Jeff Flowers on May 18, 2015 17 Comments Though it has its downsides and is not necessarily advisable, sometimes purchasing a used kitchen appliance is all our budget allows for. Purchasing a used fridge can be an effective way to obtain one of the most necessary kitchen appliances, and it can also keep more of your hard-earned cash in your wallet. Pre-owned refrigerators often cost less than half the price of new models. The trick is to look for fridges that are being sold for reasons other than functionality. Find the perfect icebox for your purposes by following these eight tips: 1. Measure Your Space Just as you would with any new appliance or piece of furniture, it is important to make sure it will fit before you spend the money on it. Before you search for your new used fridge, measure the length, width and depth of the area where your new unit will stand. This is especially crucial when buying a used item, because they are usually not returnable. In order for this fridge to work properly, there should be a one-inch clearance on each side and on top. 2. Determine Your Price Range Used refrigerators come in a wide variety of price ranges, depending on the age, make and model. What can you comfortably afford? Set a range and only look at models with price tags within those numbers. You can spend anywhere from as low as $75 to $750 and beyond; it all depends on what you’re looking for. A ten-year-old beige fridge will definitely cost a fraction of what a one-year old stainless steel model will set you back. 3. Research Models Before you buy, do a bit of online research via websites or magazines that review appliances. Certain manufacturers produce more reliable goods than others, so check out what sort of repairs, operating costs, and experiences owners and experts report about different refrigerators. This is a case when brand name reputation does matter. Some of our favorite brands are EdgeStar, Bosch, Summit and Danby. 4. Locate the Possibilities Used refrigerators are everywhere, once you start looking. Some of the possible spots to locate them include: Your local newspaper’s classified ad “For Sale” section Online sites where private sellers post their items for sale (eBay, CraigsList) Garage and moving sales On the curb with a paper “Free!” sign taped to it (don’t overlook these diamonds-in-the-rough!) Used appliance stores Thrift shops Flea markets A friend, family member, or neighbor you know is moving or remodeling their kitchen Stores that sell scratch-and-dent or refurbished models along with new appliances Once you find the refrigerator that meets your size, price, and model specs, it’s time to contact the seller. 5. Ask Questions Have a list of questions ready to ask the seller about the used fridge that he or she is selling. You should be able to get a feel for whether the appliance is a fit for your needs. Some questions should be asked by phone, text message, or email before scheduling your appointment to see the fridge in person. Consider asking: Why are you selling it? The answer to this question will tell you plenty. If they are simply moving to a place that comes equipped with a refrigerator or are remodeling their kitchen and are choosing to recycle their old unit, the item could be a top-quality find. Is there anything wrong with it? Most people will be honest about any imperfections or problems, and then you can decide whether it’s something you can live with or fix. Are you the original owner? A one-owner appliance is as desirable as a one-owner car, in that this person knows all about its history. Plus, if a person owned something for a length of time, chances are it wasn’t a lemon. What does is look like? Hopefully, the ad where you spotted a potential refrigerator has posted a photo of it, inside and out. If not, ask about color, condition, shelves, and storage bins, in order to assess whether it will meet your needs. Does it have all its parts? Make sure everything is included such as shelves, containers, and door handles, or research whether you can easily replace them. 6. Inspect the Unit When you’ve narrowed your search down to a few units, it’s time to visit each one in person. Be prepared to perform a thorough inspection, and if you can bring a friend or relative with you for a second opinion, all the better. Here are some things to look for: Age: A fridge that has been around for more than a decade is probably too old. While appliances of the past are known for their quality craftsmanship, they aren’t as energy efficient as you’d like them to be. Even a very low-cost item could turn out to be expensive in terms of utility bills. Coldness: If possible, check the internal temperature of both the freezer and the fridge. In order to keep food from spoiling, these temps should be 0°F and 38°F, respectively. Smell: Once a repugnant odor becomes imbedded in an appliance, it’s exceedingly difficult to get rid of the smell, so take a good whiff before you buy. Door Seal: To test for a tight seal, insert a piece of paper between the closed door and the unit. There should be resistance as you attempt to remove the paper. If not, check to see if the problem can be remedied by tightening the hinges, or move on. 7. Overcome Obstacles There are certain obstacles you might come across, but you can overcome them if you find an otherwise perfectly good used fridge. Don’t let these minor details deter you from buying the unit. For example: Color: If you don’t like the harvest-gold color of an otherwise great appliance, a can of spray paint can easily turn it white or black. Direction of Door Opening: If the door opens to the wrong direction for your home’s layout, it can probably be easily adjusted to swing the other way. Price: Don’t forget, you can always negotiate the price. If any unit that you are interested in is over your price limit, you can inquire on the phone about whether the price-tag is firm or flexible. 8. Transport the “New” Old Fridge Congratulations, you’ve found your fridge and it’s time to move it to your house! A word of caution, however, is to keep your appliance in the vertical position during the trip home, as the horizontal position can ruin the compressor. Finding the best refrigerator for you is a snap when you follow these guidelines. When you find the right appliance, it can transform your kitchen–might as well save a few bucks where you can!