How Long Will Your Major Home Purchases Last?

By Lindsey Walta, September 22, 2008 | In Home Design |

The Chicago Tribune recently wrote an article titled, “Built to last? Check home’s life expectancy.” This was a great quick overview of how long you can expect the major purchases you will make in your new home to last. It also gave a few tips on how to extend the life of some of these things.

It’s important to know the life expectancy of various purchases for two reasons. First, you want to know what purchases to spend extra on because upgrading drastically improves the lifespan of certain purchases. Second, if you buy a previously owned home, you want to know how old everything is and how much longer you can expect to enjoy it before it needs replacing.

The Chicago Tribune reported:

Appliances: Your gas range will probably last 15 years, dryers and refrigerators should last about 13 years, microwaves and dishwashers should last 9 years, and trash compactors will last about 6 years.

They suggest you keep your refrigerator’s coils and door gasket clean to keep a better seal and cut down on energy loss and prevent wear on the motor. For your dishwasher, the more you use it, the longer it will last. Infrequent use causes gaskets to dry out and result in leaks.

Flooring: Wood, marble, granite, and slate floors are the most durable and can last 100 years or more if cared for properly and treated with the correct protective finishes. Vinyl should last 50 years and linoleum should last 25 years if taken care of properly. Carpet life expectancy depends on the grade of the carpet. The better the grade, the longer it will last. A really good carpet can last 20+ years. This is a place where it is worth it to spend extra. The standard builder grade cream carpet that is typically in spec houses will wear out in 5-10 years and will start to be noticeably worn out after 3 years of moderate use.

Heating and Air Conditioning: HVAC systems can last 15 to 25 years if taken care of properly. This means changing your filters regularly (every 1 to 3 months), cleaning and adjusting burners and keeping shrubbery around your units trimmed and out of the way.

Roofing: Here is another area where spending more will make a big difference. Copper, slate, clay, or concrete roofs will last 50-100 years. However, most homeowners (70%) have an asphalt shingle roof which will need to be replaced after 20 years, possibly less. Keep your roof in top condition by trimming overhanging trees and keeping valleys free of debris. Also important is good attic ventilation. Good ventilation will prevent roofing material from sustaining damage due to extreme heat in summer and prevents ice dams in winter. If you live where the climate gets very hot, consider installing an attic fan in your roof to pull hot air out of the attic during the summer months. This will also greatly reduce your heating and cooling bill.

When you purchase items for your new home, ask about the difference in life expectancy for items at various price ranges. Often you are saving money over time by spending a little more. However, sometimes, as with many kitchen appliances, spending more doesn’t really increase the lifespan that much.

When you are buying a previously owned house, find out how old things are. Has the HVAC ever been replace? How old is the carpet? When did they replace the roof? This will prepare you for when you will have to replace those items yourself.

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