Every homeowner knows they will need to eventually make repairs and replacements around their house. From the roof to the water heater to the windows, everything wears down eventually.
It is important to stay on top of those repairs and replacements. There are many that are easy to overlook. The roof is one many people think of first. Many homeowners may know their house roof lifespan but not their water heater lifespan.
Sometimes, repairs and replacements can be done by the homeowner. Plenty of these projects fall well within DIY territory. However, if that is the route you choose to go, it is important to know your limitations and comfort level. Less than a third, 31%, of homeowners say their DIY projects were completed without any major problems. That’s not the most optimistic success rate.
Something like a roof isn’t a great candidate for DIY. In addition to being difficult, it also may be dangerous. However, there are lots of other projects you can do yourself. Here, we will break down the lifespan of 6 fixtures around the home and talk a little about how you should go about replacing them.
1. The Roof
The average house roof lifespan is 25 years. That’s about the mid-line as far as house fixtures go, so we’ll be comparing the rest of our fixtures to this “average” of 25 years.
Of course, this is not a universal truth. To know how long your roof will last, you should talk to the builder or previous owner. Some roofs may last longer. Some may not last quite as long. A house roof lifespan, like the lifespan of all of these fixtures, depends on a lot of factors, and slapping down one number and claiming it holds true for all homes everywhere simply is not true.
For example, the weather can have a big impact on how long your roof lasts. If you live in a place with especially harsh weather, you may need to replace your roof sooner. Doing roof repairs as soon as you notice any damage may help mitigate this, but your roof will still be under more stress than it would be if you lived somewhere with nicer weather.
2. The Windows
Your windows should slightly beat the house roof lifespan of 25 years. Typically, windows will last 30 years or more.
You can extend that lifespan even further by cleaning out the window tracks twice a year. This prevents junk from building up that will make replacement windows necessary. Regular cleaning like this can prevent some of the problems, like stuck tracks, that would force you to replace the windows.
Once again, the weather is a factor here. However, windows do not typically take the same kind of beating as the roof. The house roof lifespan is heavily impacted by rain, snow, wind, and other natural factors. While windows also experience the elements, they don’t quite take the brunt of it in the same way. So while the weather where you live can certainly wear down your roof quickly, it may not pack the same punch where your windows are concerned.
3. The Pipes
Plumbing is a tricky topic because it is not a single fixture like the roof or the windows. The plumbing encompasses several interconnected fixtures throughout your home, but a fault in one of them can result in a fault in all of them.
The most obvious bit of plumbing is our faucets and fixtures. These we can see, clean, and repair rather easily. Even so, they will not live up to a house roof lifespan. Faucets tend to last about 15 years, but cleaning out hard water can help prevent clogs and keep them healthy.
The other end of the scale are the pipes themselves, which far outlast a house roof lifespan. Your pipes can last from 20 to 100 years. That’s a huge range, but it is due to the material the pipes are made of. Galvanized steel pipes last 20 to 50 years, while brass supply pipes reach 40 to 70 years.
The real heavy hitters are cast iron and PVC. Cast-iron drain lines can last 75 to 100 years, but that’s nothing compared to PVC, which may never need a replacement at all. A builder or previous owner may be able to tell you what types of pipes you have throughout your house so you can know what to expect in terms of lifespan for various bits of plumbing.
4. The Sump Pump
Not everyone has or needs a sump pump, so this is a bit of a specialty. However, if you do have one you should be aware of its lifespan and when it will need to be replaced.
If you have a sump pump, there are a few ways to tell if it needs to be replaced. One is simply its age. Unlike the house roof lifespan of 25 years, a sump pump only lasts about 10. If your pump is 10 years old or older, it is probably time to switch it out.
There will likely be other signs that it is wearing out. For example, you might not see any water in the pit. That could be a problem with the installation or drainage, such as a clog. Clogs are a bad sign in general and often mean your pump is on its last legs.
Another sign is noise. If your pump is getting noisy when it runs, especially if you hear thuds, grinding, or rattling, it may be time for a replacement. It also might simply be running too often. This can hinge on your unique circumstances. The pump is there to clear out water. If you are in a very rainy area in a wet part of the year, your pump could be working overtime just to try to keep up. Continual flooding is not a great thing for the pump or your home, however, and could indicate a larger problem.
