it as of now. Eventually it is going to malfunction. What is finally going to stop this beast from running? Is it even safe to keep going, 46 years is a very long time for wiring, moving parts etc, do I have anything to worry about or were refrigerators designed then to last a life time.

I don’t see any reason why it would be unsafe.
However, it’s costing much more than a modern refrigerator to run.

The reason that refrigerators can run for such a long time is that the only moving part (assuming there is no cooling fan, which is a more modern design) is the compressor, and it is completely sealed, and bathed in lubricant. It could run for another 46 years.

It’s safe but you’d better catch it!

Offhand I’d be more worried about how inefficient it was and how much it cost to run. The door have to be leaking all over and the wiring has most likely dry rotted. I’d say retire the beast and buy something you don’t have to deal with every four month and save on your electric bill.

Still, over 40 years is a long time. I could see commercial units lasting that long, but a home unit. Wow.

:stuck_out_tongue: Let me guess, it’s one of those “tombstone” shaped ones? Those things just don’t seem to have the good sense to quit.

As long as the thing keeps food properly cold, it’s good. If you’re concerned about it failing, you might want to consider using it for beverages - cans of pop or beer won’t be harmed if the fridge dies and they warm up to room temperature.

On the other hand, a new fridge will be more energy-eficient, so you might want to consider replacing it just for that alone. Your local electric utility might even offer a bounty for disposal of the old one - out here, they generally pay about $35 and haul it for free, so it’ll be properly handled.

ETA: With a name like Icerigger, why do you even have a fridge?

My grandmother has a fridge that’s about that old (it certainly predates me, and I’m 32), and it seems to work fine. She mostly uses it for drinks, though.

Yes it is “tombstone” shaped.

My dad had it rigged for draft beer. He had a fitting on the side to plug in a CO2 tank and he put a keg of beer in the frig with a tap on the front of the door. At family parties we would have draft beer on tap for the guests. We kids did sneak some by drinking directly from the tap. Don’t tell my mom. :wink:

They used to make stuff to last but nowadays they just make stuff to need replacing in a few years (or less) so they can sell more. sigh Now get off my lawn!
If you’re worried about safeness related to food temperature just get yourself a fridge thermometer to keep inside. But I’m with some other comments and would just use it for drinks and other non-perishables, just in case.

Thanks for the advice, temp is no problem, when we defrost the ice is two inches thick. :stuck_out_tongue:

If your family is like mine, mom knew. :wink:

There’s no reason it wouldn’t be safe for food, but two caveats: First, as Si Amigo mentioned, the insulation on the wiring might have degraded, which means that it might conceivably become an electrocution hazard. Second, whenever you do eventually dispose of it (for it stopping working, or just to replace it with something more efficient), you’ll probably have to deal with some environmental regulations concerning whatever it’s using as a coolant fluid (probably some sort of CFC, or possibly ammonia).

and remember to remove the door when you dispose of it. Seriously. (I’m assuming it has an old-fashioned physical latch, not a magnetic closure.)

A couple decades ago, there used to be a whole set of social obsessions and legal regulations about refrigerator door latches. Kids used to die of asphyixiation playing with old fridges and getting locked inside when the door accidently slammed shut.

One thing you can do is test the seal by putting a dollar bill on the gasket, then close the door on it. If you can pull the bill out easily, it means the gasket is shrinking and air is leaking.

In a refrigerator of that era, the gasket can be replaced easily. If they still make them.

:eek: Beer will surely be harmed if it warms up after being cold. That is a common cause of Skunking.

As others have said, see about getting it hauled away. If you have a friend with an Amperage checker, you might be frightened by the results you see. You could get a significant reduction in your electric bill by not running it.

If you can find the manufacturing plate, see what it lists for running Amps and compare to a new efficient Fridge of the same size.

Icerigger, these other fools make good points, but how about one that matters: CAN YOU SELL IT? :smiley: There are strange people out there who groove on ancient stuff, including appliances (Robert Crumb springs to mind).

Skunking is caused by a photochemical reaction. Heat may change the flavor of the beer, but cooling it then warming it will not. It is the warm cycle that is doing the damage, the cold cycle has nothing to do with it.

Right, sure, so if you take warm beer and cool it and it is fine but then you let it warm up and then let it cool again and it taste skunky, that had nothing to do with cooling and then letting the beer warm up again. Maybe there is another term for what happens, but I assure you the cold to warm to cold cycle often results in bad beer.

If that happens, it was the warmth that did it. I’ve done it many times and my beer is always fine.

Here is a good read on making beer go bad

Here is another one

And another

I can’t think of any rational mechanism that would make room temp/cold cycles affect the flavor more than just the room temperatue alone. A genuinely skunked beer smells like a skunk. The cold-warm-cold causing beer to go bad myth is just a bit of beer lore added in with some confimation bias.

On the energy-use angle, according to this pdf, the 'fridge is probably 3 to 5 times less efficient than a modern 'fridge.

From previous calculations, I figure my 'fridge costs me about $40/year. That means you might be paying something like $80 to $150 more than you need to be per year, just for a 2nd 'fridge.
Depending on your 'fridge, electricity prices, rotation of the earth, etc.

That’s even better than the one my Ma has in her basement. It’s a Whirlpool my parents bought new in 1966. It has never been unplugged nor repaired. It’s been sitting behind the bar in the same location as it was delivered to.

My wife and I bought a Frigidaire once that went to shit in 3 years. Go figure!:smack:

Indeed, there are stores that sell nothing but antique appliances. Could be worth a pretty penny to the right person.