How long should my home appliances last?

Assuming you take care of them, we have some answers that could help.

Key tips to remember

  • Regular cleaning and maintenance are critical
  • Owner’s manuals describe ideal care guidelines
  • Plan ahead for expensive appliance replacement
  • Energy, water and fuel efficiencies impact cost of use
  • Newer models offer significant efficiency improvements
DIY

Whether you’re moving into a new home, building one or just planning and budgeting for some of the most expensive house-related purchases, it helps to be informed about what you can expect in terms of the lifespan of common home appliances. Whether you bought an extended warranty or are highly skilled at appliance repair and prefer a DIY approach, it’s good to have a general idea of what you’re getting into. 

Surveys indicate that most consumers expect about 10 years of reliable service out of their new appliances, regardless of brand, model or even the type of appliance they’re considering. While some manufacturers claim up to a quarter-century of performance, few guarantee trouble-free service for such lengths of time. In fact, for most major appliances like those we profile below, it’s common for problems to arise in the first five years of use. Still, many appliances are well built and will last long beyond even the manufacturer’s predictions. 

We all want to get the most use out of an investment as significant as an appliance. If you take care of your appliances with regular cleaning and regular maintenance as is specifically recommended by the manufacturer and described in the manual, you’re doing what you can to ensure you get the most out of your appliance investments, and our numbers below are based on the assumption that you’re doing both.

Refrigerators

As the centerpiece of your kitchen, everything tends to revolve around the refrigerator. According to Consumer Reports, approximately 40% of all new refrigerators will experience problems within the first 5 years of ownership. Although this percentage drops to around 25% among their best-rated brands, it increases to around 60% for brands they’ve rated the worst. 

These days, most refrigerators are expected to last between 9 and 13 years. If you have an older fridge that still seems to be working well, you still may want to consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient model, which could save you money in operating expenses.

Dishwashers

Few modern homeowners elect to forego dishwashers. According to Consumer Reports, approximately 30% of all new dishwashers will experience problems within the first 5 years of ownership. Although this percentage drops to around 20% among their best-rated brands, it increases to around 50% for brands they’ve rated the worst. Well maintained, they can last a decade, but newer models use a lot less water and electricity.

Ranges

Though there are people who cook only with microwaves, it’s not a choice we’d recommend if you really enjoy food. If you want to cook anything properly, you’re going to need a stove. According to Consumer Reports, approximately 25% of all new ranges will experience problems within the first 5 years of ownership. Although this percentage drops to around 15% among their best-rated brands, it increases to around 40% for brands they’ve rated the worst. 

You can expect a range to last about 15 years, though a gas range might last a couple years longer than an electric model. The hood, installed above the range, has a similar lifespan, so there’s a high likelihood you’ll be replacing both at the same time.

Microwaves (over the range or OTR models)

Though some households skip the microwave, plenty rely on them, especially those that serve leftovers. According to Consumer Reports, approximately 25% of all new OTR microwaves will experience problems within the first 5 years of ownership. Although this percentage drops to around 15% among their best-rated brands, it increases to around 35% for brands they’ve rated the worst. You can expect a microwave to last about nine years, but of course there are exceptions on either side of that number.

Washing machines

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have them in our homes consider the washing machine to be an essential part of our regular routines. According to Consumer Reports, approximately 30% of all washing machines will experience problems within the first 5 years of ownership. Although this percentage drops to around 10% among their best-rated brands, it increases to around 50% for brands they’ve rated the worst. Most washing machines can be expected to remain in service for about a decade of regular, vigorous use.

Clothes dryers

A clothes dryer is to the washing machine as peanut butter is to jelly. One without the other is a bummer. According to Consumer Reports, approximately 20% of all clothes dryers will experience problems within the first 5 years of ownership. Although this percentage drops to around 10% among their best-rated brands, it increases to around 30% for brands they’ve rated the worst. Most dryers can be expected to run for about 13 years.

Garbage disposals and trash compactors

Garbage disposals have a rough life. People are always cramming nasty junk in there and grinding it up. It’s always wet and crowded, sometimes pretty gross and often even smoky. Still, these marvels of modern technology punch well above their weight, averaging around 12 years of service before replacement is required.

Freezers

If you have the room and the money for a standalone freezer, you’re probably well stocked for the next pandemic lockdown, and we’re all jealous. Stocking up on your favorites is a lot easier with a separate freezer, and you can expect yours to last up to 20 years!

Furnaces

Modern furnaces last between 13 and 20 years, typically, depending on your make, model and fuel source. Within that range, their longevity, listed from lengthiest lifespan to shortest, includes furnaces running on oil, gas or electricity.

HVAC units

Your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system works overtime, all day and night, to keep your home at optimal temperatures. They have a wide range of component parts, some of which last longer than others. Most units last somewhere between 15 and 25 years, depending on how hard they are pushed and how well they’re maintained.

Water heaters

Your tank-based electric or gas water heater will typically last you between 9 and 11 years, but the newer, more efficient, hot-on-demand, tankless models can be expected to run for two decades or even longer. They certainly cost more up front, but they save you money over time because they last longer and use less water and energy than their standard tank counterparts.

As you consider your home appliance options, we hope this post has been helpful. If you’d like to read more about topics like fixing or replacing broken appliances or the cost of replacing a home radiator, we have some articles that might be useful to you. Perhaps you’d like to know more about the best time to buy new appliances or information on appliances that break down most often. Maybe you’ve had enough of all this appliance talk and would like to consider a few fun purchases that cost as much as an appliance repair could cost you. At any rate, we’re glad you stopped by and hope you find what you’re looking for as you read our variety of posts.


The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.
 

Related stories