How Long Should A Major Appliance Last?

Consumer Reports surveyed “tens of thousands” of subscribers regarding more than 20 brands of major appliances in 2019. Almost consistently across the board, the answer was 10 years’ life expectancy for a major household appliance. Expect a microwave oven to last for 9 years. 

A Family Handyman 2022 survey was less optimistic, showing that microwaves last 6 years, washers, dishwashers and refrigerators hold on for approximately 7 years, a dryer can withstand 7-12 years, and a range (stove) will do well for 10-15 years. 

Go for that extended warranty, Consumer Reports recommends. Forty percent of refrigerators can start having problems within two to five years. The next not-so-reliable appliances are washers and dishwashers at 30%. Even the most reliable ones, dryers and ranges, aren’t much to cheer about, with 25% breaking down within five years. 

What happened? Appliances used to be so reliable. Family Handyman suggests that, in addition to being made with less expensive materials, sturdy gears have been replaced by electronics. Although they do amazing things, circuitry fails faster. 

‘This Old House’ experts remind us that life expectancy also depends on care and use. Kitchen and laundry appliances may get as much as 12 to 15 years of life under good care, and less frequent use. 

Helps and hacks: 

  • Use pre-measured pods in the washer and dishwasher to keep them from over-sudsing and causing mechanism damage. Be gentle on electronic push buttons or knobs when changing settings.
  • Don’t use the self-cleaning feature on an oven because its extremely high heat can ruin components.
  • Clean the dryer lint trap every time without fail. Don’t use dryer sheets because they leave sticky residue on the lint trap screen, making it unable to work. Get the dryer ventilation system going to the outside of your house cleaned out 1-2 times a year, depending on whether you have pets. 
  • Set the refrigerator and freezer to reasonable temperatures, not Arctic. Vacuum under and around the appliance frequently. Don’t block interior vents.

The basic maintenance rule to remember for all appliances is to keep drains, ducts and air flow from clogging to extend their lives.