5. The Water Heater
Water heater replacement does not need to happen as frequently these days as it used to. The water heaters of today are far better than their predecessors and therefore can last a bit longer.
However, that still does not make them invincible. Even today’s water heaters tend to last about 10 years or so. The range is different depending on whether you have a gas water heater or an electric one. Gas will last eight to 12 years and electric will last 10 to 15 years.
This all hinges on proper maintenance, of course. Like a house roof lifespan, a water heater lifespan can be extended or shortened depending on how well you take care of it. That means regular maintenance and repairs, including, draining, inspection and flushing.
Your water heater will offer you some clues when its time is nearly up. You might notice a rumbling or gurgling sound coming from the machine. That is not a good sign for the longevity of your machine. Rusty or cold water is another signal that your water heater may be nearing the end of its lifespan. Brownish water means something somewhere in the system is rusty and that could be really bad. Likewise, if the machine is no longer managing to heat water, it could be past its prime.
As with a roof, a water heater can leak or crack. This is a sign of age and wear and tear that may mean the machine needs to retire. Water damage from leaks and cracks can spill out into your entire home, so if you are seeing signs of this, repair or replace your water heater as soon as you can.
6. The Furnace
When the weather turns cold and nasty, we turn to our furnaces. They keep us warm and can even help keep the structure of the house more intact. A home constantly at a lower temperature will take a rougher beating from that winter weather than one kept at a stable temperature.
All of this means our furnaces are under a lot of stress, which may make you expect that they have a rather short lifespan. However, the reality is that they are similar to a house roof lifespan, if just shy. The typical furnace replacement should happen 15 to 20 years after the furnace is first installed.
Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t know how old their furnace is, making knowing when to replace it tricky. With a house roof lifespan, you can often get that information from a home inspector. With a furnace, however, you’ll probably be looking for signs of wear and tear.
One of the easiest ways to tell that you need a new furnace is your energy bill. If you see it ticking up, it could be because your system is old and inefficient. You also might notice uneven heating throughout your home or bad air quality. If you’ve tried repairing these things but the problems just return, it could sadly be the end for your current furnace.
Bonus 1: What to Look for When Buying
This may seem like a tangent, but knowing about the age of various fixtures can be a big deal when you are buying a house. This is a major purchase you are making. Finding out after a year or two or five that you suddenly need a new furnace or your house roof lifespan isn’t what you assumed it was can be a major hit to your budget.
A home inspection can help. When you are buying, an inspection will be a necessary part of the process. Make sure during that inspection that you are asking about these fixtures. You have every right to get all the information you want or need from this process.
This information not only could help you in making your buying decision, but it will be useful once you live in the home. Some buyers may feel shy or awkward asking for such detailed information, but it is the inspector’s job to tell you the state of the home you are looking at purchasing. You are well within your rights to ask for the information you need in order to make an informed decision.
Another tip: Don’t just go by the age of the home itself. The house might be old, but the previous owners may have recently upgraded the fixtures. Likewise, a house could look brand new but have never upgraded anything. You simply don’t know unless you ask. The age of the structure does not always indicate the health or age of the fixtures.
Bonus 2: Don’t Just Repair. Renovate
This last tip is for the truly ambitious among us. You could see the need to repair or replace a fixture as an opportunity for home remodeling or renovation.
Why stick to merely replacing your roof when you could completely rethink roofing altogether? The average house roof lifespan is 25 years, but what if you got solar panels? Or even a green roof? There are so many more options out there today than just shingles and tiles. If you have the ambition, and cash, you could totally rethink your roofing.
The same goes for something like your plumbing. Plumbing runs throughout your entire home, so having to replace or fix some of it could mean a major overhaul. Maybe you don’t simply hire plumbers for the job, but also a home renovation service that could completely transform part of your home.
Repairs are a necessary evil when it comes to owning a home. They are not glamorous or fun, but if you have the ambition for it, you could turn it into a larger project that also transforms part of your home. You could make a bathroom into a personal spa or a roof into an energy-saving green machine. There are so many options and opportunities if you know where to look while replacing the fixtures around your home.
There is nothing wrong with simply replacing fixtures when the time comes, either. Homeowners have enough to worry about without adding a major renovation to the list. However, if you’ve been thinking about renovating, you might also take a look at your home fixtures and see if you can knock out both tasks at once.