Not all appliances are the same, and some will last you longer than others. Ou guide will give you a good idea of the lifetime you should expect from each of your appliances.
We’ll consider many different factors, from the price of the appliances to the common mistakes that people make, which in turn make them break down. That being said, there are certain factors like the manufacturer, the parts, and just plain old luck that might play a major role in how long an appliance lasts.
We've collected review data from several different online marketplaces and analysed the lifetime of some common products according to reviews. We’ve also compiled many common complaints and the biggest issues in each appliance that lead to them breaking down. We’ll mention this information for each item so that you’ll know what to look out for regarding issues that might lead to your device breaking down a lot sooner than you might have expected.
Average Lifespan: 5 - 15 years
Refrigerators get opened very frequently, which causes the door seals to loosen and stop sticking after a while. Loose door seals can lead to the door opening by itself and the refrigerator wasting power for nothing.
This also causes the thermostat to detect that the temperature has risen and overworks the motor in order to compensate. Replacing your door seals is cheap, takes all of 20 minutes, and can help keep your refrigerator in tip-top shape for many years of use.
You might also want to clean the underside and the back of the fridge as well. The motor and the coil are underneath, and keeping them clean and free of dust can allow them to work at optimal levels without overheating or causing any issues.
Refrigerators are particularly tricky appliances to gauge when it comes to how long they’ll last. A good high-end model will last you well over a decade if you clean it and don’t forget to close the door, whereas a cheaper model will quit on you in less than half a decade.
The good news is that parts for these appliances are generally cheap, so replacing the components on a high-end model won’t cost you too much. On the other hand, the lower-end models are well worth the modest amount of money you spend on them, even if you replace them only after five years.
Average Lifespan: 5 - 10 years
Dishwashers get filled with scraps and leftovers that stick in the filters and the water jets and cause them to clog up. If left unattended, this buildup of food particles can lead to trouble down the line, so it should be taken care of at least once a week or once every two weeks at most.
Cleaning out your dishwasher is remarkably easy, and even if you aren’t capable of thoroughly cleaning it as suggested, just emptying out the filter at the bottom and cleaning out the water jets can help keep your dishwasher working properly for a long time with no issues.
These appliances have a lot of moving parts, so it’s pretty common for one or more of them to fail or break. The good news is that all of the dishwasher components, from the racks to the inlet valves, are incredibly easy to find and ridiculously cheap. This can allow you to replace the faulty components in order to keep the dishwasher itself working for years on end.
The problem comes with the electrical components. While the mechanical parts are cheap, the electrical components aren’t. Replacing electrical components on higher-end washing machines is a better option than replacing the washing machine itself, but if the appliance is relatively inexpensive, then you’d be better off replacing it entirely rather than switching out certain items inside it.
Average Lifespan: 10 - 20 years
There’s a slight difference when it comes to electric and gas-powered ovens. High-end electrical models will usually last for up to 15 years, whereas the gas-powered models have been known to go for a few more years beyond that.
This mostly comes as a result of the fans and electronic panels that the electric models use, which have been known to break down frequently. The gas stoves have fewer moving parts, and most of them are generally pretty cheap.
Speaking of parts, ovens are considered so long-lived because of these very components and how easily they can be replaced (except for the electrical panels that we just mentioned). An oven only becomes unusable when the overall appliance starts falling apart due to decades of use.
Make sure that you clean your oven as often as you can so that it doesn’t get clogged up and have grease and fat seep into the heating elements. Aside from that, you should have no issue getting your oven to work for more than two decades as long as you regularly replace the components that break down.
Average Lifespan: 3 - 8 years
While certain microwaves come with many features and cost several thousands of dollars, most microwave models are relatively cheap. This means that while these are some of the most short-lived items that you can find in your home, they won’t cost all that much when you eventually need to replace them.
You should get more than five years of use out of your microwave if you use it once a day or so. Using it several times a day can shorten that lifespan to around three years.
We’re not saying that a microwave will break down and be unrepairable in just a few years, but that it’s likely to develop problems with one of its components in that amount of time. In most cases, getting a new microwave is only slightly more expensive than replacing the components themselves.
The ultimate decision on whether you replace or repair a broken microwave is up to you, but most prefer to start fresh rather than try to fix something that has several electrical issues.
Average Lifespan: 5 - 15 years
Generally speaking, washing machines are the most expensive appliances that a household can have. They cost a lot of money to buy and run, and many common issues crop up, possibly causing them to break down. On the other hand, this also means that washing machine repair shops are quite common as well, as are the components.
