How Long Do Home Systems and Appliances Last? A Homeowner’s Guide on the Average Life Expectancy of Major Appliances

How Long Do Home Systems and Appliances Last? A Homeowner’s Guide on the Average Life Expectancy of Major Appliances

Every homeowner is faced with a huge truth: their home’s systems and appliances don’t last forever. Every major appliance has an average life expectancy, although it depends greatly on its usage and maintenance. And with many of us spending more time at home in recent years due to the pandemic, extra use may shorten their lifespan even more. Once their parts stop working, they’re bound to require some costly repairs and replacements, which could be agonizing to any homeowner.

Contractors and builders calculate an average lifespan for each appliance, based on experiences on when systems and appliances failed in the past. The majority of the data included here is from the Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components by the National Association of Home Builders. They provide a decent guesstimate by compiling life-cycle data from scores of product manufacturers and testing labs.

However, it’s important to note that the lifespans for most major appliances have decreased significantly over the last few years, mainly because of the complexity of many smart models. Also, many appliances are often replaced long before they are worn out by newer products that are more desirable in terms of style and technology.

Knowing the age of your household systems and appliances, along with their expected life spans, is an excellent way for you to plan for routine maintenance and prepare against hefty replacement bills that could make a huge dent in your budget. 

For home buyers, it’s also a good idea to factor the age of appliances and home systems into your decision making. Outdated appliances are very costly to deal with, the last thing you’d want is to be stuck with an expensive appliance repair or system replacement bill after you complete the sale and just moved in.

 

Ranges, whether gas or electric, are generally one of the more durable appliances in your kitchen, which is why these can last somewhere around 13 to 15 years. It’s often the body or the electric control unit that goes bad before the cooking units. Or the style becomes dated, triggering the desire for a new appliance.

Although these appliances are being used often in preparing delicious meals, therefore subjected to a lot of heat and grease, many homeowners still forget to do regular maintenance on them. This could lead to more expenses and fire hazards when they only have simple maintenance schedules.

Tips to make it last longer: 

  • Regularly clean the stovetop and grates using a mild soap/detergent, warm water, and sponge. Avoid using abrasives and inserting sharp objects.

  • Clean the oven once or twice a year. Just be careful when cleaning underneath oven knobs by removing the knobs first.


Your refrigerator is one of the most expensive but hardest working appliances in your home. And even though they constantly operate for 24 hours a day, they can still be expected to run for 10 to 15 years or more, depending on type and brand. Compact fridges have a relatively shorter lifespan, averaging for only 8 years. Freezers, on the other hand, will last anywhere from 12 to 20 years.

Tips to make it last longer: 

  • Clean your refrigerator’s condenser coils and check the door seals regularly.

  • Wipe down handles and dispenser controls daily to remove bacteria. 

  • Provide enough space for proper airflow and to avoid overworking the appliance.


Due to its intense work of grinding food matter into particles small enough to flush down the drain pipes, garbage disposals have a relatively short lifespan. It might last as little as 8 years, but regular maintenance can last as much as 12 years. 

And while it’s difficult to see when is the time to replace it, watch out for signs including weird metal clanging noises, frequent clogging, unpleasant odors, and water leakage. Have it checked as soon as you can to help you prepare for any possible repairs.

Tips to make it last longer: 

  • Regularly clearing debris from the bottom of the disposal will help keep odors at bay. Just make sure that the disposal is unplugged or turned off before doing anything.

  • Avoid putting things like coffee grounds, eggshells, animal bones, any kind of fat, grease, or oil, or any hard and fibrous foods down the garbage disposal.


Microwaves have one of the shortest life expectancies among major kitchen appliances, which can easily be attributed to most homes getting a lot of mileage out of a single unit. Most brands on average need an upgrade every nine years or less. 

Look out for some surefire signs that a microwave oven is nearing the end of its life, including unpleasant odors, faulty keypads, and chipped or damaged parts. And even if it remains functional after using it for almost a decade, it’s recommended that you upgrade it for a newer, more energy-efficient model to save you money in the long run.

Tips to make it last longer: 

  • Since microwaves are easy to clean, do it frequently by wiping down the inside to clean it of food splatter. Remove the carousel tray and clean it in the sink. Also, clean the area underneath the carousel to ensure smooth rotation.

  • Run the microwave only when food or liquids are inside; never run the microwave when it is empty.

