When Is It Time to Replace Appliances?
Determine the average lifespan of different major home appliances and how to know when you should replace them.
At some point every major appliance in your home—refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, washer/dryer—will need to be upgraded or replaced. The key is knowing how to recognize when each appliance is on the way out so you can start shopping for new appliances. Even if purchasing a brand new major appliance seems expensive, in the long run it's a worthwhile investment that could end up saving you money instead of spending on costly repairs that don't always completely fix the problem. Plus, many new appliances come standard with a warranty that covers the cost of repairs due to normal wear and tear under the terms of the specific plan.
Average Lifespan of Common Appliances
It's important to know the lifespan of major home appliances and also how to properly maintain them in order to keep them functioning for as long as possible. However, if you are having major issues and suspect it's time to replace appliances, it's good to have some guidelines.
On average, most major appliances will last somewhere between 10 to 15 years. This will depend on how frequently you use them, how often you clean them and if you have regular maintenance performed (if/when needed). The cost of new appliances may depend on the brand and features. If your appliances aren't working properly, you'll most likely notice a spike in your energy costs, and should consider purchasing new appliances. Have a professional come out to inspect and perform maintenance to determine if it's time to replace appliances.
There are many refrigerator models, and it's important to consider which type suits your needs, your space and your budget. Side-by-side (also called French door), top-freezer and bottom-freezer are a few common models. On average, a good refrigerator will last about 12 years. Because it stores and preserves food and drink for consumption, it is considered one of the most important kitchen appliances and it's very important to keep it in top shape. The last thing you want to deal with is spoiled food or even food-related illness. A properly working refrigerator should maintain a temperature between 37 and 40 degrees.
Expect to replace your dishwasher every eight to 10 years. Dishwashers offer you a great deal of convenience, so if you want to avoid having to wash your dishes by hand, pay attention to certain issues that indicate yours may be on the way out. The good news is that when you do have to replace appliances, dishwashers are relatively inexpensive. A new model starts at around $400.
A range—a unit that combines both a cooking surface and a cooking chamber—provides a great deal of modern convenience in a home's kitchen, and many can last upwards of 15 to 20 years if properly maintained. Most newer models include a self-cleaning option and can either be electric or gas-burning. Another popular feature is the range hood, or exhaust hood—a device that hangs above the oven or stove top containing a mechanical fan—that helps filter and remove particles such as odors, smoke, fumes and heat.
Both your washer and dryer have an average lifespan of eight to 12 years. Regularly cleaning the lint trap and ducts in your dryer can help prolong its longevity and overall performance, plus, this will help significantly help reduce the risk of a fire hazard. Cleaning—and when necessary replacing—the hoses in both the washer and dryer can help you get the most out of these devices as opposed to having to replace appliances.
Do You Need New Appliances?
It's one thing to upgrade to the latest model of new appliances because you want the most current version with all the new technology and all the bells and whistles, but it's quite another when you need to replace appliances because they've stopped working altogether. If the device won't turn on at all, it could mean it's beyond repair and time for a replacement. In some cases you may just need a quick repair that a professional can fix, but if you find you're continuously having the same part serviced, it's probably best to start shopping for new appliances. Keep in mind that the average lifespan is just that - an average. Some may last longer than the projected time and some may give out sooner. If you've had an appliance for 10 years or longer, remember that you may find it's not working as well as it once did and may be time for a new one.
While you may just have a defective thermostat, there are many other working parts that will affect how your refrigerator is running, including the fans, controls, condensers/compressors and door switches. Pay attention to the following problems:
- Food doesn't stay cold - the recommended temperature is between 37 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit
- Excessive condensation inside the fridge, on the outside of the door or even frost in the freezer
- The exterior is hot to the touch and/or the motor is constantly running
While you can see some evidence of an aging dishwasher—cloudy glasses, water spots on dishes and leaking during the cleaning cycle—some problems are only apparent on the interior and when it's running. These issues indicate that your dishwasher isn't working correctly:
- Turns off in the middle of the cycle
- Won't fill completely with water or doesn't drain completely
- Strange/loud noises coming from the dishwasher when it's operating - this could mean the motor or pump needs to be replaced
A good rule of thumb to follow is if the cost of repairs is more than 50 percent of the value of the range, it's better to spend money on a new one. Common problems with this appliance involve igniter failure and temperature issues such as:
- No longer properly regulates temperature - this could just mean the thermostat needs to be replaced. This usually will result in unevenly cooked food.
- Oven or cooking surface either won't heat up at all or get way too hot (regardless of temperature setting)
- Self-cleaning feature has stopped working and/or door stays latched even after cleaning cycle is complete
If you find that it's time to replace your washing machine but not your dryer (or vice versa), it's not necessary to purchase a new set, but some reasons you may want to stick to buying both at the same time include performance, capacity and cost. Oftentimes if one of the appliances stops working, it's likely that its counterpart isn't far behind. Here's how to know if it's time for new appliances:
- Washer leaks or the drum won't completely fill up with water
- Dryer doesn't get clothes dry or has caught fire (could mean wiring is faulty due to dry, cracked or peeling plastic coating around the wires)
- Either appliance moves or makes excessive noise during its cycle
The information and advice contained in this article is intended as a general guide for informational purposes only. It does not take into account your personal situation. While we at Resolve have significant experience and history operating in the home restoration industry and working closely with construction contractors, we are not licensed as a general or specialty contractor. We encourage you to consider the information we’ve provided but urge you not to rely upon it in place of appropriate professional advice from a licensed, experienced construction contractor.