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Home Appliances and Systems
05.14.2021

Cheat Sheet: How Long Should Home Appliances and Systems Last?

Buying

I’ve been in my house for 8 years now.  This week, we had to replace our dishwasher – and it got me wondering: What’s next?

We replaced all the appliances and mechanical things when we moved in.  How long will it be before we start having to swap out other appliances?

When buying a house, there are so many necessities to think about.  Furniture, appliances, yard maintenance tools, and more – all these items can require a sizeable budget.

As a buyer, the only promise you get in a typical Agreement of Purchase and Sale is that everything in the house will be in working order on the day of closing.  If anything breaks down after that, you have to figure out a solution at your own cost.

Since nothing lasts forever, it goes without saying that it’s a good idea to make sure you don’t spend every penny on your down payment.  Keeping a separate slush fund for unexpected things is wise.  However, a little foreknowledge can help you to anticipate future expenses.

Everything has a lifespan – even the house itself.  With regular updates and maintenance, including replacement parts, most things can last longer than average.  Becoming familiar with the life expectancy of the replaceable components of your home is a good step in your budgeting process.  It can even help you to figure out how much to offer in the first place, since you can predict which items will need to be repaired or replaced soon after you take possession.

*For the purpose of this article, we will assume that replacement is needed.  A good technician can often help you decide whether replacement parts and/or repair is possible.

 

Here’s a cheat sheet you can use for reference:

 

FURNACE: 

It’s Canada, so heat is non-negotiable.  The most common type of furnace you’ll find in Hamilton, Burlington, and Niagara is a natural gas furnace.  You can expect your gas furnace to last an average of 17 years.  Some can live almost twice that long, but that should be considered a bonus.  Start saving toward a replacement furnace before year 15, and you should have no major surprises.  When buying a house, if the furnace is nearing the end of its useful life, assume that you’ll need to have $4000-5000 to replace it.

 

CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONER:

We have a relatively short AC season here in Ontario!  Still, a central AC unit has a typical life expectancy of about 10-15 years.  As with everything, regular maintenance can extend its lifespan.  Short though it may be, our summer can be uncomfortably hot and sticky – so at or before the 10 year mark, start preparing for the $2800-5000 replacement cost.

*Some companies offer a discount for replacing both furnace and AC at the same time.  There are also some government energy rebates that could come in handy!

 

HOT WATER TANK:

Another can’t-live-without-it item.  These typically work for about 10 years, but can last longer depending on a multitude of factors.  A tankless water heating system is likely to last much longer – 18-20 years.

To buy a replacement water tank, expect about $1100-1600 (installed).  However, this is an appliance that is commonly rented for $15-30 per month.  Considering the cost of repairing the damage that a burst or leaking tank could do…this is a tiny expense!

It’s no surprise that a tankless system will set you back a bit more.  We found a special price offering at $2399 or a rental for $39/month.

 

REFRIGERATOR:

A full-sized fridge should last 14 years, according to experts.  In our experience, 10 years is a good run.  With so many options to choose from, we won’t even offer a replacement budget.  I mean, does anyone really need a fridge with more bandwidth than your laptop? Not that we’re judging; food is important, of course!

 

STOVE & RANGE HOOD:

You either love a gas range or it terrifies you.  I don’t believe there is an in-between.

A gas stove should serve you well for 19 or 20 years.  An electric one may quit a little earlier, 16 years or so.  This is one hardworking appliance that really earns its keep!  And a range hood will last between 14 and 19 years.  Again, there are too many options to suggest a budget – you’ll have to shop around.

 

MICROWAVE:

Your microwave, on the other hand, is a more delicate appliance.  Expect to replace it after 7 years with regular use.  This can be a bit of a pain with the ones that double as exhaust fans – over the stovetop.  But what would we do without our ability to zap leftovers??  You can replace an over-the-range microwave for $1200 or less.

 

DISHWASHER:

The closest thing some of us can hope to have to a kitchen helper or maid, this one is non-negotiable in my kitchen!  Fragile, yes – and finicky a lot of the time – but it can last between 9 and 16 years.  Apparently, I was too hard on mine.  *Sorry!*

There are plenty of built-in dishwashers for under $1000.

 

WASHER/DRYER

Unless you live by the river and are willing to beat your clothes against a rock, a washing machine is an absolute necessity!  It’s a workhorse, too, in most families – and you’ll probably need a minor repair or two along the way.

Having said that, you can expect a set – washer and dryer – to last between 8 and 12 years.  Keep hoses, lint traps, and vents clean to extend the life of this pair that will cost $1500 or more to replace.

 

POOL PUMP

Your pool pump will keep your backyard recreation from turning into a science experiment when it’s working well.

With proper maintenance and care, it will last from 8-15 years and cost about $800 to replace.

 

A Note For Sellers

You know your home and all its parts better than anyone.  You also know how careful you’ve been to maintain each appliance.  A buyer, though, has little more than the age of the appliances to go by when figuring out a budget.

Even if you would bet the farm that your 22-year-old furnace will go another 5 years, most homebuyers need to assume that it will need immediate replacement.  When negotiating your sale price, remember that buyers are calculating future expenses and replacement costs.  The older the appliances are, the more money a buyer needs to keep in their reserve fund for immediate replacement.

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