Updated: Apr 30, 2020
When looking at a potential new home or even if you are a current home owner, being aware of the age of your appliances is very important. Appliances can be one of the more expensive repairs or replacements of the home so it is important to know the current condition. Although appliances can operate and run past their typical life expectancy, that does not mean they are operating efficiently nor should you trust that they are going to keep operating as they should and is best to consider replacement soon if they have reached their typical life expectancy.
The last thing you want is your water heater to fail unexpectedly, your air conditioning to fail in the hot summer months, or your heating system fail during cold and bitter winter. Regular maintenance to your appliances can prolong their life expectancy, as well as their efficiency. You can find maintenance tips in our other blog posts.
A reliable website I always use with home inspections when determining the age appliances is www.building-center.org. Not all appliances state the date that it was manufactured, so the next information to check is the serial number. There can be multiple different styles of serial numbers mixed with numbers and letters. The building center website breaks down how each style of serial number determines the age of the appliance. One example pictured here is determining the age of this Rheem water heater - a very common brand used today. The first two (green) numbers are the month it was manufactured and the second two (red) numbers are the year. Your typical water heater life expectancy is 10-15 years with annual maintenance. A great tip to prolong the life of your water heater is to drain the tank once or twice a year to drain the sediments out of the tank. Check out our water heater maintenance blog for more tips on water heaters.
The same concept works for your HVAC units such as your air handler/furnace and air conditioner/condenser unit. If it does not state the date of manufacture, simply check the serial number. This is the data plate on a #Carrier air conditioner unit. Based on the style of this serial number information, this unit was made and installed in 2013. Not all serial numbers have the year it was made as the second set of numbers so it is important to carefully compare each style of serial number to the one that matches your appliance's data plate to get the most accurate age of the unit.
Typical life expectancies
(all average life expectancies are with annual maintenance and servicing/tune-ups)
Air conditioner / condenser unit - 12-15 years
Furnace / air handler - around 16-20+ years
Water heater tanks - 10-12 years
Tankless water heaters - around 20 years
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