When you bought your house, the attached appliances were most likely included in the purchase price. But maybe your washing machine is making noises that have you wondering if it’s on its last cycle. Or perhaps you want to replace your aging refrigerator before it fails.

How do you know whether to repair or replace your common household appliances? It helps to know the average life expectancy of your appliances and recognize the signs it might be time to get new ones.

What is the average life expectancy of common household appliances?

Generally, most major appliances last between 10 and 15 years.1 If you’re wondering how long you should expect a particular appliance in your home to live, here’s a look at average appliance life expectancies:1

Appliance Average Life Expectancy (Years)
Air conditioner (central) 7-15
Dishwasher 9
Dryer 13
Electric range 13-15
Freezer 10-20
Furnace 15-25
Gas range 15-17
Gas oven 10-18
Range/oven hood 14
Refrigerator 9-13
Washing machine 5-15
Water heater (conventional) 6-12

The actual lifespan of your appliances, however, depends heavily on how often you use them and how often you, or your home’s previous owners, performed regular appliance maintenance.1

What are the signs it’s time to replace an appliance?

When an appliance breaks down before its predicted expiration, there are two questions to ask:2

  • How often does it need repairing?

  • How much will it cost to repair it?

In some cases, it may just need one quick repair that a professional can handle. Even then, a good rule of thumb is to not spend more than 50 percent of the cost of a new product on repairing an old one that’s less than 50 percent through its life span.3

If an appliance keeps breaking down, it may make more sense to replace it. Here are common signs it may be time to start shopping for a new appliance:4

  • Refrigerator: Food isn’t staying cold. There is excessive condensation inside. The motor is constantly running.

  • Dishwasher: It turns off in the middle of the cycle. It won’t fill or drain completely. It makes strange noises when it’s running.

  • Range: It doesn’t properly regulate the temperature. It won’t heat up all the way. It gets too hot.

  • Washer: It leaks. The drum won’t fill up with water completely. It makes strange noises during its cycle.

  • Dryer: Clothes are still wet after a cycle. The dryer has caught on fire. It makes strange noises during its cycle.

  • Water heater: The water that comes out of the faucet is rusty. There is muddy water or increased sediment in the tank. It makes loud sounds as the water heats. There is leaking water around its base.

Can you just let your appliances fail, or should you replace them before that happens?

There are some appliances that don’t cause too much of an inconvenience when they fail. For instance, if your dishwasher stops working, you can wash your dishes by hand until an appliance repair professional can fix it or a new dishwasher can be installed.

However, if your furnace breaks down during winter and you haven’t been saving for its replacement, you can end up with a larger problem on your hands. Check your owners manual or records to see if your appliance is still under warranty – schedule a service call if it’s still covered.3

For these common household appliances, trying to keep them going as long as possible isn’t always the best way to save money. Newer models with water-saving or energy-efficient features may make more economic (and ecological) sense in the long run.3

After evaluating the status of your appliances, consider reviewing your homeowners policy to see if you need supplemental coverage to protect your property.