When (and How) to Replace Your Refrigerator

(Family Features) Unless the refrigerator stops running, you might not know if it's time to replace it. A simple clue - if your refrigerator's color has 'harvest' or 'avocado' in its name, you're probably overdue for a new one.

But aside from that, how do you know if it's time? Here are some common issues to keep an eye out for:

  • Moisture - Condensation on the inside of the door frame or around the door means it is no longer airtight.
  • Outside heat - If the exterior walls feel warm, or the back coils seem to be hot, you need a new refrigerator.
  • Motor running - Does the motor seems to be running all the time, or running more than usual? That could be a signal to replace your refrigerator.
  • High utility bills - Not all refrigerators that need replacing have a mechanical problem. The U.S. Energy Star program says units made before 1993 use twice as much energy as newer models that are Energy Star certified.

Choosing a new refrigerator

When you're looking for a new unit, Kenmore Genius and mommy blogger Amy Clark says to think about it like shopping for diamonds, with a new approach to the well-known four Cs of shopping for diamonds. The four Cs in refrigeration are capacity, convenience, consumption and color.

Capacity: Is bigger better? When it comes to storing all of your home's groceries, yes. Check the "cubic-foot capacity" which is the height, length and width of every part of a refrigerator. The higher the capacity, the more space you have. The Kenmore Elite Signature, for example, boasts 31-cubic-foot capacity - that's enough to hold 486 soda cans. So you should have plenty of room for all your refrigeration needs.

Convenience: Are you a master of food origami to make it all fit? What you should consider:

  • Bottom freezer units typically have more space for fresh foods than other configurations, but the freezer tends to be smaller. Refrigerators with top freezer configuration are typically more affordable and make it easy to find what you're looking for.
  • Side-by-side refrigerators have large freezer spaces and make it easier to find frozen items, while the narrower shelves limit the size of items for storing.
  • French door refrigerators have two doors for the refrigerator compartment with a freezer below. These can easily store larger items like party trays, and pull-out freezer drawers often feature two levels of storage.

Consumption: As refrigerators always run, they often use more energy than other appliances. Energy Star says top-mounted freezers use 10 to 25 percent less energy than other freezer models. French door refrigerators tend to be more energy efficient because you can open a single door as needed instead of an entire compartment. Clark says to keep in mind that the larger the refrigerator, the more energy it will use.

Color: Today's typical appliance colors make it easy to choose one you won't regret in a few years. Clark has some tips based on Kenmore's available colors:

  • White is often the most affordable choice.
  • Black is also very affordable, but not for every kitchen design.
  • Stainless steel is sleek and timeless, but shows fingerprints and does not accept magnets.
  • Metallic finishes show fewer fingerprints. They cost less than stainless steel - and you can use all the magnets you want.

To learn more, use the "Help Me Choose" tool to pick just the right refrigerator at www.kenmore.com.