The Life Expectancy of 7 Major Appliances

October 21, 2013 : Taryn Fiol - Guest Contributor

Editor’s Note: When planning your yearly budget do you take into account possibly having to replace one of those major appliances? It can be tough to know when to plan for that, but Taryn Fiol from Apartment Therapy is here to help spell out how long appliances last.

Whether shopping for a new appliance or just trying to make an old one keep ticking, the only question on your mind is “How long is this thing supposed to last?” Knowing the average life of an appliance can help you figure out if splurging on a top-of-the-line range is worth the added cost, or help you make an easy decision when it comes time to determine whether to repair or replace an aging water heater.

Read over these average useful lives of big-ticket home appliances, then compare them with the ages of the equipment around your own home. But don’t fret: If anything in the house is near the end of its life, there are still some things you can do to squeeze out extra time and avoid a costly replacement.

Dishwasher, 9 years:

Newer and more expensive models don’t necessarily have longer lives. The more extra features a dishwasher has, like an electronic readout, the more things can potentially break. But staying on top of maintenance (like cleaning the filter) and small repairs will prevent bigger problems down the road.

Garbage Disposal, 10-12 years:

The biggest thing that affects a disposal’s life span is how often it’s used. A large family that cooks at home will need to replace the garbage disposal sooner than a bachelor who eats out. Small efforts, like using a strainer and always running water when operating the disposal, will pay off with a long life.  

Range or Stove, 13-15 years:

Gas stoves last longer than their electric counterparts by 2-5 years, on average. Good everyday care will help extend the useful life, such as cleaning the stove after every use and regularly checking the burners.

Refrigerator, 13-19 years:

The top end of this life expectancy range belongs exclusively to increasingly rare single-door refrigerator units. More common freezer-top and side-by-side models can last 17 and 14 years, respectively.  Small repairs to things like failed door gaskets or malfunctioning ice makers are expected, but a broken compressor usually signals the end for a fridge.

Washer, 10-14 years, and Dryer, 10-13 years:

The life of a laundry machine is completely dependent on how often it’s run. A family average of eight loads a week will yield an average of a (low) double-digit life. And type doesn’t have a huge effect –front-loaders and top-loaders both have their own problems. Front loaders can develop leaky door gaskets and top-loaders sometimes have problems with humidity and rust.

Central Air Conditioning and Heat Pumps, 15-20 years:

Newer systems have an advantage with longer lives, thanks to improvements in technology. Maintenance is key, no matter the age of the A/C; periodically changing air filters and thermostat batteries ensures efficient use. And an annual check-up with an HVAC pro will pay off by adding years to the end of the air conditioner’s life.

Water Heater, 10-25+ years:

This one really depends on the type of heater. Super-efficient tankless water heaters can last for more than two decades, but traditional electric or gas heaters die out closer to the 10-year mark. Lifespan here is partially influenced by the water source. Untreated hard water is heavy with calcium, lime or other mineral deposits that can build up inside a tank and decrease the heater’s efficiency over time. Same goes for heaters that source spring or well water, which can stir up damaging sediment, sand and mud.

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Taryn Fiol - Guest Contributor

Taryn is a home and technology writer for Apartment Therapy and editor of lifestyle blog Formal Fringe.