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Home Maintenance Tip: Extend the Expected Lifespan of Home Appliances

Posted on February 25, 2016

Home appliances have entered the digital age. Appliances can track energy use and be controlled by cell phones through Wi-Fi. One model refrigerator has cameras on the inside to inform you of what is in the refrigerator and when it’s time to replenish. Appliances are quieter, more energy efficient and have gadgetry than ever before. But, have these advances in technology come at the expense of life expectancy?

In general, the average lifespan of major home appliances with digital components is 10-15 years as compared to 20-30 years when appliance components were mostly mechanical. In 2013, Consumer Reports reported that 31% of side by side refrigerators, 22% of front-loading washers and 20% of dishwashers fail within the first four years. Appliance repair companies report that 50% of their service calls are due to electronic components. As a consequence of these trends, warranties that previously were five years are now typically just one year.

Components for today’s appliances are made of less resilient materials such as thinner metals and plastic parts. Water and energy saving technology is complicated and make appliances more likely to fail. For example, refrigerators have smaller compressors that make them far more efficient but also more likely to fail. Dishwashers use only 20% of the water that they did a few years ago, but don’t always perform satisfactorily.

More electronics and computers are necessary for new bells and whistles such as LED displays and moisture sensors. Each new function adds an additional electrical circuit and more heat increasing the possibility for failure. Electronic components are also susceptible to power surges and lightning strikes as well.

The lifespan of appliances varies widely based on their quality, how often they are used and whether maintenance is performed. A dishwasher that is used once every day will likely wear out faster than one that is used two times per week.

Here are some basic guidelines on the lifespan of major home appliances:

Dishwasher 9 years
Microwave Oven 9 years
Washer 10 – 14 years
Dryer 10 – 13 years
Electric Range 13 – 17 years
Garbage Disposal 10 – 12 years
Furnace 15 – 20 years
Central Air Conditioner 10 – 15 years
Electric Water Heater 10 – 14 years

To extend the lifespan of your home appliances:

  • Read the owners’ manuals. This task is more important than ever because the care and operation of today’s appliances may be drastically differently than the appliances you may be used to from years ago.
  • Clean appliances. While it may seem obvious, this is often an overlooked task and can affect appliance performance.
  • Perform regular maintenance. Follow the owner’s manual guidance for maintaining appliances to prevent big problems in the future as well as extending their lifespan.
  • Install surge protection. With so many electronic parts, surge protection is important for all home appliances.
  • Consider repairing. When a problem does arise with an appliance, carefully weigh the cost of a repair that will lead to a full lifespan rather than buying a new appliance.


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