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The Average Lifespan Of Household Appliances

Lauren Nowacki8-Minute Read
July 31, 2020

Household appliances have made comfortable and convenient living possible. And though we continue to see new models get better and better with the advancement of technology, we still haven’t been able to figure out how to make them last forever.

While appliance failure is inevitable with age, there are steps you can take to help prolong its life or at least help it reach its golden years.

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.

Here’s how long you can expect these common home appliances to last before needing to be replaced.

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 last beyond 10 years.  

Refrigerator: 10 – 18 Years

Help your refrigerator have a long 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 too full that you block airflow, but keep it filled to maintain the temperature.
  • 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.
  • 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 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. 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 leg, 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.
  • 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 15 – 20 years, 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.
  • 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 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.

Trash Compactor: 7 – 12 Years

To extend your compactor’s lifespan, do this:

  • Avoid compacting items that may damage the appliance, including glass, batteries, wood and oil.
  • Routinely check the compactor for items accidentally left at the bottom.
  • If your compactor has a filter, replace it at least once per year.
  • Clean your compactor at least once per month following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Avoid overfilling the compactor bag.

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it may be time for a new trash compactor:

  • It’s constantly breaking down and needing repair.
  • It’s excessively loud.
  • It won’t open or start.

Will Home Warranties Cover Aged 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.

The Bottom Line

Taking care of your appliances can help you save money, energy and time. There are several ways to prolong the life of your household appliances, but the best way is to consult a professional maintenance and repair service. When it comes time to replace your appliance, make sure you research a few different models and take into consideration your budget, how you wish to use the appliance and how long you need it to last.

Looking for more home maintenance tips? Check out our resource center for homeowners.

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Lauren Nowacki

Lauren Nowacki is a staff writer specializing in personal finance, homeownership and the mortgage industry. She has a B.A. in Communications and has worked as a writer and editor for various publications in Philadelphia, Chicago and Metro Detroit.