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  • Writer's pictureTeam Pinto

The Lifespan of Home Appliances: Knowing When to Repair or Replace

The ongoing evolution of household appliances has made living more comfortable and convenient for all of us. And, despite the fact that new models continue to improve as technology advances, often to the point it almost feels like we are starting to live in The Jetsons' world, manufacturers still haven't figured out how to make them last indefinitely.

While appliance failure is inevitable with age, there are steps you can take to help prolong many home. appliances' lifespan or at least help them reach their golden years. If you are buying a new Waterloo Region home, the age of the appliances may be able to give you an idea of how much you can expect to have to invest in replacements in the near future. There's a reason we, as real estate agents, often mention if a home for sale boasts new appliances: that fact can save you a lot of money during the first few years of owning your new home.

How Long Do Home Appliances Last?

Just how long your appliance will last will depend on how well you take care of it, how much you use it, and the brand, make and model you choose. While you’ll need to consider all these factors, there’s an average amount of years each home appliance lasts, and those general expected lifespans are what we are going to take a closer look at here.

Kitchen Appliances

From storing and cooking food to shredding waste and cleaning plates, your kitchen appliances work hard in every step of meal preparation and cleanup. While these appliances are used daily, many should last well beyond the 10 year mark, as long as they are properly cared for.

Refrigerator: 10 – 18 Years

You can help your refrigerator enjoy a longer life by following these tips:

  • Routinely clean your fridge, inside and out, including the condenser coils, which tend to collect dust and dirt.

  • Make sure the door gaskets are clean and still creating a good seal to prevent air from escaping and condensation from getting in. If they are worn out or brittle, they could make the fridge work harder than it needs to.

  • Keep the top of your fridge clear to allow heat to escape. If you have cabinets above the fridge, leave a few inches of space between the top of the fridge and the bottom of the cabinet.

  • Don’t pack the fridge so full that you block airflow, but keep it filled enough to maintain the temperature. 2/3 full can be a great rule of thumb to follow.

  • Make sure the fridge sits level to ensure it closes properly.

Watch for these signs that may indicate it’s time for a new fridge:

  • It’s not cooling or staying cold as it once did.

  • Your food is spoiling long before the expiration date.

  • There’s excessive condensation.

  • There’s a buildup of frost inside the freezer.

  • There’s excessive noise while it runs.

Oven: 13 – 23 Years

How long your oven lasts will also depend on whether it’s gas or electric, as gas stoves tend to last longer.

Whether your oven is gas or electric, taking these steps will help ensure you get the most years out of your appliance:

  • Routinely check the seals on your oven door to ensure heat isn’t escaping.

  • Keep your oven clean, but avoid the self-cleaning feature, which can put undue stress on the appliance.

  • When cleaning your oven, avoid spraying cleaning solution on the heating knobs.

  • While cooking on the stove top, refrain from covering your oven’s burners with tin foil. Doing so could cause uneven heating and internal damage.

Other than its age, there may be some other indications that it’s time to replace your oven, including:

  • It isn’t heating evenly or at all.

  • The interior has rust, or the glass door or the ceramic top has cracks.

  • It’s taking longer than normal to preheat.

  • You’re having difficulties with the pilot.

  • The control panel is malfunctioning.

Dishwasher: 9 – 16 Years

These maintenance tips will help your dishwasher run properly and ensure it’ll make your dishes sparkling clean for many years to come.

  • Keep the inside of your dishwasher and the filter clean.

  • Make sure you’re using the appliance routinely. Many components can seize or fail without regular use.

  • Scrape your plate, but don’t feel the need to rinse it completely.

  • Make sure the dishwasher is clear of any solid pieces of food, which can tear the filter and clog the hose.

  • Clean the door seal to remove buildup of food or other residues, which can keep the door from sealing properly.

  • Refrain from overloading your dishwasher, which can cause strain.

If your dishwasher is showing any of these signs, it may be time to replace it:

  • The door isn’t locking.

  • There’s water leaking onto your floor.

  • Dishes are coming out still dirty or spotty.

  • There’s rust, cracking or other physical damage.

  • It’s making weird noises during a wash cycle.

Garbage Disposal: 10 – 15 Years

Prolong the life of your garbage disposal with these action steps:

  • Only run cold water when the disposal is on. Hot water may cause fat to stick to the interior.

