A friend recently mentioned that appliances seemed to be dying prematurely for his neighbors and wondered if his were next. He bought new construction about five years ago and knew of multiple neighbors replacing their hot water heater or microwave.
I thought five years seemed about right for the microwave but agreed the hot water heater should have lasted longer. The conversation had me wondering what is the normal life span for household appliances we consider necessities.
Factors in Appliance Life
The amount of use is going to impact how long the appliance lasts. A large family is going to have more wear and tear on the clothes washer and dryer or the dishwasher than a single person or couple. Of course, wear and tear can be mitigated by repair or replacement of damaged parts and much of this repair is within the purview of the homeowner.
Numerous sources are available for replacement parts. For example, GE Parts can be purchased by the consumer directly from General Electric’s corporate site or from third party retailers like Partselect.com. One of the advantages of using a third party online retailer is that they can often provide tutorial videos and help lines.
Its important to take care of your appliances to extend their useful life. For a refrigerator this means cleaning the coils and gaskets regularly. That microwave needs the filters in the vent hood cleaned monthly. Charcoal filters need to be replaced every 6-12 months.
Sometimes it is worth paying more for a product with a longer warranty. Installing a water heater can cost several hundred dollars. Consider the installation costs when comparing water heaters that range from a 6 year to 12 year warranty period.
With new construction, the builder might have purchased low end appliances with shorter useful life warranties and projections.
Appliance Life Expectancy
The important thing to remember about stated appliance useful life is that it is an average. You might have the bad luck to be on the low end. If you’re not willing to take the chance, that’s why they offer extended warranties (although I don’t recommend them in general).
According to Mr. Appliance, the life span of the microwave oven is 5-10 years with an average of 8 years. The gas water heater can live 5-13 years with an average of 9 years of use. My friend’s neighbors ended up with the short end of the life spans.
The conversation spurred me to evaluate the age of our appliances. We’ve replaced all of them since moving in four years ago with one exception. The water heater is at the average life span. Let’s hope it’s a couple of years before I write about replacing it. . How do you extend the life of appliances?