The issues that come up when washing machines break down sound serious, but you can usually solve them pretty easily. The pump can stop working, but it’s easy to replace; the door can start leaking, but all you need to do is replace the seals; even a drum that doesn’t spin might just need a new belt before it can work again.
The point is that, with the prices of washing machines being what they are, and with how common the replacement components are, fixing your washing machine should always be your first course of action, even if the appliance in question is more than ten years old.
Cleaning them won’t extend their lifespan, but calling a repairman as soon as a problem arises is always a good idea. If you manage to fix or replace the faulty component in time, your machine should work just fine for years without any issues.
Average Lifespan: 5 - 15 years
Dryers are almost identical to washing machines in terms of component accessibility, though certain models are much cheaper than most washing machine models. However, there are differences between different types of dryers that could cause problems.
For example, vented dryers are relatively simple and have many electrical and mechanical parts, but they can be fixed and maintained with relative ease. On the other hand, heat pump dryers are much more expensive, the parts aren’t as common, and they generally have electrical component failures that cause a lot of issues.
Getting a high-end dryer is beneficial because it’s likely to last longer, but an unexpected issue will set you back quite a bit of cash. On the flip side, a cheaper model might break down more easily, but it’ll be much easier to fix.
You can keep replacing the components on a cheap dryer for a decade without issue, and while you can do the same for the more expensive models, we’d suggest getting an estimate on the price of the parts and the repairs since it might actually be cheaper to buy a whole new dryer in some cases.
Average Lifespan: 3 - 7 years
Air conditioners come in a wide variety of different price ranges and models, but most of the time, they aren’t too expensive, especially in regard to the other appliances we mentioned. While they’re tricky to fix or replace sometimes, they’re easy to maintain and keep in proper working order for as long as possible.
Clogged filters and fans are the two main issues that air conditioners suffer from frequently, and they can both be avoided by simply taking out the filters every once in a while and getting rid of the accumulated dust.
The problem is that issues with the cooling system, the electrical components, or the inboard computer can lead to much more expensive issues that might not be worth fixing. The nature of such repairs also makes them too difficult for you to handle on your own, which means that you’ll need a repairman for any issue, and that can get costly.
Average Lifespan: 2 - 6 years
There are many different types of portable heaters. There are models that work on an electrically powered heating element, models that heat up water to generate heat, and models that essentially work as a small AC unit.
In general, you can assume that the amount of money you spend on a heater will be directly proportional to the amount of time that it’ll last you. This isn’t always true, and there are unexpected issues that can arise and shorten that time significantly. However, it’s usually true that the portable units that only cost a few hundred dollars are only good for two or three years of use at most.
There’s really no way to maintain most of these units, and the electrical parts that can break in the more advanced models are definitely too costly to even consider replacing. We’d recommend just sticking to the more wallet-friendly units and simply replacing them when a major issue occurs.
Average Lifespan: 3 - 15 years
The lifetime of your vacuum cleaner will be severely affected by how often and how well you clean and maintain it. These appliances take in vast amounts of dust, dirt, and debris, and all of it has the potential to clog up the insides, causing trouble if left in the vacuum for too long.
Luckily, thoroughly cleaning a vacuum cleaner is very easy. All you need to do is dedicate around 10 - 20 minutes after each vacuuming session to make sure that you’ve collected all of the dust from the bag so that it can’t clog up the mechanical parts. Just this can prolong the lifetime of your vacuum by as much as a decade.
The components are cheap and easy to replace, and there are rarely issues that can’t be fixed, aside from something like the body itself being too damaged to glue back together.
Standing vacuums sometimes cost a bit more to repair due to their parts being slightly less common. Their body can also get damaged a lot more easily from accidentally toppling over and slamming on the ground. That’s not to say that these units are a bad investment, just that they might have a slightly shorter lifespan than your regular vacuum models, and they might be a bit more expensive to fix.
The answer to the question of “how long should appliances last?” was never going to be a simple one. While we’re confident in the estimates that we’ve given here, it’s never an exact science, and the models, manufacturers, and overall make of the devices are all factors that are going to play a significant role in how long you’ll be able to get any use out of an appliance.
Cheaper appliances are pretty easy to replace. You’d be better off just getting a newer, more efficient model rather than buying new expensive parts to fix a defective unit. As for the more costly devices, it's worth considering the length of the manufacturer warranty when choosing one, as it can guarantee that you get at least a few more years of value from your purchase.
The best way to ensure that your devices will last you a long time is to do your research ahead of time. Check out the reviews and the overall scores and see what they say about the reliability of the appliance that you’re trying to buy.