  • Use ice to clean and sharpen the blades.

  • Run citrus peels through the disposal to prevent bacterial growth. This can also replace foul odors with a fresh scent.

  • Clean the appliance with degreaser or a cleaner specifically made for garbage disposals. Don’t use harsh cleaning chemicals.

  • Avoid putting eggshells, pasta, grease, potato peels and coffee grounds down your disposal as these foods are notorious for clogging drains.

When it’s time to replace your garbage disposal, you may notice the following issues:

  • The blades are worn down.

  • The motor has burned out.

  • It clogs frequently.

  • There’s a leak.

  • There’s a persistent odor you can’t get rid of.

Microwave: 5 – 10 Years

While it’s relatively inexpensive to replace a microwave, you’ll still want to get your money’s worth, especially if it's a built in which will be more costly and complex to replace. Here’s how to make your microwave last longer:

  • Only use microwave-safe dishes when heating foods.

  • Keep metals, such as aluminum foil and gold and silver accents, out of microwaves.

  • Stop or pause heating before opening the microwave door while the appliance is running.

  • Clean the interior often to avoid burning or damaging its mechanical parts.

  • Never run the microwave when it’s empty. This can cause damage because there’s nothing to absorb its electromagnetic waves.

When your microwave is on its last legs, you may notice a few signs that it’s time to replace it:

  • It makes rattling, buzzing or grinding noises while it runs.

  • The control panel no longer works consitently.

  • It takes longer to heat your food.

  • There’s a burning smell when you use it.

  • It smokes or sparks whenever it’s in use.

Heating Ventilation And Air Conditioning (HVAC) Appliances

Your HVAC system is responsible for regulating the temperature in your home, keeping you warm in the colder months and cool during the warmer seasons.

As your furnace and air conditioner are some of the most expensive appliances to replace, you’ll want to make sure you’re taking the right steps to keep them functioning at the highest levels. The added benefit of maintaining your HVAC appliances is you’ll be able to lower your electric bill and heating costs throughout the year.

Furnace: 15 – 20 Years

To help your furnace reach the expected 15 – 20 year mark, make sure you do the following:

  • Schedule a yearly tune-up that includes a cleaning and inspection of the appliance. The best time to do this is late summer or early fall.

  • Change your air filter every 3 months to keep your furnace running efficiently.

  • Use a programmable thermostat to give your furnace a break when you aren’t home for prolonged periods of time.

  • Make sure you aren’t closing too many vents, which can put a strain on the system.

When it’s time to get a new furnace, your system may tell you in the following ways:

  • It stops heating your home.

  • It’s heating rooms unevenly.

  • Your heating bills are much higher than normal.

  • It’s rattling or humming loudly.

  • It has rust or cracks.

Air Conditioner: 15 – 20 Years

To get the most years out of your air conditioning system, take the following steps:

  • Schedule a cleaning and inspection every spring and fall.

  • Keep debris like sticks and leaves off the unit.

  • Keep 2 – 3 feet around the unit clear.

  • Change the air filter every 3 months.

  • Winterize your air conditioner by insulating the pipes and covering the unit with a waterproof cover.

There are several signs that will tell you it’s time for a new air conditioner, including:

  • It isn’t cooling the home evenly.

  • It’s giving off an odor.

  • The air in your home feels humid.

  • Your energy bill has increased dramatically.

  • Your unit is in constant need of repair.

Other Household Appliances

While they may not fall into a specific category, the following household appliances are just as important when it comes to caring for your home and your health. They can also be expensive to replace if they give out before their time.

Washer And Dryer: Up To 18 Years

Dryers may last a little longer than washers, with an average lifespan of 11-18 years. Washers only tend to last 8 – 16 years. Keep in mind that, like ovens, the lifespan of your dryer will depend on whether it’s gas or electric. For this household appliance, an electric one may last a few years longer than gas.

To extend the lifespan of your washer or dryer, try these preventative maintenance tasks:

  • Ensure your washing machine is level to keep it from damaging itself.

  • Use the right amount of detergent and the right kind of detergent. If your machine is a high efficiency (HE) washer, use detergent that’s made for this type of machine.

  • Replace cracked or brittle water-fill hoses.

  • Wipe down gaskets and keep doors open when the washing machine isn’t in use to dry areas and prevent mold and mildew.

