It's easier to make a "fix or replace" decision when you know the life expectancy of major appliances. If you've bought a budget-friendly appliance, you may assume you've gotten your money's worth when you choose to replace it. When you invest in higher-quality appliances from a reputable manufacturer, it's reasonable to consider repairing the unit to get the full return on your investment.
Also, unsuspecting homeowners may have appliances in the home where a manufacturer's or government recall has been issued–meaning their appliance needs immediate repair or part replacement to prevent failure, injury, or fire.
Always fill out the product registration to ensure you'll be notified of any recalls. Also, don’t forget to register for the warranty if necessary.
Life Expectancy of Major Household Appliances
Certainly, there comes a time when the cost to replace an appliance is better than multiple rounds of repairs. Appliance installations average $189 nationally. Regular maintenance and proper operations will extend the life of your appliances to fit a realistic replacement schedule. If you are wondering just how long you should expect your major household appliance to last, consider the following life expectancy statistics:
Life Expectancy by Appliance (in years)
Range & Oven hoods
Dryers (electric and gas)
If you buy a quality household appliance that fails well within its expected life cycle, the solution is to repair rather than replace.
Some homeowners make the mistake of buying inexpensive household appliances to replace rather than repair. While you save money on the original purchase, you can find yourself in an endless cycle of replacing inferior appliances. Not to mention the waste that accumulates.
A better choice is to buy quality appliances, establish a good relationship with a local heating, cooling, and appliance repair service provider, and then have maintenance done as needed–usually well after the end of their expected service life.
Some appliances and repairs are even easy enough to do yourself given the proper tools and know-how:
Which Appliances Need Repair Most Often
Home appliances need repairs for any number of reasons: factory recalls, extra-hard usage, mechanical or electrical failures, accidental impacts, ineffective operation, or it’s simply worn out. According to HomeAdvisor cost guides, most homeowners report spending between $105 and $236 for appliance repair.
Appliances that need repair most often have moving mechanical parts or tend to run for lengthy periods. A refrigerator compressor is designed to run 80% to 90% of the time. But in humid or extremely hot conditions, the runtime may approach 100%. A Consumer Reports survey shows which appliances tend to break faster than others:
- Side-by-side refrigerator/freezers - 36%
- Top-and-bottom refrigerator/freezers - 28%
- Front-load washing machines - 25%
- Dishwashers - 20%
Baby boomers may have fond memories of parents’ and grandparents’ kitchen appliances that seemed to last a lifetime. Those days are gone because the domestic goods industry has opted to replace heavy-duty construction with more advanced features.
Appliance makers would not benefit from products that lasted 20 years or more. Some manufacturers push the design and manufacturing of appliances to overseas companies to increase their bottom-line profits.
Reasons Why Home Appliances Fail
Recalled appliances are a common reason for appliance failure. It is important to register all your home appliances after purchase–from the microwave oven to the new washer/dryer set to the newly installed hot water heater. Appliances that are on the national recall list may pose a serious hazard upon failure. Other recalls can be 'low risk' and may simply make your appliance stop working sooner than expected.
Good maintenance and careful attendance are critical to avoiding home fires started by appliances. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), the following statistics report which contributing factors lead to frequent appliance fires:
- Clothes dryers - dust, fiber, or lint contributed to 27% of home fires (2010-2016)
- Range or cooktop - non-attended operation as cause of structural fire ignition 62% (2011-2015)
- Refrigerators - caused three out of five structure fires (2006-2010)