How to Buy a Used Refrigerator

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Buying used appliances, such as a refrigerator or a stove, is a practical way to save money. However, buying a used unit that does not function properly can be frustrating and discouraging. The buyer may feel cheated and defrauded. Fortunately, you can take precautions to minimize the risk. If you plan to buy a used refrigerator from a private owner, you will find the following tips helpful.

1. Ask specific questions. Find out whether the refrigerator cools and freezes as it should. Sellers often make the statement: “It runs great!”  Although it may be true that the motor works because you can hear it run, it does not necessarily mean that it cools and freezes effectively. Test the various settings to make sure that is is fully functional. 

2. Ask the owner to plug in the refrigerator prior to you viewing it. Private owners will often place a used refrigerator in the garage after replacing/upgrading it. Even newer model refrigerators can go bad, so don’t let a good cosmetic condition fool you.  The only way you can verify that it works properly is by plugging it in ahead of time.

3. Look behind the seals. If the fridge has been in the garage for a while, crumbs of food behind the seals can attract roaches, so check behind the seals and make sure that it is roach-free. 

4. Make sure that the seals seal properly. Place a piece of paper between the refrigerator and the door. If the paper slides down on its own or you can pull it out without effort, there are sealing issues. If the door does not seal properly when you close the door, your fridge will run a lot more and could increase your electric bill. Additionally, your food could spoil if the refrigerator does not maintain the proper temperature. 

5. Examine the cooling coils. Depending on the model, the coils are located in the bottom or the back of the fridge. Dirty coils are a sign of poor maintenance and could result in excessive strain on the motor.

6. Look for signs of dishonesty. Take note of the seller’s reactions and body language as you ask questions about the used refrigerator. If the seller avoids answering your questions or stammers around searching for answers, you might want to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, some sellers will tell you what you want to hear so you can buy the unit. Since private owners will generally sell the item “as is,” once you take it home, it’s your loss if it doesn’t work. 

Although buying a gently used refrigerator will generally help you save money, it is important to take precautions such as the ones outlined above. If you do, buying a used refrigerator will likely result in a positive experience for you.


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