  • Clean the lint trap after every use to keep your dryer running efficiently and also help prevent house fires.

  • Clean your dryer duct at least once every year to remove lint buildup. You can do this by disconnecting the duct and using a vacuum hose to reach into the duct and remove excess lint.

  • Run only full loads to keep your water usage down.

You’ll know it’s time to buy a new washer or dryer when you notice these signs:

  • There are loud and excessive noises coming from the appliances while they run.

  • The washer isn’t draining or filling up.

  • Your washing machine is leaking.

  • You need to run the dryer more than once to fully dry your load.

  • The dryer’s drum is completely off balance.

Water Heater: 10 – 15 Years

Unless you have a tankless water heater – which can last up to 20 years – you can expect your water heater to last 10 – 15 years.

Here are a few things you can do to get to that 15 years or beyond:

  • Flush your tank annually to remove any sediment and mineral deposits.

  • Insulate your water heater to help it run more efficiently.

  • Check for and replace a worn-out anode rod. These should be replaced every 3 – 5 years.

  • Make sure the space around your water heater is clear.

  • Install an expansion tank to reduce water pressure on the system.

If you’re wondering if it’s time to replace your water heater, look for these red flags:

  • It’s no longer heating your water.

  • It’s putting out rusty or cloudy water.

  • It’s leaking water.

  • There are knocking or rumbling sounds coming from your tank, which may indicate sediment build-up.

  • There’s rust inside the tank, indicated by a rusty pressure relief valve or water inlet.

Will Home Warranties Cover Aging Household Appliances?

Home warranties may cover the repair or replacement of a home appliance regardless of its age as long as it’s covered in your plan and meets the requirements listed in your home warranty contract. For example, your appliance may not be covered if it was installed incorrectly, had 'preexisting conditions' before you got the warranty or was not properly maintained.

Why the Age of Home Appliances Matters to Home Buyers

When buying a Waterloo Region home, it's crucial to consider the age of the appliances included in the sale. Appliances play a significant role in our daily lives, from keeping our food fresh to ensuring our clothes are clean. However, as appliances age, their efficiency can decrease, leading to higher utility bills and a greater likelihood of breakdowns.

Older appliances may no longer meet current energy standards, which means they could be costing you more to operate than newer models. Additionally, the older an appliance is, the closer it is to the end of its expected lifespan. This means you might need to budget for replacements sooner than you think, which can add unexpected expenses to the cost of your new home.

Moreover, the condition and age of appliances can also reflect the overall maintenance and care the previous homeowners have given the property. Well-maintained, newer appliances can indicate a home that has been looked after, whereas older, worn-out appliances might suggest potential neglect.

Understanding the age and condition of the appliances can also give you leverage in negotiations. You might negotiate a lower purchase price or request that the seller replace certain appliances as part of the deal. This can ultimately save you money and hassle in the long run.

In short, taking the time to assess the age and condition of the home appliances before purchasing can provide you with a clearer picture of the home's value and what future costs you might incur. This ensures you make a well-informed decision that aligns with your long-term satisfaction and financial planning.

Let Team Pinto Guide Your Real Estate Journey in the Waterloo Region

Whether you're stepping into the market as a buyer or preparing to list your home for sale, understanding the nuances, like the age and condition of home appliances, can significantly impact your real estate decisions. That's where Team Pinto comes in. As experienced real estate professionals in the Waterloo Region, we are committed to providing our clients with comprehensive support, insightful advice, and tailored strategies to navigate the market confidently.

For buyers, we'll help you assess the true value of a potential home, considering all factors, including the longevity and efficiency of included appliances. Our goal is to ensure you make an informed purchase that meets your needs and budget, without unforeseen costs down the line.

For sellers, we offer expert guidance on how to present your home in the best light, possibly including updates to appliances that can enhance your home's appeal and market value. We understand the local buyer's expectations and can advise on strategic upgrades that yield a high return on investment.

Choose Team Pinto as your trusted real estate partner in the Waterloo Region. Whether buying or selling, we'll provide you with the insights and expertise needed to make savvy decisions in today's dynamic market.

Contact us today to discuss how we can support your real estate goals, ensuring a smooth and successful journey from start to finish. With Team Pinto by your side, you're not just making a transaction; you're making a smart investment in your future.


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