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Second Hand Refrigerators - Used and Refurbished Fridges For Sale

Updated on February 24, 2012

There are many reasons why someone might choose to buy a second hand fridge rather than paying full price for a brand new one. Often it is a matter of financial means, as a new refrigerator is not an inexpensive purchase especially when your old one dies leaving you in a sudden crisis.  

A new full sized refrigerator is going to cost a minimum of $400 for a low end model if you can find a good deal and in excess of $1000 for larger and better quality refrigerators which is no small hit to the average family budget. By contrast, used fridges are often offered at discounts of 70% or higher because people need to get them out of their homes in a hurry. You can find a barely used refrigerator for sale by owner at far less than you will ever find in a store and if you shop smart, you’ll be getting a machine which is just as good as buying it new.

There are some things to consider though when buying a second hand refrigerator which you do need to look out for to prevent yourself from getting more trouble than you bargained for. The price tag will always be appealing but make sure you get the best value for your money and not a kitchen appliance which will itself need replacing soon.

What To Look For In A Used Refrigerator

Buying anything used comes with its own specific set of challenges. When buying a second hand fridge or used fridge freezer combination, you need to be aware of several things before you make your buying choice. Before you even visit it’s probably worth asking as few questions over the phone to decide whether you want to take the trip.

Firstly, you want to be looking for a newish fridge rather than something which has been working its guts out in someone’s home for the last ten years or more. New fridges are more energy efficient and will cost you a lot less to run than an older model, as well as having newer components which are less likely to be worn out over time. Ask the seller when the fridge was bought and whether it was new when they bought it.

Also ask whether it has any current issues which are leading them to sell it and for that matter, why are they selling it. Most people are honest when asked questions directly so don’t feel you need to hold back, after all, it’s your money we’re talking about!

When you get to view the fridge ask for it to be running when you arrive. You want to see and second hand refrigerator in action to see how well it works. You want to listen to the motor running to hear if there are any weird noises. You also want to feel how cold it is inside and whether there seems to be any issues with the general operation.

Check the doors to make sure they are hanging level, if not then they might not seal well. Be sure to check the seals as well. There’s a good trick you can use here called the dollar bill test. Take a dollar bill (or higher) and close it in the door so the seals grab it. Then try to pull it out. A fridge which seals well will grab and hold on tight to the bill, if it slides out, then there is a problem and you’ll probably have to have those fridge door seals replaced if you choose to buy it.

Look for weird fridge smells. One of the things which are really hard to get out of a fridge once they are settled in are strange odors. If the fridge smells bad, don’t think you can fix it easily and even if you can to your own satisfaction, it doesn’t mean that the kind of bugs which are attracted to bad food smells can’t smells it as their sense of smell is thousands of times better than ours so you might be buying more trouble than it is worth. Bad fridge odors are a sign that the fridge may have been switched off, died at some point and been repaired or just stored badly, three things which should wave some big warning signs.

Other Things To Think About

If you buy used then there is one big thing to think about – how are you going to get it home? Fridges are large, bulky and very heavy and if the seller can’t deliver it then you are going to have to find your own way to transport it.

You will also have to carry it in and install it, which may mean some light plumbing if your fridge has a water filter attachment.

There is also the matter of warrantee. If you buy a used refrigerator you will be unlikely to get any kind of warrantee so you have to make sure to check your purchase thoroughly before buying it. If you ask, some sellers might be prepared to give you a written agreement they will take it back if it fails within a few days after purchase but that’s not the norm.

Where To Buy a Used Refrigerator

Second hand fridges for sale by owner are easy to find in local newspaper ads and shop window advertisements, but you will also be able to find them in free ad sites online like Craigslist or at auction sites like eBay. You may even get lucky and find one for free at a site like if someone just wants rid of it quickly.

If you do decide to buy online from a site like eBay then be sure to ask lots of questions as you will likely be buying it sight unseen and expect to pay delivery charges too unless you can find one locally for pick up.

Why Do People Sell Their Used Refrigerators

Just as there are many reasons why people would choose to buy a second hand fridge freezer there are just as many reasons why people sell theirs.

The cynical among us would say someone would only sell their refrigerator when it started ‘playing up’ or performing poorly in some way. Whilst this is undoubtedly true in some cases, the majority of people selling products do not want to sell you a heap of trouble because they themselves do not want to deal with the fallout from doing so.

The majority of used fridges for sale are offed by people who find they need to sell their fridge for one reason or another, not because it is malfunctioning. The owner may be downsizing their home and moving to somewhere like an apartment where the fridge is too large to fit. They might be going through a relationship split and selling jointly owned assets. Their family size may have just outgrown their current fridge so they need to sell to buy a larger model. Or they may just be moving house and would rather buy new than have to lug them from one state to another.

The reasons are varied but many of them are to your advantage as many of the used fridges offered for sale by owner may only be a year or two old but still offered at a big discount as people just want them off their hands, and often there is a limited amount of time for them to do so.

What Are The Alternative To Buying Used

If a second hand refrigerator still doesn’t sound like it is worth the risk to you, then there are alternatives.

One such alternative is to look at scratch and dent refrigerators instead. If you happen to have a retail store outlet nearby like a Sears outlet, then you might be able to find some pretty good discounts on the price of an otherwise brand new fridge, just because it has a little ding here or a scratch there. Often, these minor scratches and dents are in places you will not able to see anyway once it is put in place in your kitchen so basically, they give you a big discount for taking something they can’t sell in their stores which for all intents and purposes is a brand new machine.

Another alternative is to consider remanufactured or refurbished refrigerators instead. These are often customer returns which have been repaired and tested ready for resale. The advantage of buying either a scratch and dent refrigerator or a reconditioned or refurbished fridge is that you will at least get some kind of warrantee with this choice which you are unlikely to receive from a private seller. You will also be able to have it delivered and possibly installed too which again, is unlikely from a private seller.


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