Home & Garden

Prolong the Life Span of Your Appliances

From the refrigerator to the dishwasher, your home appliances help make life a little more manageable. However, you may not stop to think about how long you’ve owned these devices until it’s too late. Use this guide to learn about the life spans of your home’s appliances and ways you can make them last longer.

How to determine an appliance’s age

If your home came equipped with appliances, you might be a little lost when it comes to knowing exactly how old they are. However, you can look up an appliance’s serial number (usually located inside it) online to determine its age; manufacturers use codes within this number to record the production date.

Appliance life spans

No appliance’s life span is set in stone, and your usage and approach to its upkeep directly affect its performance. However, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) conducted a study to determine the average life spans of everyday appliances. Use the following information to gauge how long, on average, you can expect certain appliances to last and tips for keeping them in good shape.

Dishwasher: nine years

  • Wait until the dishwasher is full before running it to avoid overuse, and don’t overload it to allow for easy cleaning and prevent damaging the unit.
  • Clean the filter regularly by removing it and scrubbing the filter with hot, soapy water.
  • Pre-rinse your dishes before loading to avoid clogs and gunk building up inside the dishwasher.

Microwave: nine years

  • Avoid slamming the microwave’s door, as this can damage the latch mechanisms.
  • Only use microwave-safe dishes, and keep metals out of the microwave.
  • Do not run the microwave when it’s empty.

Washing machine: ten years

  • Make sure the washing machine is on a well-supported, level surface to prevent excessive vibration.
  • Avoid overloading the washing machine to prevent strain on parts like the motor and transmitters, and evenly balance clothing in the drum.
  • Check the pockets of all clothing you’re washing, as metal items like keys or coins can damage the drum.

Garbage disposal: twelve years

  • Use cold water when running the disposal to help keep fats and oils solid as they pass through the system.
  • Allow the disposal to work for an extra minute or two with running water to flush any bits of food away.
  • Do not place hard items, such as bones, popcorn kernels, eggshells, or coffee grounds in the disposal.

Dryer: thirteen years

  • Clean the dryer lint trap after every use.
  • Use a soft cloth and mild cleaner on the inside of the dryer to remove residue from dryer sheets.
  • Clean the dryer vent at least once a year to prevent excessive lint buildup that can develop into a fire hazard.

Refrigerator: thirteen years

  • Avoid overpacking the fridge, as this blocks airflow and may cause damage to the compressor and spoiled food.
  • Clean the condenser coils, located on the back or bottom of the refrigerator, twice a year with a vacuum and a soft-bristle brush attachment.
  • Wipe down the rubber door gaskets with a rag and mild cleanser regularly. Replace the gaskets if they appear worn out or brittle.

Stove: thirteen years (electric) to fifteen years (gas)

  • Wipe down the stovetop daily to avoid an accumulation of grime.
  • Don’t spray cleaning fluid directly on the control panels or knobs, as this may cause corrosion or a short circuit. Instead, use a damp rag with a mild dishwashing liquid to clean these areas.
  • Replace the oven door’s seal if it becomes cracked or frayed to help prevent heat from leaking out.

Repair or replace?

If one of your appliances is on the fritz, you can use the 50-50 rule to help you choose between repairing or replacing it—if the appliance is more than 50 percent through its average life span and the repair costs more than 50 percent of the price of a new model, it may be time to replace it.

Your home warranty may help cover a replacement appliance, regardless of how old it is, if it’s covered in your plan and meets the requirements outlined in your contract. Reasons your warranty won’t cover replacing an appliance include improper installation, lack of maintenance, and any preexisting problems or damages before the warranty came into effect.

You can avoid worrying about repairs by replacing older appliances before they break down. There are certain times throughout the year when appliances may cost less. Many retailers have sales over three-day weekends like Memorial Day, Presidents’ Day, and Labor Day, and there are typically discounts in January when some stores offer sales to offset the sluggishness of post holiday spending. You may also find a deal on an older model when manufacturers release newer versions. Popular months to keep in mind for sales include stoves in January, refrigerators in May, and washers, dryers, and dishwashers in September and October.

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