Life Expectancy of Major Appliances

Chances are, a quick tally of the combined cost of the appliances in your house yields a number ending in a surprising amount of zeroes. Not only are major appliances the workhorses of modern-day convenience, but they're an investment that exerts a significant effect on home value. While appliance lifespans vary widely based on the quality of the appliance and, above all, the regularly of maintenance, collected data sheds some light on ballpark life expectancies for the major household players.

Female salesclerk demonstrating cooker to couple, smiling
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A saleswoman showing a couple a modern oven in a showroom.

Kitchen Staples

The center of virtually any kitchen, gas and electric ranges last about 13 to 17 years -- with electric models typically expiring a year or two earlier than gas -- according to 2015 estimates from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. InterNACHI puts the lifespan of a refrigerator at about nine to 13 years, while dishwashers fall on the lower end of the life expectancy chart, capping out at about nine years of service, a figure that H&R Block agrees with. If you rely on a standalone freezer for extra food storage, expect a hearty 10 to 20 years of life. Sensitive technologies such as electronic readouts and touchscreens can expire much more quickly than an appliance's mechanical components.

The HVAC Family

On the higher end of the lifespan spectrum, the finance gurus at Kiplinger estimate that boilers live about 13 to 21 years. InterNACHI claims that some even have lifespans of up to four decades. Furnaces peak at about 15 to 20 years, according to Kiplinger. The same source notes that tankless gas and electric water heaters can also last up to 20 years, while traditional hot water heaters only last about 10. Kiplinger places the life expectancy of a central air conditioning system at roughly 10 to 15 years. InterNACHI data suggests that central AC is a sound investment, as window units commonly have a shorter lifespan of five to seven years. Due to more frequent use and atmospheric moisture, the lifespan of heating, ventilation and air conditioning appliances takes a significant hit in humid coastal regions.

Maintenance Workhorses

You may find yourself replacing your washing machine more than other appliances, as some expire as quickly as five years. Data from InterNACHI and H&R Block shows that well-maintained, high-quality washers can last up to 15 years**, however, while their clothes-drying brethren offer an average of 13 years in service. Green homes not only save money on electric bills and go easy on the environment, but they can rest easy on energy appliance replacement; the average solar panel works for an impressive 20 to 30 years, says InterNACHI.

Lengthening Lifespans

Because each appliance's needs drastically differ, always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for maintenance. Some rules of thumb, however, help you extend your appliances' lifespans across the board. Keeping your machines clean -- especially in the case of kitchen appliances, which easily accrue food and grease buildup -- is absolutely key to a long life. Look for obvious signs of wear like worn seals and water scale, and make small repairs and replacements, such as tending to old belts or hoses, promptly to save on money and labor in the long run.