How Long Will Your Home Last?
One of us is a board member for the homeowner’s association for the community in which he resides. Along with fielding complaints from fellow homeowners regarding barking dogs, noisy neighbors and parking problems; the board is responsible for ensuring that there is enough money on hand to repair or replace the community’s aging building components such as streets, paths, roofing, siding, stone, lighting, landscaping, etc.
It isn’t a bad idea to put some money aside to take care of the repair or replacement of your home’s building components. How long will your roof last? When will your kitchen appliances need to be replaced? Will your furnace make it through another heating season? Knowing the average life expectancy of your home’s building components can help you determine how much to budget to deal with the inevitable.
The National Association of Home Builders together with Bank of America Home Equity recently created a “Life Expectancy of Home Components” study that outlines the longevity of housing components. What follows are some of the reports findings and our tips that can help extend the life of these components. Keep in mind that the projected life of these components depends upon how much use it receives, how well it is maintained and, to some extent, climate.
Appliances are at the top of the list when it comes to frequent use. According to the NAHB study you can expect your gas range to last 15 year; clothes dryers and refrigerators should last about 13 years; microwave ovens and dishwashers 9 years; and the appliance with the highest mortality rate – the trash compactor – with a lifespan of about 6 years.
The best thing that you can do to extend the life of your appliances is to keep them clean. They will operate for efficiently and less stress will be placed on motors and other working parts that will extend their useful life. Keeping your refrigerator’s door gasket clean will make for a better seal, cut down on energy loss and prevent wear and tear on the motor. The same holds true for periodically cleaning the refrigeration coils, which are the appliances means of discharging heat. Clean your dryer’s link filter after each load and periodically sweep the interior of the dryer duct. When it comes to the dishwasher, use it or lose it! The more you utilize the dishwasher the longer it is likely to operate trouble free. Infrequent use causes gaskets to dry out and results in leaks.
Concrete and Masonry
Masonry is one of the most durable components of a home. Chimneys, fireplaces, and brick veneers can last a lifetime, and brick walls have an average life expectancy of more than 100 years. You can extend the life of your fireplace and chimney by burning only seasoned, dry hardwood. Never burn garbage, painted or treated lumber as they can product toxic fumes. Have a chimneysweep inspect your chimney one annually or after burning a cord of wood, whichever comes first. Seal brick, concrete and masonry with a high quality concrete and masonry sealer. This will prevent the material from absorbing water and freeze/thaw damage, which results in spalling and mortar deterioration.
The life expectancy of a wooden deck can vary dramatically depending upon many factors such as climate, sun exposure, deck construction and finish. According to the NAHB study, a deck has a life expectancy of about 20 years – under ideal conditions. We have yet to find “ideal” conditions.
There are a few very common mistakes that people make when it comes to building and maintaining a deck that are sure to hasten its demise. First, the lowest portion of the deck framing should be no less than 8 inches from the soil to prevent rot and pest damage – even if the framing is constructed with more durable pressure treated material. Deck boards should never be face nailed or screwed to the framing as this tears the wood fiber and acts as an entrance source for water to damage both the decking and framing. Using a hidden deck fastener from below will prevent this condition. Keeping a deck clean and preventing debris buildup will not only sustain its appearance, but prevent rot. Most decks need a new coat of finish every three to five years – some more, some less – depending upon specific conditions. Use a high quality penetrating oil deck stain or wood preservative that contains transoxide pigments (to prevent damage from UV) and a mildewcide.
Although the NAHB study finds that exterior fiberglass, steel and wood doors will last as long as the house; fiberglass is the most stable and won’t expand and contract as will steel and won’t crack, check and split as will wood.
Regardless as to the material, the best step that you can take to maintain an exterior door and extend its life is to keep it clean and give it a fresh coat of paint from time to time. Appearance aside, a fresh coat of paint acts as a protective coating that will prevent damage from the elements.
It’s no surprise that wood flooring, marble, granite and slate are the most durable finishes with projected life expectancy of 100 years or more. Although the NAHB study finds that vinyl and linoleum floors will last about 50 and 25 years respectively, we believe that you will grow tired of their appearance and rip them out well before. Average quality carpet is rated to have a life of 8 to 10 years according to the study. When purchasing carpet keep in mind that the better the grade the longer it will last. It is not unusual for good carpet to last 20 to 30 years, though you may grow tired of its appearance well before the end of its useful life.
The best thing that you can do to extend the appearance and lasting quality of flooring is to keep it clean. Carpet should be vacuumed two to three times per week. Don’t use abrasive or harsh cleaners on vinyl, linoleum or hardwood. Regular cleaning with a lightly dampened mop and a touch of vinegar is typically all that’s needed. Removing shoes and leaving them at the door is one of the best things that you can do to improve appearance and life expectancy.
Heating and Air Conditioning
Heating and air conditioning systems typically last between 15 to 25 years. Truth is, advancements in efficiency can make replacement after 10 to 15 years a smart decision.
Until you’re ready for a high efficiency upgrade, you can keep your heating and cooling system in peak operating condition by regularly changing filters (every one to three months), cleaning and adjusting burners and by keeping shrubbery timed surrounding the air conditioner’s condensing unit to allow for proper ventilation.
If you have a slate, copper, clay or concrete roof, chances are good that it will last 50 to 100 years. However, if you are among the 70 percent of American homeowners that have a roof made of clay, be prepared to replace the roof after about 20 years, more or less, or at least hire professional clay roof repair services.
You can extend the life of your roof by keeping it clean. Trim overhanging trees and keep valleys free of debris. Equally important is good attic ventilation. Aside from helping lower your utility bill it can prevent roofing material from sustaining damage due to extreme heat in summer and prevent ice dams in winter.
For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener hot line 24/7 at 1-800-737-2474.