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December 2, 2017

How long do appliances last? It depends on the type and the brand

by John_A

Whether you’re buying a home or just thinking about replacing an appliance, it’s always smart to know how long that expensive piece of equipment will keep running before the chances of a break down skyrocket. How long do appliances last? Here’s some helpful information.

As a general rule, times are changing when it comes to today’s more complex appliances – meaning that they don’t last as long as they used to. Scott Garrett, an appliance technician in Connecticut, told The Hartford Courant that you can expect most to go strong for a decade.

“What I like to see is 10 years,” Garrett said. “But that isn’t every appliance, not every time. I’m seeing some last three to four years depending on what it is, what brand it is; some brands last longer than others. The life expectancy isn’t there anymore.”

Note: more expensive does not necessarily equal longer lasting. You may pay a lot more for bells and whistles that don’t change the durability of your appliance, and in some cases make it even more fragile. Read reviews thoroughly before getting dazzled by technology. And remember, nothing improves the life of your washing machine, fridge, or dishwasher like regular maintenance and cleaning.

Dishwashers: 9 to 13 years

The average dishwasher lasts for about nine years, but can make it 10 to 13 years with proper maintenance. In this case, “proper maintenance” means running the dishwasher regularly and cleaning out the filter whenever it gets dirty. When dishwashers break down, it’s frequently because of a worn-out seal or gasket, which causes further internal problems. Regular operation helps keeps these rubberized parts happier.

Dishwashers in particular have little relation between price and durability. Sometimes the more electronics and components you add, the more things can break down. For the most durable dishwasher, look for those with high-quality parts that resist rust and wear in the pump and piping components, where operation matters more than style.

It’s worth noting that companies like Sebring Services put appliances such as dishwashers a bit lower at around 9 years, based on their industry data.

Oven ranges: 13 to 15 years

The oven range is just the first appliance on our list where the fuel type matters a lot. Electric ranges use heating elements that are more likely to crack and break down over time. Gas ranges, meanwhile, have simple ignition systems and can typically weather the years more easily. American Home Shield , which collects insurance information, reports that electric ranges typically last around 13 years, and gas ranges around 15 years. Gas parts tend to be a little more durable.

Microwaves: 9 to 10 years

Microwaves will last between 9 and 10 years for most kitchens. While a microwave is a fairly complex gadget, there’s not much you can do to help it last other than keep it clean… and be gentle with the door. Yale Appliance reports that, in the company’s service and repair experience, microwaves are some of the most durable and least repair-prone appliances thanks to their technology. Oven hoods, often closely associated with over-range microwaves, also last a long time according to Yale.

Refrigerators and freezers: 11 to 19 years

With the refrigerator, it’s all about what kind you have. A fridge with the common side doors – one for cooling, one for freezing – actually has the worst life span at around 14 years. Those with a top-door freezer can last 17 years. A refrigerator with only one door, while a rare sight these days, has the best life expectancy of all with 19 years. As you can imagine, the harder the fridge has to work at cooling, the more quickly important components like the compressor will wear out.

A freezer, understandably, has to work a lot harder to cool than a refrigerator. That’s why the average lifespan of a freezer-only unit is about 11 years.

Garbage disposals: 12 years

Most garbage disposals will last around 12 years. However, maintenance is particularly important when it comes to disposal longevity. We know you can’t control how your disposal was used before you moved in, but always remember to only dispose of proper foods and never dump in anything like coffee grounds, rice, grease, or thick vegetable fibers. These can ruin your disposal and lead to its untimely death.

This may be why some companies like Sebring Services report that garbage disposals typically only last around 9 years. Meanwhile, companies like Yale Appliance study  sales generated vs. warranty service calls within the first year, and report that garbage disposals are actually one of the most dependable appliances they’ve come across. The secret is probably in the maintenance!

Since we’re moving on from kitchen appliances it’s worth nothing that Yale Appliance’s study also found that the most dependable brands on the market included Wolf, Thermador, KitchenAid, and Maytag.

Washing machines and dryers: 10 to 14 years

We grouped the washer and dryer together because their life expectancies are similar, and most people think about them as a package deal, anyway. A washing machine will typically last 10 to 14 years, while a dryer will last 10 to 13 years. (Those heating components tend to be a bit more fragile.)

Two things matter when it comes to your cleaning appliances. The first is how often they are used: If you have a family with half-a-dozen members and are doing lots of laundry every week, you’ll probably only make it to around 10 years. The other important factor is, surprisingly, front loaders vs. top loaders: While there is some disagreement about this, top loading washers appear to last longer than front loaders.

Water heaters: 10 to 25 years

The key question here is: What kind do you have? A tankless water heater designed to heat water only as it is needed can easily last over two decades. An electric gas heater will typically last around 10 years. A gas heater is a bit more durable, but life expectancy isn’t too much longer.

The type of water you have in your area is also important. Hard water has lots of minerals that can precipitate out in the heat and cause problems with scale clogs and buildup that may slowly ruin water heaters over time. If a heater is dealing with well water, the extra sediment could cause additional problems and lower the life span even more.

Furnaces: 15 to 18 years

Furnaces also have life spans based largely on type – in this case, fuel source. A gas furnace will generally last around three years longer than an electrical furnace (and it will use far less energy). As with oven ranges, this happens because gas is generally a more efficient heating fuel with fewer breakable parts involved.

This is also one occasion where newer appliances tend to outlast older models. This is because newer furnaces tend to be far more efficient and can do the same amount of heating in less time, with less wear and tear.

Heat pumps: 15 to 20 years

A good heat pump can easily last 15 to 20 years when properly maintained. Every heat pump should occasionally be checked to make sure the coils and fins are clean (a do-it-yourself job) and that refrigerant levels are good (a professional job). Changing air filters regularly is also important. Like furnaces, newer heat pumps tend to be more efficient and able to last longer than older, clunkier models.

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