Replace It or Repair It?

Repair or replace questions are frequent here at Home Owners Network.  Every appliance and component in your home has an expected service life.  Components like the foundation and wood frame should last for the life of your home.  You will need to replace most other appliances and components at some point.

The average home appliance and component expected service lives listed below assume that you perform recommended periodic maintenance and assume that the appliance or component is at least average initial quality.  Components that are not properly maintained, components of lower initial quality, and components subject to extreme conditions, may not last as long.  Conversely, components that are well maintained and are of higher initial quality may last longer.  Sometimes, service life comes down to plain old luck. 

Times are in years.

Air conditioner external condenser unit  12-15
Air handler (heat pump) 16-25
Attic ventilation fan (electric) 5-10
Bathtub/shower (fiberglass) 15-20 (may not be cosmetically pleasing)
Boiler, gas 21-25+
Carbon monoxide alarm    7
Clothes dryer   13-18
Clothes washing machine  10-15
Decks (dry climates and cool climates)  20-25
Decks (warm/humid climates)  15-20

Dishwashing machine  9-12
Disposer (food waste grinder)  10-12
Electrical panels and circuit breakers  40
Exhaust fan (bath, laundry, kitchen)  10-20
Faucets, kitchen  15 (repair may extend life)
Faucets, tub/shower  20 (repair may extend life)
Furnace, gas   18-25
Furnace, oil  20-25
Fireplace (prefab wood burning)  25-40
Garage door   20+ (repair may extend life)
Garage door opener   10-15

Ground fault circuit interrupter receptacles/breakers   10
Gutters (galvanized & aluminum)  20+
Microwave oven (built-in)  9-12
Paint (exterior)  5-10
Plumbing pipes (ABS, PVC)  50+
Plumbing pipes (cast iron)  50-75
Plumbing pipes (copper)  20-50+
Plumbing pipes (PEX)  40+
Plumbing pipes (galvanized steel)  50
Range, electric  13-20
Range, gas  15-20
Refrigerator  13-18
Roof tile underlayment (#30 felt)  20-40
Roof covering (modified bitumen)  20
Roof covering (asphalt shingles, flat)  15-18
Roof covering (asphalt shingles, dimensional)  18-22
Roof covering (wood)  30+
Siding (Masonite® & similar hardboard) 20-30+ (good painting may extend life)
Shower doors  20-25
Smoke alarms  10
Toilet tank interior parts  5-10
Ventilation fan (attic)  5-10
Water heater (electric)  11-15+
Water heater (gas)  10-15+
Well pressure tanks (depends on type and water quality)  20-25
Well pumps (depends on type and water quality) 10-15

The Bottom Line
Repair or replace is often a tough call.  Here are some guidelines.  If the component is within or beyond the end of service life range above, it’s usually best to replace it.  Money spent on a service call may not be worth it.  Consider putting that money into a new component instead.  If the component is less than half way through its expected service life, consider paying a service technician to estimate the repair cost.  If that cost is less than half the cost of a new component, repair; otherwise replace.

The really tough situation is when the component is more than half way through its expected service life.  That situation is a roll of the dice about what to do.  This is when our ‘Ask The Experts’ service may help.  Tell us about your situation.  Please include as many details as possible so we can provide you with our best advice.  A picture often helps too.
If you need a qualified technician to help you, try our ‘Find a Contractor’ referral service.  Log on to your Home Owners Network account to access the ‘Find a Contractor’ page. Not a member? Join today at:


If you have a question, comment, or home tip, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can email your questions to us at We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

Quote of the Month
“Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity.”
- Samuel Johnson

Tip Of The Hat To:

John Santiago
Re/Max Center
1140 Old Peachtree Road, Ste D
Duluth, Georgia 30097





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