Now that’s a very good question! In my 18 yrs of in home sales, this question arises all the time, and is one of the ways that I assist home owners in determining if it is worthwhile, to go ahead with a repair or if it would be a smarter move to invest that money into a new HVAC System.
The National Home Builders Association has completed a Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components. This study was completed in 2007. Knowledge is power, and by knowing the life expectancy you will have more insight into what questions you should be asking a service provider to help you determine if the recommendations being made are warranted. It is important to know the guidelines for life expectancy so that home owners can determine how much money they need to put aside for repair and/or replacement.
Here is some of the information from the NHBA study:
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems require proper and regular maintenance in order to work efficiently, but even in the best case scenarios most components of such systems only last 15 to 25 years. Furnaces on average last 15-20 years, heat pumps 16 years, and air conditioning 10-15 years. Tankless water heaters last more than 20 years, while an electric or gas water heater has a life expectancy of about 10 years. Thermostats usually are replaced before the end of their 35-year lifespan due to technological improvements.
Garage door openers are expected to last 10 to 15 years, and light inserts for 20 years.
The life expectancy of a typical appliance depends to a great extent on the use it receives. Moreover, appliances are often replaced long before they are worn out because changes in styling, technology and consumer preferences make newer products more desirable. Of the major appliances in a home, gas ranges have the longest life expectancy: 15 years. Dryers and refrigerators last about 13 years. Some of the appliances with the shortest lifespan are: compactors (6 years), dishwashers (9 years) and microwave ovens (9 years).
I suggest that you keep this information handy. It will be very helpful if you find yourself in a situation where you need to have a service provider into your home because something is not working. If your garage door opener is under 6 years old and it is not working you can now ask the service person questions that will indicate that you are an informed home owner. If they are suggesting replacement you may ask “I understand that these systems should last at least 10 years. Why do you think this one failed early and what guarantee do I have that this won’t happen again with the product that you are suggesting”? Or you may ask “what advances in technology have taken place since this unit was installed and why would I want to install that instead of repairing this one”? Asking good questions will bring out what your options are and should provide you with enough information to determine, do you want to work with this provider or should you call and get another person in to look at the situation.
Home Ownership is a wonderful thing and by knowing about the systems and questions that you can ask a service provider, you will not feel so vulnerable. Trust your intuition. If you sense that you are not being given all the information, or that someone is selling though fear, trust your gut. If you are not convinced that you are getting the right information maybe it’s time for another opinion.