When Should You Replace Appliances?
Learn the average life expectancy of common household appliances, and whether it’s time for repair or replacement.
When you bought your house, the appliances within it were most likely included in the purchase price. But maybe your washing machine is making noises that have you wondering if it’s on its last cycle. Or perhaps you want to replace your aging refrigerator before it fails.
How do you know whether to repair or replace your common household appliances? It helps to know the average life expectancy of your appliances and recognize the signs to get new ones.
What is the average life expectancy of common household appliances?
Generally, most major appliances last between 10 and 15 years.1 If you’re wondering how long to expect a particular appliance in your home to live, here’s a look at average appliance life expectancies:1
|Appliance||Average Life Expectancy (Years)|
|Air conditioner (central)||~15 (but varies)|
|Water heater (conventional)||10-25|
The actual life span of your appliances, however, depends heavily on how often you use them and how often you, or your home’s previous owners, performed regular appliance maintenance.1
What are the signs it’s time to replace an appliance?
When an appliance breaks down before its predicted expiration, there are two questions to ask:
- How often does it need repairing?
- How much will it cost to repair it?
In some cases, it may need one quick repair by a professional. Even then, the general rule of thumb is to not spend 50% of the cost of a new product on repairing an old one that’s fairly new (that is, if it hasn’t hit 50% of its expected life span).2
If an appliance keeps breaking down, it may make more sense to replace it. Here are common signs it may be time to start shopping for a new appliance:3
- Food isn’t staying fresh
- Excessive condensation inside
- Excessive heat on the back of the machine
- Motor constantly runs loud
- Overheating, overcooling and producing odors
- Water leaks
- Makes strange noises when running
- Malfunctioning buttons and doesn’t regulate temperature
- Won’t heat up all the way
- Gas stove is not lighting up
- Electric stove has a crack on tempered glass
- Water leaks
- Drum won’t fill with water completely
- Makes strange noises during cycle
- Clothes are still wet after a cycle
- Lint duct causes a fire
- Makes strange noises during its cycle
- Water coming out is rusty
- There’s muddy water or increased sediment in the tank
- Makes loud sounds as water heats
- There’s leaking water around its base
Can you just let your appliances fail, or should you replace them before that happens?
There are some appliances that don’t cause too much of an inconvenience when they fail. For instance, if your dishwasher stops working, you can wash your dishes by hand until an appliance repair professional fixes it or a new dishwasher is installed.
However, if your furnace breaks down during winter and you haven’t saved for a replacement, you may end up with a larger problem. Check your owner’s manual or records to see if your appliance is still under warranty – and schedule a service call if it’s still covered.3
For these common household appliances, trying to keep them going as long as possible isn’t always the best way to save money. Newer models with water-saving or energy-efficient features may make more economic (and ecological) sense in the long run.4
After evaluating the status of your appliances, consider reviewing your homeowners policy to see if you need supplemental coverage to protect your property.
1 How Long Should Your Appliances Last?, DigitalTrends, 2021.
2 When Should I Replace My Major Appliances?, House Notebook, 2020.
3 The Ultimate Guide on When to Replace Your Household Appliances, Clever, 2021.
4 Efficient Appliances Address Environmental Concerns, Green Builder, 2022.