What You’ll Need to Replace in Your Home (and When)

The American dream has long included homeownership. Often forgotten in the excitement of the purchase process, however, are the costs of maintenance and repairs. A recent Bankrate survey, in fact, says the main regret of 21% of millennial homebuyers was being caught off guard by maintenance costs.

While you can’t predict exactly when your roof, windows, or dishwasher may give out, you need to budget for that inevitability AND be proactive with maintenance to maximize their lifespan.

To help you plan ahead, we’ve outlined the major replacements you can expect in your home’s lifetime and what you can do to get the most life out of your home’s systems.

Roof

A new roof is one of the most expensive but also important home repairs you can make. This is why it’s often top-ranked in terms of repair ROI. By inspecting your roof regularly, you can extend the life of your shingles, maximize your roof’s life, and prevent water intrusion complications along the way.

Here are signs that your roof may need to be fixed or replaced.

When to service: Twice a year. Preventative measures such as trimming trees, cleaning gutters, and checking for curled, damaged, and missing shingles can go a long way when it comes to maintaining a strong roof. Do this every spring and fall.

Expected lifespan: 15-30 years (asphalt), 40-70 years (metal)

Windows

Windows have an impressive lifespan, ranging from 20-40 years depending on the materials. While obvious signs of condensation are reason to worry, there are steps you can take to prevent such problems. 

When to service: Yearly. Windows may require additional caulking and/or insulation to remain efficient, but experts recommend replacing if you notice moisture between panes or any signs of cracking.

Here are some other signs of window failure.

Expected lifespan: 20 years (wood), 20-40 years (vinyl)

Gutters

By channeling water away from your home, gutters are a critical part of your home. Remember to regularly clean them to avoid build-up of damage-causing leaves and debris. 

When to service: Twice a year. It’s recommended you clean your gutters twice yearly, preferably every spring and fall

Expected lifespan: 20 years

Siding

Siding keeps the hot, cool, and wet weather elements – as well as rodents and other pests – out of your home. Naturally, you’ll want to make sure this system is free from defects.

When to service: Twice a year. For vinyl siding, you’ll want to do a visual inspection at least every six months to ensure there’s no damage and that trees and brush are not making contact. Also, give them a thorough cleaning at least once a year. The same applies to siding composed of other materials, such as fiber cement and wood. With wood, you’ll want to pay close attention to mold and rot.

Expected lifespan: 20-40 years for vinyl siding – but upwards of 60 years depending on materials, climate, and routine maintenance. 

Hot Water Heater

People often forget about the hot water heater, but you’ll definitely notice it when it’s not working properly! Keep it in good health by watching for signs of potential failure and with routine maintenance.

When to service: Yearly. Experts recommend servicing your hot water heater once a year. This includes draining and flushing the tank to remove settled debris. 

Expected lifespan: A standard water heater can last anywhere between 8-12 years. A tankless heater can last upwards of 20 years.

HVAC: AC & Furnace

Servicing your AC and furnace may sound excessive, but it’s imperative to the health of your HVAC system.

When to service: Yearly. A thorough cleaning of both units is recommended for optimal performance. Also, make sure to replace your furnace filters at least once every 1-3 months.

Expected lifespan: Air conditioners typically last 12-17 years; your furnace can keep humming for as long as 20-30 years with proper maintenance.

Appliances

Good news: major household appliances have a lifespan of 10-15 years. While it’s safe to assume you won’t be replacing these regularly, you’ll want to watch for and remedy signs of failure early.

Note: as a general rule of thumb, if the repair cost of an appliance is 50% or more than the replacement cost, you’re probably better off just replacing the appliance. Always get a quote before making repairs.

Refrigerator 

Look out for signs your fridge may not be working properly, namely premature food expiration and ice build-up in the freezer or fridge.

When to service: As needed

Expected lifespan: 13 years

Dishwasher

If you see rust, water pooling or leaking, or your dishes are cold, spotty, or dirty, it may be time to fix or replace your unit. 

When to service: as needed

Expected lifespan: 9 years

Washer and Dryer

Damp clothes after three dryer runs, rust stains on your white pants, spin cycles that don’t seem to, well, spin. These are all signs that your washer and dryer may need to be swapped.

When to service: as needed

Expected lifespan: 13 years

Oven Range 

If your oven takes forever to heat, cooks unevenly, or is generally unreliable, it’s probably time to take action. 

When to service: as needed

Expected lifespan: 14 years

How much should you budget for replacement?

It depends on your home.

State Farm, for example, recommends setting aside between 1%-4% of your home’s value each year for repairs, maintenance, and replacement of your home’s systems. Where your home falls within that range depends on a few factors:

  • The age of your home and its systems
  • The quality of materials, components, and installation
  • Your location also plays a role in replacement costs. Your systems may be taxed more in wintry, humid, or rainy climates.

To fine-tune your budget for replacement costs, you’ll want to do the following:

  • Determine the age of your home’s systems
  • Reference the average lifespan of each system above
  • Find out the exact replacement cost for each, which you can do online.

This will give you an expectation of when you’ll need to replace and the costs you can expect.

If you need assistance determining your exact costs, we’re here to help.


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