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How long will appliances, other home features last?

By Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood writes on Home design, do-it-yourself and real estate for The Charlotte Observer. His column appears each Saturday.

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A hiking buddy asked me how long today’s paint and caulk ought to last. I said it didn’t matter, because he was going to repaint every few years, anyway. Paint will last a lot longer than most of us will live with builder beige, or with colors like puce or plum. (What were we thinking?)

I remember being struck by the same thing after reading a study a few years ago that listed the life expectancies of home appliances and components. I’m betting that most refrigerators get replaced while still working, because somebody falls in love with stainless steel and crushed ice through the door.

Now comes a story from Consumer Reports that says appliances don’t last as long as they used to – and quotes that same study at length.

The study was “Life Expectancy of Home Components,” released in 2007 by the National Association of Home Builders and Bank of America.

I downloaded the report and, indeed, it points out that lots of your home’s components can become obsolete due to changing styles, even though they’re still functional.

I’m just guessing again, but I think the remodeling shows on HGTV have made it even more likely that we will upgrade before we wear things out.

Here’s a look at some tidbits from the study. See what you think. Do your appliances last as long as cited – or even longer? How many home components and features have you replaced long before their useful life was over?

Roof and floor trusses last a lifetime, the study says. That’s a good thing. The study says toilets, not counting the flushing mechanism, last a lifetime, too. Either a lifetime – or until your wife sees a sporty “comfort height” model at Lowe’s.

Carpet lasts 8 to 10 years, depending, I suppose, on how many pets and kids you live with. (Or how often your significant other frequents the carpet aisle.)

Hardwood floors last a lifetime – or until you knock down that wall between the kitchen and family room, and create an open concept space with new flooring throughout.

Electric water heaters last an average of 11 years. We just had a new one installed after 15 years. I flushed it from time to time, and replaced the heating elements.

Refrigerators last 13 years. But the study points out that appliances often get replaced long before they die, because we like the latest styling and technology.

Stoves are the high-fashion appliances in the kitchen. Gas models last 15 years, while electric versions last 13 years. But fashion is fickle – and so are the folks who love the latest stoves.

Dishwashers and microwaves last 9 years.

Paint? The study says interior and exterior paints can last for 15 years or longer, but homeowners often paint more frequently. No mention of puce or plum.

Special to the Observer: homeinfo@charter.net
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