In other words, how long do things last in my home and what will it cost me to replace them?
As you are aware, nothing lasts forever, and certainly seems like nothing ever breaks down at a convenient time. Your AC, when it goes out, will probably go out in July, your stove will go out on Thanksgiving right when you are in the middle of making a turkey dinner, and your furnace will probably break on the coldest night of the year-over a holiday weekend when no one is around to repair it. Okay, okay, I hope not! But, it definitely helps to understand the age of your appliances and when they will need to be replaced so you aren’t surprised when they call it quits. It’s much better to know your fridge is on it’s way out so you have time to shop around and find a great sale and/or the perfect size and replace it on YOUR time table than to wait until it breaks and you are in crisis mode and you have to settle or worse, over pay!
If you’re not sure how old your appliance is, you can find this information by analyzing the tag or sticker that shows the serial number. These tags are often located inside the door of an appliance, on the back, or under an easily removed panel. The serial number tag on most modern appliances lists the manufacture date clearly. If you can’t find the date, you’ll need to decode the serial number to find out the appliance’s age. Search for this “appliance date code” based on the brand of your appliance, or simply determine the appliance age by typing the brand and serial number itself in an online search. Often, the first few numeric characters simply line up with a month and year.
You will want to have a central place where you keep track of major home systems and appliances…a file cabinet or series of folders. Make sure you hang on to:
- Instructions / Installation Guides / User Manuals
- Repairs or Maintenance receipts
- A master spreadsheet to keep track of age / maintenance / estimated year to replace
Life expectancy varies with usage, weather, installation, maintenance, and quality of materials, but as a general rule, the following two guides will assist in helping you understand current and potential costs to repair, replace, and roughly when you should plan for it!
The bottom line here is this: Keep a master list of your home’s systems including age, maintenance, and any warranty information. Assume that an appliance/system that has reached it’s life expectancy or even exceeded it is headed for repairs or replacement sooner than later and you may need to plan financially for that expense. Be sure to do proper maintenance on each system to extend the life as long as possible (replace air filters, clean vents etc). And if you are purchasing a home with aging appliances, consider a home warranty to buffer against any expensive repairs in the first year.