Tuesday, May 15, 2012

the life expectancy of your home's components

According to one expert, 50% of the equipment and building materials that make up a house will need to be replaced over a period of 30 years. That being the case, knowing how long individual items typically last will make it far easier to control expenses, budget for the future, plan improvement projects, and maintain your home.

Of course, how you treat and maintain these products and materials will have a direct impact on how long they faithfully serve you. And when it comes to the outdoors, weather is a factor that must also be considered-not just the weather for your region, but also the 'microclimate' for your specific location. The more extreme the heat, cold, wind, wet, or dryness, the shorter the expected lifespan of any products and materials that live outside.

How long these products will last is difficult but two of the most respected resources on the subject chime in: Consumer Reports and the National Association of Home Builders.

While the annual studies performed by Consumer Reports show it's not true, many homeowners feel that home appliances today just don't last as long as they once did. However, it is true that modern appliances have become so complex that most are too expensive to repair when there is a failure. How long can you count on your appliances? Here are some estimates:
  • Dishwasher: nine or 10 years
  • Range: 17 years for an electric model, 19 years for gas
  • Refrigerator: 13 to 17 years
  • Microwave: nine to 11 years
  • Garbage disposal: 10 years
  • Washer and dryer: 13 to 14 years

Good old wood, if properly maintained and cared for, is one of the longest-lasting flooring products (100 years on average). Marble, slate and granite flooring products will last equally long.

Soft, cushy carpeting has the shortest average lifespan: eight to 10 years. Expect linoleum flooring to last between 20 and 25 years, while vinyl can be counted on for twice that long.

Heating and Cooling Equipment
Because your heating and cooling equipment is called upon to run for hours most every day, it's important that it be regularly serviced and properly maintained. For water heaters, pumps, and boilers, the quality of the water circulating through these things will also play a role in their longevity. In general, however, you can expect these items to last about:
  • Water heater: 14 years for an electric model, 11 to 13 years for gas
  • Whole-house air conditioner: 10 to 15 years
  • Furnace: 15 to 20 years
  • Hot-water boiler: 20 to 30 years
  • Heat pump: 16 years
  • Water pump: seven to 10 years
  • Water softener: 20 years

When properly cared for, entry doors (the main entrances/exits for your house) made of wood should last as long as the house itself. Solid core entry doors made of steel and fiberglass will last equally long, plus require less maintenance. Double entry doors (also called French doors) are a bit more particular, and therefore can be expected to last a little less time: 30 to 50 years.

Well constructed garage doors can be counted on to last 20 to 50 years, while the motors that open and close them typically perform well for about 10 years.

Old-fashioned wood windows can last 30-plus years. Vinyl versions typically last between 20 and 40 years, while aluminum models should be good for 15 to 20 years.

Asphalt shingles, by far the most common type of roofing, have been found to last on average 20 years. Wood shingle roofs can be counted on for about 30 years. Metal roofing will typically provide protection for 25 to 40 years, while slate and clay/concrete tile roofs will last the longest of all, over 50 years.

The wood siding on older homes (when thick, old growth cedar was used) will last 100 years; newer wood siding may only last 10 years. Siding made of brick, fiber-cement boards and engineered-wood should last as long as the house.

Exterior latex-based paints will last seven to 10 years. Interior paints don't usually need to be recoated for 15 years or more.

When to repair or replace a broken appliance. This checklist might provide some guidance.

Reasons to repair a broken appliance:
  • If the cost for the repairs is covered under a warranty
  • If the future life expectancy of the appliance is six years or more
  • If the estimated repair cost is less than 50% of the cost to purchase a new replacement
  • If the appliance has features and/or functions not matched on newer models
  • If costly changes to surrounding counters or cabinets must be made to remove the old model and/or make a new model fit the same space
Reasons to replace a broken appliance:
  • If replacement parts will be especially hard to find
  • If the estimated repair cost is more than 50% of the cost to purchase a new replacement
  • If a newer model is more energy-efficient
  • If a newer model has the features you desire

I hope this information helps answers questions you may have on this topic. If you need a list of reliable vendors in the greater Puget Sound region, drop me a line and I will get one off to you.

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur