Save Money by Knowing the Life Expectancy of Your Home Systems and Components Save Money by Knowing the Life Expectancy of Your Home Systems and Components

Cristina Zaharia
Things wear out and break. When they do – and it’s unexpected, the consequences can be costly and stressful. One way to stay on top of your preventative maintenance is to know when your items are nearing the end of their useful life. There are many factors that will impact the life expectancy of the systems, appliances and items in your home.
They include:

  • the quality of original installation and workmanship
  • maintenance frequency
  • weather and climate conditions
  • the intensity of use

    New Research Released

    According to a study released in February 2007 by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “The average life expectancy for some components has increased during the past 35 years because of new products and the introduction of new technologies, while the average life of others has declined.”

    Their study was conducted in 2006 and included a comprehensive telephone survey of manufacturers, trade associations and researchers to develop information about the longevity of housing components.

    Of particular importance were the comments made by many of those surveyed. According to the NAHB report, “Many of the people interviewed emphasized that the life expectancy of housing components is greatly affected by the quality of maintenance.”

    The Homeminders inventory and reminder system provides timely reminders to help you check and then – repair, replace or maintain as necessary. Sometimes you'll find normal wear and tear that simply needs to be maintained - pipes, fittings, hoses, and filters. Other times, you'll note that an entire system is aging. It is often helpful to note the age of an item to determine if it is nearing its useful life. Homeminders provides the following summary details from the NAHB report and links to the full report as reference for you to help determine if it’s time to replace an item.

    When to Replace - Sooner is Better!

    As you review the list, note that there are several factors to consider when determining if it is time to replace a system or item:
    1. Technology has often improved and you may benefit from greater comfort or safety, save money, and receive increased conservation efficiencies by replacing an item - now.
    2. Discounts or credits may be available from government municipalities or utility companies for installing more energy efficient systems.
    3. Failure to replace an item may cause an injury or damage to property. While insurance may cover the “cost” of repairing damage, the combination of personal deductibles, inconveniences of moving out or living through repairs/construction, and potentially losing irreplaceable items (photographs, records, mementos etc) often make “early” replacement a smart decision.

    Homeminders keeps track of your items and systems and notifies you when to check them and how close they are to the end of their life expectancy. It’s simple to sign up and get started.

    The following list is an excerpt from the 2007 NAHB report on Life Expectancy of Home Components. Read the entire report.

    The life expectancy of a typical appliance depends to a great extent on the use it receives.
    Moreover, appliances are often replaced long before they are worn out because changes in styling, technology and consumer preferences make newer products more desirable. Of the major appliances in a home, gas ranges have the longest life expectancy: 15 years. Dryers and refrigerators last about 13 years. Some of the appliances with the shortest lifespan are: compactors (6 years), dishwashers (9 years) and microwave ovens (9 years).

    All natural wood floorings have a life expectancy of 100 years or more. Marble, slate, and granite are also expected to last for about 100 years, but can last less due to a lack of maintenance. Vinyl floors last up to 50 years, linoleum about 25 years, and carpet between 8 and 10 years (with appropriate maintenance and normal traffic).

    Footings and Foundations
    Poured as well as concrete block footings and foundations last a lifetime, assuming they were properly built. Termite proofing of foundations will last about 12 years if the chemical barriers put in place during construction are left intact. Waterproofing with bituminous coating lasts 10 years, but if it cracks it is immediately damaged. Concrete or cast iron waste pipes are expected to last 100 years or more.

    Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
    Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems require proper and regular maintenance in order to work efficiently, but even in the best case scenarios most components of such systems only last 15 to 25 years. Furnaces on average last 15-20 years, heat pumps 16 years, and air conditioning units 10-15 years. Tankless water heaters last more than 20 years, while an electric or gas water heater has a life expectancy of about 10 years. Thermostats usually are replaced before the end of their 35-year lifespan due to technological improvements.

    The life of a roof depends on local weather conditions, proper building and design, material quality, and adequate maintenance. Slate, copper, and clay/concrete roofs have the longest life expectancy – over 50 years. Roofs made of asphalt shingles last for about 20 years while roofs made of fiber cement shingles have a life expectancy of about 25 years, and roofs made of wood shakes can be expected to last for about 30 years.

    Siding and Accessories
    Outside materials typically last a lifetime. Brick, vinyl, engineered wood, stone (both natural and manufactured), and fiber cement will last as long the house exists. Exterior wood shutters are expected to last 20 years, depending on weather conditions. Gutters have a life expectancy of more than 50 years if made of copper and for 20 years if made of aluminum. Copper downspouts last 100 years or more, while aluminum ones will last 30 years.

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