Life Expectancy of Home Components

The National Association of Home Builders put out a study on the expected longevity of home components. Here are their findings. Click here to read the entire report. (Compliments of David Verge, Home Inspector, Verge Construction Consulting and Inspection Services, 604-839-9702)

Appliances
The life expectancy of a typical appliance depends to a great extent on the use it receives.Moreover, appliances are often replaced long before they are worn out because changes in styling, technology and consumer preferences make newer products more desirable. Of the major appliances in a home, gas ranges have the longest life expectancy: 15 years. Dryers and refrigerators last about 13 years. Some of the appliances with the shortest lifespan are: compactors (6 years), dishwashers (9 years) and microwave ovens (9 years).

Cabinetry and Storage
Kitchens are becoming larger and more elaborate, and together with the family room, modern kitchens now form the "great room." Great rooms are not only a place to cook, but also a space there people gather to read, eat, do homework, surf the Internet and pay bills. Kitchen cabinets are expected to last up to 50 years, medicine cabinets for 20+ years, and garage/laundry cabinets for 100+ years. Closet shelves are expected to last for a lifetime.

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.

Countertops
Natural stone countertops, which are less expensive than a few years ago, are gaining in popularity and are expected to last a lifetime. Cultured marble countertops have a life expectancy of about 20 years.

Decks
Because they are subject to a wide range of conditions in different climates, the life expectancy of wooden decks can vary significantly. Under ideal conditions, they have a life expectancy of about 20 years.

Doors
Exterior fiberglass, steel and wood doors will last as long as the house exists, while vinyl and screen doors have a life expectancy of 20 and 40 years, respectively. Closet doors are expected to last a lifetime, and French doors have an average life of 30 to 50 years.

Electrical and Lighting
Copper plated wiring, copper clad aluminum, and bare copper wiring are expected to last a lifetime, whereas electrical accessories and lighting controls are expected to last 10+ years.

Engineered Lumber
Floor and roof trusses and laminated strand lumber are expected to last a lifetime, and engineered trim is expected to last 30 years.

Faucets and Fixtures
Kitchen sinks made of modified acrylic will last 50 years, while kitchen faucets will work properly for about 15 years. The average life of bathroom shower enclosures is 50 years. Showerheads last a lifetime, while shower doors will last about 20 years. Bath cabinets and toilets have an unlimited lifespan, but the components inside the toilet tank do require some maintenance. Whirlpool tubs will function properly for 20 to 50 years, depending on use.

Flooring
All natural wood floorings have a life expectancy of 100 years or more. Marble, slate, and granite are also expected to last for about 100 years, but can last less due to a lack of maintenance. Vinyl floors last up to 50 years, linoleum about 25 years, and carpet between 8 and 10 years (with appropriate maintenance and normal traffic).

Footings and Foundations
Poured as well as concrete block footings and foundations last a lifetime, assuming they were properly built. Termite proofing of foundations will last about 12 years if the chemical barriers put in place during construction are left intact. Waterproofing with bituminous coating lasts 10 years, but if it cracks it is immediately damaged. Concrete or cast iron waste pipes are expected to last 100 years or more.

Framing and Other Structural Systems
Framing and structural systems have extended longevities: poured-concrete systems, timber frame houses and structural insulated panels will all last a lifetime. Wall panels and roof and floor trusses will similarly last a lifetime. Softwood, hardboard, and plywood last an average of 30 years, while OSB and particleboard are expected to function properly for 60 years.

Garages
Garage door openers are expected to last 10 to 15 years, and light inserts for 20 years.

Home Technology
Home technology systems have various life expectancies. While a built-in audio system will last 20 years, security systems and heat/smoke detectors have life expectancies of 5 to 10 years. Wireless home networks and home automation systems are expected to work properly for more than 50 years.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems require proper and regular maintenance in order to work efficiently, but even in the best case scenarios most components of such systems only last 15 to 25 years. Furnaces on average last 15-20 years, heat pumps 16 years, and air conditioning units 10-15 years. Tankless water heaters last more than 20 years, while an electric or gas water heater has a life expectancy of about 10 years. Thermostats usually are replaced before the end of their 35-year lifespan due to technological improvements.

Insulation and Infiltration Barriers
As long as they are not punctured, cut, or burned and are kept dry and away from UV rays, the cellulose, fiberglass, and foam used in insulation materials will last a lifetime. This is true whether the insulation was applied as loose fill, house wrap, or batts/rolls.

Molding and Millwork
Custom millwork will last a lifetime, and all stairs - circular and spiral stairs, prebuilt stairs and attic stairs - are expected to last a lifetime.

Paint, Caulks and Adhesives
Both interior and exterior points can last for 15 years or longer, however home owners often paint more frequently.

Panels
Hardboard panels and softwood panels are expected to last 30 years, while oriented strand board and particleboard have a life expectancy of 25-30 years. Wall panels are expected to last a lifetime.

Roofing
The life of a roof depends on local weather conditions, proper building and design, material quality, and adequate maintenance. Slate, copper, and clay/concrete roofs have the longest life expectancy - over 50 years. Roofs made of asphalt shingles last for about 20 years while roofs made of fiber cement shingles have a life expectancy of about 25 years, and roofs made of wood shakes can be expected to last for about 30 years.

Siding and Accessories
Outside materials typically last a lifetime. Brick, vinyl, engineered wood, stone (both natural and manufactured), and fiber cement will last as long the house exists. Exterior wood shutters are expected to last 20 years, depending on weather conditions. Gutters have a life expectancy of more than 50 years if made of copper and for 20 years if made of aluminum. Copper downspouts last 100 years or more, while aluminum ones will last 30 years.

Site and Landscaping
Most landscaping elements have a life expectancy of 15 to 25 years. Sprinklers and valves last about 20 years, while underground PVC piping has a lifespan of 25 years. Polyvinyl fences are designed to last a lifetime, and asphalt driveways should last between 15 and 20 years. Tennis courts can last a lifetime if recoated; most coatings last 12 to 15 years. The concrete shell of a swimming pool is expected to last over 25 years, but the interior plaster and tile have life expectancies of about 10 to 25 years.

Walls, Ceilings and Finishes
Walls and ceilings last the full lifespan of the home.

Windows and Skylights
Aluminum windows are expected to last between 15 and 20 years while wooden windows should last upwards of 30 years.

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Posted by Craig B Rushton, CENTURY 21 In Town Realty, 604.505.6503, www.craigrushton.com

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