I’m always a little surprised by someone’s reaction when I tell them that some of the major components of the home may be near the end of their useful service life, particularly when the house is nearly 15 years old. I understand that the average person doesn’t sit around and converse about the life expectancy of their water heater, roof, and HVAC. So, I thought I would discuss the average life expectancy of some common household components. It’s important to keep in mind the following are just industry averages. Some components may fall short of their expected life span and others will far exceed it.
Water Heaters: Gas or electric water heaters should expect an average life of 8 to 12 years. During that span, it’s not unreasonable to have to replace the elements of an electric water heater. Depending on the corrosiveness of your water source, you may also have to replace the anode rod as well. The sacrificial anode rod, as the name implies, extends the life of the water heater by attracting corrosive elements in the water.
Range, Oven, Refrigerator: These have a typical life expectancy of 15 to 20 years. Again, you may need to replace the burners and/or elements in an electric oven/range during its service life.
Dishwasher and Disposals: Your dishwasher and disposal will, on average, last 8 to 12 years. Of course this depends upon usage, but for this post it assumes daily use.
HVAC: Unfortunately, your heating and cooling system will eventually need to be replaced. The good news is that you have about 20 to 25 years before this becomes a reality. Perhaps long before then, you may need to replace the condenser and/or the evaporator coil. The best advice here is to have a service contract with a local, reputable HVAC company and get regular services before the cooling and heating seasons. This is well worth the money, but eventually a replacement will be necessary.
Roof Covering: Your roof can vary dramatically with type of covering, but for this post I’ll focus on what is most popular in our area; asphalt and metal. The average useful life of asphalt shingles in mild climates is normally 15 to 20 years, but in hotter regions that can be reduced from sun and extreme heat. Metal roofing, which is becoming very popular again, can last as long as 20 to 40 years as long as you are careful to keep it properly coated to prevent corrosion. I recommend inspecting at least once a year and applying touch up paint to any area with exposed base metal.
I hope this helps to give a realistic expectation of the useful service life of common home components as it pertains to your decision to purchase a “new” home.