How long will my water heater last? How long do you think the air conditioner will last before I have to replace it? When do you think I will have to replace my roof? How much longer do you think the decking will last? How long will the paint last on the exterior of my home? The heating unit is 20 years old, should I replace it?
These are just a few of the questions that I am asked on a regular basis. If I knew the answers to these questions I wouldn't be a home inspector but instead playing blackjack in Vegas.
When I'm asked, I use guidelines in determining how long an appliance will last. I make sure to tell my client that this is exactly what it is, a guideline. I have had a roof on my home that was original to the house, 32 years old, and worked as intended. It did not leak nor was there any sheathing decay. Granted, granules were missing, vent boots had to be replaced but the fields of the roof were working. Notice I didn't talk about how good it looked.
When talking about longevity, we have to talk about advances in technology. I inspected a home where the heating unit was over 50 years old. The serial number of the unit was 025, obviously one of the first right off of the assembly line. This unit was a beast. This was the biggest heating unit I ever saw for a home that was 1200 square feet in size. It did fire up when I set the thermostat and it produced heat as intended but at what cost.
It is not my place to tell clients how long something will last because I truly do not know. I will give them estimates and discuss the energy efficiency of new models. If it works, it works. When deciding on replacement of a system or a cost to repair it, it is important to take into account the energy efficiency of the existing system and how well the system has been maintained.
We all have our own cost pain threshold when it comes to cost of replacement versus repair. When making the decision, think of energy efficiency, which could reduce the overall cost with years of energy savings. The link provided is to the National Association of Home Builders. This will give you an idea of guidelines for appliance and system life. This is by no means the only list of its kind. Many organizations have there own guidelines but this will give you a start in determining life expectancy of home components. http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_details.aspx?contentID=72475.
Instead of thinking how long something is going to last, it is important to maintain a system at peak efficiency. Whether that means keeping your gutters clean, cleaning debris off of your roof, changing your air filters, testing our water heater TPR valve or testing your GFCI's, the more we do to keep our systems running at peak performance, the better off we will be in the long run. And Why Not?
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