  • Use the appliance only for its intended purpose, such as quick-heating tasks, and leave the heavy work for your conventional oven instead.


Your oven is typically one of the longest lasting appliances in your kitchen. A gas oven will generally last around 15 years, while an electric oven will last around 13 years. As with most household appliances, regular checks and simple maintenance can keep your oven looking and working its best.

Tips to make it last longer: 

  • Clean your oven seasonally, especially after using it on any big holiday cooking marathon (aka Thanksgiving or Christmas). Follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning. You can also rely on a paste of baking soda and water to be used as a mild abrasive, or clean using a commercial oven cleaner following its instructions.


Dishwashers have a life expectancy of about 9 years but can last longer with proper maintenance and less usage. Obviously, the more you use it, the sooner it will wear out, especially if build-up occurs due to improper cleaning. And once a dishwasher breaks down, it’s wiser to replace than repair even if it hasn’t been with you for around its average lifespan.

Tips to make it last longer: 

  • Clean its filter regularly. Keep an eye on the bottom of the appliance to make sure that it is properly draining.

  • Remove food scraps, plastic bits, bones, or anything else that could clog the filter or drain lines.

  • Don the rubber gloves and wash the dishes by hand once in a while to avoid wearing out your dishwasher.


Water heaters typically last about a decade or more with proper maintenance. Tankless water heaters last more than 20 years, while an electric or gas tank water heater has a life expectancy of about 10-11 years.

How can you know how old your water heater is? You can tell just by looking at the serial number on the tank to know exactly when it was created. If your tank is older than a decade, and you haven’t flushed the sediment out of the bottom and live in a state with hard water (i.e., water with lots of minerals), you could be looking at a replacement. Likewise, any signs of rust in the water or of moisture around the heater show different issues that might require replacing the unit.

Tips to make it last longer: 

  • To reach its average life expectancy, water heaters need annual descaling to prevent sediment buildups, especially if your area uses hard water. Failing to do so can cause damage to the heat exchanger, which isn’t usually covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.

  • A so-called sacrificial anode rod, a corrosion-control device in your water heater, should be replaced every three to five years to significantly extend its lifespan.


You can expect your washing machine to last up to 10 years, although this time frame depends on the machine’s design and how well it’s been maintained. If it starts to work less efficiently and you’ve had it for almost a decade, sometimes repairing it only to last you a few more years could be more costly than replacing it with a new model. 

Tips to make it last longer: 

  • Both front load and top load washers should be cleaned monthly to remove detergent residue that traps soil and bacteria.

  • Similar to the dishwasher, excessive soap is the leading cause of washer issues. Use the right type and amount of detergent to avoid build-ups in the machine, which can cause the tub to smell musty and damage the gaskets, seals, and bearings. 

  • Check the water hoses regularly to assure that there are no kinks or rips.

  • Avoid overloading the machine.


Whether electric or gas, most dryers will last around 13 years, longer than the life expectancy of washers. 

Tips to make it last longer: 

  • Remember that a clogged trap is the top reason for stress on your dryer. So no matter how tempting it is to skip cleaning the lint trap between loads, clean it after every use.

  • Remove and clean debris from both the screen and the vent leading to the outside. The buildup in there will impair the operation of your dryer. Cleaning out your exhaust vent every year or two can go a long way toward extending the dryer’s life span.

  • Never put soiled clothes in the dryer.

  • Make sure to wash the dryer ducts annually.


One of the largest systems in your home, and one of the most important for your comfort all year round, is your heating and cooling system. If you have a typical HVAC system, your air conditioner and furnace will both last an average of 15 to 20 years. Most thermostats generally last about a decade, but can last longer depending on the make, model, and type.

Tips to make it last longer: 

  • Aside from proper maintenance, cleaning and replacing air filters regularly can help keep your HVAC system running smoothly for as long as possible.

  • Avoid overworking your air conditioning units.

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Mike Panza

Realtor

Panza Real Estate

(617) 921-6473

mike@mikepanza.com

panzarealestate.com

My focus is on helping my clients maximize the opportunity of homeownership to fit your situation. A home purchase or sale is a big commitment and the market is getting increasingly confusing, you need an experienced professional guiding you through the process. I will respond promptly, treat your inquiry with discretion and work diligently to address your questions and concerns.

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