How Long Will Your Applicances Last?
Regardless of how perfect your home was when you purchased it, sooner or later everything will need replacing. Assuming the job was done right the first time and routine maintenance is performed, the home is bound to last a lot longer than it would otherwise. The absence of regular maintenance can lead to repair work which can be both costly and inconvenient.
The “if it ain’t broke” philosophy may be prudent in some situations, but not when it comes to one’s home. The average home consists of literally thousands of mechanisms from window hardware to water heaters. With a little regular care and maintenance, the useful life of these items can be extended indefinitely. Also, they will usually operate more efficiently which can mean a more palatable utility bill. Moreover, if you wait until an item is broken, the results can be devastating.
For example, the average water heater should last about a dozen years. This limited life could be easily doubled with regular maintenance such as flushing sediment from the bottom of the tank and replacing the sacrificial anode. More importantly, a water heater with a leaking tank can cause rot and structural damage to floor framing. This condition can dramatically change the complexity and cost of the repair from a few hundred dollars for a new water heater to several thousand dollars for damage repairs. What’s ironic is that for less than ten dollars a year in maintenance cost, the “disaster” could likely have been avoided.
The water heater is just one example. A furnace, roof, siding, asphalt driveway, wood deck, air conditioning, washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator and microwave are several of the many elements of a home which lasting quality can be extended with regular repair and maintenance.
Statistics show that a furnace has a useful life of about 20 years. If you have an old inefficient model, it’s not a bad idea to allow it to die a peaceful death so that it can be replaced with a new more energy efficient model. In fact, if you are less than comfortable in your home or your utility bill is going through the roof during the home heating season, you may want to consider retiring the old model early. In any case, regular cleaning and replacement of furnace filters, motor lubrication and annual inspection of the burners and heat exchanger are a must to safe and efficient operation.
The lasting quality of a roof has much to do with what its makeup. An asphalt shingle roof will last about 15 years where a slate roof can last 60 or more years. There are a few steps that one can take to maximize the life of a roof. The first is to keep the roof clean and debris free. Debris on a roof can inhibit proper water shed allowing water to back up between the shingles damaging roof sheathing and resulting in leaks. Also, metal flashings should periodically be cleaned and painted to prevent rust. Enough can’t be said for the importance of ventilation in the attic. Proper ventilation can prevent rot from occurring at the underside of the roof which would necessitate its removal and replacement. Finally, the life of a wood roof can be extending with periodic cleaning and oiling with a shingle and floor oil.
Asphalt can really take a beating. It is quite susceptible to damage by temperature extremes. The experts state that an asphalt driveway should have a life of about 20 years. Good luck! It’ll never make it past five without ongoing maintenance. One of the most common problems with asphalt is cracking. Cracks of any size should be sealed annually. While there are asphalt caulking products, one of the most effective means of repairing cracks is with a mixture of sand and emulsified asphalt. Pack the mixture into the crack. The entire surface should be coated with emulsified asphalt every three to five years.
The statistics we have show that a wood deck can last up to 50 years. Right! And humans can live to 120. It’s all relative. If you get a good twenty to twenty-five years out of your wood deck consider yourself lucky. Actually, it will take a lot more than luck for a deck to last that long. The longevity of a deck starts with its construction. Wood and water don’t mix. Therefore, the deck should be constructed of a material that will offer the greatest natural resistance to rot and decay such as redwood or cedar. Although we don’t prefer material pressure treated with a pesticide for the deck boards, we strongly recommend that it be used for the framing. It is essential that the design allow for the lowest point of the deck to reside at a minimum of eight inches above the earth.
If you really want your deck to last a long time, prefinish the deckboards before they are installed. Make a dipping trough out of a couple of layers of six mil plastic sheeting. Fill the trough with several gallons of a high quality penetrating oil finish and place the lumber in the bath for several minutes. Wipe off the excess and allow the material to air dry for a day or so on a couple of say horses. The real advantage to this process is that ALL sides are coated, especially the butt ends which are most susceptible to damage due to their water wicking characteristics.
Consumer surveys report that the longevity of most household appliances ranges from twelve to fifteen years. We can remember the old Wedgwood stove that one of our Aunts had which was well into it’s thirties. The same was true for another Aunt who had an automatic cloths washer that was thirty-something before she replaced it. Examples such as these can be pretty rare. Due to the complex composition of most modern appliances, there isn’t much that a consumer can do to influence lasting quality. However, when it comes to appliances; “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Appliance repair experts agree that cleaning is one of the most important tasks that a consumer can perform which can extend the life of an appliance.
Coils are a common component on air conditioners and refrigerators. These coals can become covered with dust and lint causing them to overheat which makes the appliance work harder. These coils should periodically be vacuumed and wiped down with a damp cloth.
Lint filters in cloths washers and dryers should be cleaned regularly. Lint buildup, especially in the dryer, can cause the appliance to work several times harder which can significantly reduce it life. Also, it is imperative that a dryer be properly vented and that the vent is free and clear. Any lint or debris buildup within the vent should be removed via periodic cleanings using a coat hanger and a vacuum cleaner.