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Explainer Refrigerators

​How to get an estimate for repairing your refrigerator

Is your refrigerator having problems? Time to call out a repair person. Before you do that, here are a few tips to make it cheaper and easier for everyone.

Martin LaMonica/CNET

Has your refrigerator stopped refrigerating? Is the water dispenser no longer dispensing? Are your ice cubes turning into icebergs? Time to call in a repair person. These can get expensive, but a few simple tricks can make the experience cheaper, easier and more chill for all.

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Check the warranty

Firstly, check if your refrigerator is still covered under the manufacturer's warranty. Many manufacturers offer warranties that run for longer than you might think, or you may have purchased an extended warranty and forgotten about it. Either way, a quick call to the place you bought it from should be the first thing you do.

Check for recalls or lemons

Sometimes, companies recall products because they have a design or manufacturing flaw, so before you consider paying someone to repair your refrigerator, google the product name and search on the Consumer Product Safety Commission recall site or the to see if a recall has been issued. If one has, the recall will contain details of how to get the problem fixed or the refrigerator replaced. You should also check the FAQ on the manufacturer site to see if there are any reported problems.

Write a description of the problem

If you are sure that you can't get someone else to pay and fix the problem, it's time to call in the experts. First, however, write out a description of the problem that includes the following:

  • How long the problem has been going on
  • Where the problem is in the refrigerator
  • When the problem occurs
  • What the problem is
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Chris Monroe/CNET

Get three quotes: The retailer, another dealer and an independent repair shop

Once you have your written description of the problem, send it to three companies for quotes. We recommend that you start with the repair department of the retailer you bought it from, another dealer's repair department and an independent repair professional. These three will give you access to a range of quotes from people who have access to different sources for parts and approaches to labor. Places like Angie's List and Home Advisor are good for finding local companies, as they include ratings and reviews that help you judge how their work is likely to turn out.

Understand what the quotes cover

Most of the quotes you get will include a standard service fee, plus the cost of parts and additional labor. It is common practice for the standard service fee to include the first hour of labor, and most repair professionals can handle all but the most complex repairs within an hour. However, make sure you know how you are charged if it takes longer, or if the repair involves more than one visit. If the repair is likely to require parts, make sure that the cost of these is quoted, and that the price is comparable to buying the parts yourself.

Pick a quote

Once you have the three quotes, compare them side by side. Make sure that you understand what the quote does (and doesn't) cover. Some companies may offer a quote that doesn't include parts, even if they know they are needed. Others may bill for travel beyond a certain distance, or charge extra for an appointment in the evening or on a weekend. Either way, don't go with the cheapest quote: go with the cheapest one that covers and includes everything the job will likely include.