There comes a time in any man or woman’s life that truly tests their character, the grit of their determination, and sometimes…their sanity. I’m talking about when the refrigerator breaks at 3am, of course, which is what happened to a friend of mine recently. The filter to the ice maker clogged and then froze solid and then broke, leaving water streaming out of the back of the fridge. Well you can imagine the great flood he witnessed by the time he came downstairs at 6am to get ready to work, finding 6 inches of water covering his entire first floor where his nice hardwood used to be and water streaming out of the front door toward the street.
I tell you this homeowner horror not so you’re scared every time you walk downstairs or hear the name “Noah,” but because it’s important we understand the components that make up our homes and how long they last. Knowing the general lifetime of appliances and building materials can help you anticipate costs, do preventive maintenance, and possibly save yourself thousands of dollars in nightmarish repairs.
Lucky for us, the National Association of Home Builders did a comprehensive survey a few years back, polling manufacturers, trade associations and researchers about the life spans of appliances and components of our homes. They findings were released in a report called “The Life Expectancy of Home Components” and since then, there have been several other studies to add to their body of work.
How long will your refrigerator, your roof, or your icemaker last? No one can guess for sure, but when you’re buying a home, it’s a good idea to look at the existing components knowing the average life expectancy for each item so you can plan and prepare.
Slate, copper and tile roofs can last more than 50 years.
Wood shake roofs should expect them to last about 30 years. (Wood shake was most popular in the 1980s, which means they are all about due to be replaced.)
Fiber cement shingles last about 25 years.
Asphalt shingle/composition roofs last about 20 years. (Environmental factors like heat, wind, and the amount of rainfall factor in, and in Sacramento, it’s not uncommon for comp shingle roofs to last 30 years.)
A standard deck with pressure treated wood can last 20 years, but they often go 25-30 years if the deck received regular maintenance that includes power washing and treating with a new stain or paint. Of course decks last longer if they receive less rainfall, less than full exposure to damaging sun, and kept clean.
Exterior doors are made of fiberglass, steel, or heavy wood and usually will last multiple decades or as long as the house. Closet and interior doors should last just as long, though vinyl doors tend to warp after 20 years and screen doors will start ripping in that time.
Wood floors should last 100 years or more (unless flooded!) and marble and slate floors will do the same if they are maintained.
Tile floors last 75-100 years (the grout will dry out, crack, and start coming up long before that).
Linoleum floors start wearing out after 20 years, vinyl after 50, and laminate floors 15-25 years.
A high-grade carpet will last 8-10 years, but wear and tear (or stains) usually takes it out of commission before that.
Aluminum gutters last about 20 years, though they may need to be re-sealed and reinforced as they hang to prolong their use. Copper gutters last 50 years or more.
Wood windows last 30-50 years or more, but need regular maintenance.
Aluminum windows last 15-20 years before they warp or fail. Vinyl will last longer, but you have to be careful the vacuum seals don’t go out (which is why you see moisture and condensation inside the panes.)
Air conditioning systems:
Average life expectancy 10-15 years. Regular maintenance, cleaning filters every year, and cutting back brush or debris that may get in the system will help. This is a big-ticket item so it’s definitely important to put in TLC on a regular basis.
A conventional electric or gas water heater usually lasts about 10 years. If you have a tank-less water heater, it will probably last closer to 20 years.
A furnace should operate for 15 to 20 years.
Refrigerators last six to 15 years, with some estimates showing the newer models should last an average of 13.
Electric stove ranges function fine for 10 to 15 years.
Gas ranges tend to last a little longer, probably for 15 years.
Trash compactor, 6 years.
Microwave, 9 years.
Garbage disposal 12 years
Washers and dryers last 8 to 12 years. It’s common that a few specific parts go out first, so it usually makes sense to try and repair them instead of replacing them immediately.
Dishwashers last 8 to 10 years, with an average of 9.
Faucets for kitchen or bathrooms last 15 years on average.
Enamel sinks usually go for 5-10 years before cracking or losing their seal.
TV’s will last for 10-20 years, but on average we replace them every 4 years or less because we want bigger, sharper, or new technology.