Life Expectancy

Life Expectancy

A common question that comes up frequently when inspecting properties is “How much longer will this item last before I need to replace it?”

The answer is not always easy, because the environment in which the item lives and the previous maintenance that has been performed, have an impact on its life expectancy.  I like to refer to a handy chart about life expectancy, for a variety of household components.

The following material was developed for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Economics Department based on a survey of manufacturers, trade associations and product researchers. Many factors affect the life expectancy of housing components and need to be considered when making replacement decisions, including the quality of the components, the quality of their installation, their level of maintenance, weather and climatic conditions, and intensity of their use. Some components remain functional but become obsolete because of changing styles and tastes or because of product improvements. Note that the following life expectancy estimates are provided largely by the industries or manufacturers that make and sell the components listed.

Life Expectancy of Household Components
AppliancesLife in years
Freezers, compact12
Freezers, standard16
Microwave ovens11
Electric ranges17
Gas ranges19
Gas ovens14
Refrigerators, compact14
Refrigerators, standard17
Washers, automatic and compact13
Exhaust fans20

Source: Appliance Statistical Review, April 1990

BathroomsLife in years
Cast iron bathtubs50
Fiberglass bathtub and showers10-15
Shower doors, average quality25

Sources: Neil Kelly Designers, Thompson House of Kitchens and Bath

CabinetryLife in years
Kitchen cabinets15-20
Medicine cabinets and bath vanities20

Sources: Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, Neil Kelly Designers

Closet systemsLife in years
Closet shelvesLifetime
CountertopsLife in years
Ceramic tile, high-grade installationLifetime
Wood/butcher block20+

Sources: AFPAssociates of Western Plastics, Ceramic Tile Institute of America

DoorsLife in years
Interior, hollow coreLess than 30
Interior, solid core30-lifetime
Exterior, protected overhang80-100
Exterior, unprotected and exposed25-30
Garage doors20-50
Garage door opener10

Sources: Wayne Dalton Corporation, National Wood Window and Door Association, Raynor Garage Doors

ElectricalLife in years
Copper wiring, copper plated, copper clad aluminum, and bare copper100+
Armored cable (BX)Lifetime

Source: Jesse Aronstein, Engineering Consultant

Finishes used for waterproofingLife in years
Paint, plaster, and stucco3-5
Sealer, silicone, and waxes1-5
Source: Brick Institute of America Floors
FloorsLife in years
Oak or pineLifetime
Slate flagstoneLifetime
Vinyl sheet or tile20-30
Carpeting (depends on installation, amount of traffic, and quality of carpet)11
Marble (depends on installation, thickness of marble, and amount of traffic)Lifetime+

Sources: Carpet and Rug Institute, Congoleum Corporation, Hardwood Plywood Manufacturers Association, Marble Institute, National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association, National Wood Flooring Association, Resilient Floor Covering Institute

Footings and foundationLife in years
Poured footings and foundations200
Concrete block100
Waterproofing, bituminous coating10
Termite proofing (may have shorter life in damp climates)5

Source: WR Grace and Company

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)Life in years
Central air conditioning unit (newer units should last longer)15
Window unit10
Air conditioner compressor15
Electric water heater14
Gas water heater (depends on type of water heater lining and quality of water)11-13
Forced air furnaces, heat pump15
Rooftop air conditioners15
Boilers, hot water or steam (depends on quality of water)30
Furnaces, gas- or oil-fired18
Unit heaters, gas or electric13
Radiant heaters, electric10
Radiant heaters, hot water or steam25
Baseboard systems20
Diffusers, grilles, and registers27
Induction and fan coil units20
Centrifugal fans25
Axial fans20
Ventilating roof-mounted fans20
DX, water, and steam coils20
Electric coils15
Heat Exchangers, shell-and-tube24
Molded insulation20
Pumps, sump and well10

Sources: Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration News, Air Movement and Control Association, American Gas Association, American Society of Gas Engineers, American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc., Safe Aire Incorporated

Home security appliancesLife in years
Intrusion systems14
Smoke detectors12
Smoke/fire/intrusion systems10
InsulationLife in years
For foundations, roofs, ceilings, walls, and floorsLifetime
Sources: Insulation Contractors Association of America, North American Insulation Manufacturers Association
LandscapingLife in years
Wooden decks15
Brick and concrete patios24
Tennis courts10
Concrete walks24
Gravel walks4
Asphalt driveways10
Swimming pools18
Sprinkler systems12
Sources: Associated Landscape Contractors of America, Irrigation Association
MasonryLife in years
Chimney, fireplace, and brick veneerLifetime
Brick and stone walls100+
Sources: Brick Institute of America, Architectural Components, National Association of Brick Distributors, National Stone Association
MillworkLife in years
Stairs, trim50-100
Disappearing stairs30-40
Paints and stainsLife in years
Exterior paint on wood, brick, and aluminum7-10
Interior wall paint (depends on the acrylic content)5-10
Interior trim and door paint5-10
Sources: Finnaren and Haley, Glidden Company, The Wall Paper
PlumbingLife in years
Waste piping, cast iron75-100
Sinks, enamel steel5-10
Sinks, enamel cast iron25-30
Sinks, china25-30
Faucets, low quality13-15
Faucets, high quality15-20
Sources: American Concrete Pipe Association, Cast Iron Soil and Pipe Institute, Neil Kelly Designers, Thompson House of Kitchens and Baths
RoofingLife in years
Asphalt and wood shingles and shakes15-30
Tile (depends on quality of tile and climate)50
Slate (depends on grade)50-100
Sheet metal (depends on gauge of metal and quality of fastening and application)20-50+
Built-up roofing, asphalt12-25
Built-up roofing, coal and tar12-30
Asphalt composition shingle15-30
Asphalt overlag25-35
Source: National Roofing Contractors Association
Rough structureLife in years
Basement floor systemsLifetime
Framing, exterior and interior wallsLifetime
Source: NAHB Research Foundation
ShuttersLife in years
Wood, interiorLifetime
Wood, exterior (depends on weather conditions)4-5
Vinyl plastic, exterior7-8
Aluminum, interior35-50
Aluminum, exterior3-5
Sources: A.C. Shutters, Inc., Alcoa Building Products, American Heritage Shutters
SidingLife in years
Gutters and downspouts30
Siding, wood (depends on maintenance)10-100
Siding, steel50-Lifetime
Siding, aluminum20-50
Siding, vinyl50
Sources: Alcoa Building Products, Alside, Inc., Vinyl Siding Institute
Walls and window treatmentsLife in years
Drywall and plaster30-70
Ceramic tile, high grade installationLifetime
Sources: Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries International, Ceramic Tile Institute of America
WindowsLife in years
Window glazing20
Wood casement20-50
Aluminum and vinyl casement20-30
Sources: Best Built Products, Optimum Window Manufacturing, Safety Glazing Certification Council, Screen Manufacturers Association