What comes to mind when you hear the word “replacements?” The 70’s alternative rock band? The Keanu Reeves movie about striking football players? The website where you can find pieces of discontinued china and flatware?
Owning a home?
When you buy a house, your inspection report may describe its different features as adequate, marginal or unsatisfactory and if an item is described as marginal, your inspector may advise you to budget for its replacement.
We all know that nothing lasts forever and many items these days are designed to become obsolete in a relatively short period of time, but good maintenance can go a long way toward prolonging the life of an appliance or system. YouTube is full of “how to” videos about basic plumbing, electrical work, patching, painting and replacing nearly everything under the sun. A quick search for “how to fix everything” on Amazon.com produces more than 1,300 results.
While the Internet provides a wealth of information on being your own handyman or woman, it’s important to know your limitations and when you should call in the professionals. That said, a bit of knowledge about the lifespan of certain household appliances and systems can help you plan for a future purchase or even choose a contractor who won’t try to talk you into a replacement when a repair may be appropriate instead.
Here is a basic cheat sheet to help you budget for replacing certain things around the house.
The Wonder Years (5-10 years): I call these the wonder years because the first time one of these items fails you wonder why you didn’t see it coming. Prolong the inevitable by running a dishwasher periodically so the seals don’t dry out. Wash the filter for a microwave oven and keep batteries handy for smoke detectors. Try out one of the newest replacement security systems; most are wireless and some feature iPad-like devices so you can keep track of who is coming and going on your cell phone. And don’t forget to plan for new wall-to-wall carpet in those high-traffic areas of the home or install hardwood floors which will last much longer.
The Age of Technology (10-15 years): Items in this category are constantly being upgraded for energy efficiency, green features and enhanced performance. Think air conditioning compressors, water heaters, ranges, refrigerators, freezers, garbage disposals, washing machines and dryers. Our washers and dryers now stack, steam, dry clean and do everything but serve you lunch while you wait. Our ranges are often dual fuel and may contain double ovens, microwave drawers, cooktop burners and downdraft exhaust systems. The more features included, the more likely one will fail.
The Fire & Water Era (15-20 years): Has anyone else out there ever huddled by the fire waiting for the furnace technician? While we don’t need to turn up the heat right now, having a service contract for your furnace or heat pump can ensure it will be full of hot air when you need it to be this winter, up until the time that it gasps its dying breath in a decade or two. Jetted tubs have a similar life span and, while the jury may still be out, those tankless water heaters are thought to become thankless water heaters within 20 years.
Active Adulthood (20+ years): If you still have a fire in the furnace does it necessarily follow that there will be snow on the roof? With a little care and attention, your asphalt or modified bitumen roof will last decades and your slate roof, a lifetime. The cast iron boiler in my former home on Capitol Hill was older than I was and both the oak and the heart pine floors had survived for more than a century. While I’m certainly more efficient than that old boiler, no matter how much sanding, buffing and oiling I do to myself, I doubt I’ll outlast those antique floors. How about you?
Prudential PenFed Realty is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.
Valerie M. Blake can be reached at 202-246-8602 or at Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com.