How Long Should Appliances Last?

Eddie Jacob  |  May 16, 2014  |  4 Min. Read

Appliance Service  |  Appliance Repair

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At its height in the late 1980's - early 1990's, Maytag offered its iconic washer. A well manufactured machine that lasted, with an average life of 17-19 years. The machine was very simple, operating with knobs, buttons, belts and they were easily serviced.

Appliances now last about half that time for a variety of reasons.

First is energy efficiency. In the 1980s, California initiated the first energy efficiency laws. In order for products to be sold, they would meet certain requirements. That program would morph into todays national EnergyStar program. It would also affect how manufacturers produce new products.

Let's look at each type of product:

Washers

HE high efficiency detergent symbolFor example, that Maytag consumed 40-45 gallons of water per wash. In comparison, today's "High Efficiency" washers consume a third of that amount, averaging 15-18 gallons per wash. The old school washer was also known to consume 3 times the amount of electricity and possess half the usable capacity.

Refrigerators

Refrigerators have been affected by the new energy requirements more than any other product. You see less manufacturers in top freezer and bottom freezer (not French door) refrigerators, because compliance is so difficult.

The following chart lists how far "energy conscious" 18 cu. ft. refrigerators have evolved:

  Annual Electrical Consumption Cost
1972 2000 kWh $270.00 per year
1990 900 kWh $121.50 per year
1993 690 kWh $93.15 per year
2014 436 kWh $64.00 per year

Globalization

Back in the day, that iconic Maytag washer was built in one factory by the same people who used the same parts. Ironically, the most reliable companies like Miele and Gaggenau still produce similarly, but they are outliers.

Currently, most products are designed in one place, manufactured in Mexico, China or Korea with sourced, less expensive parts from other areas. This leaves room for misunderstandings (to be kind) and product failures.

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How Long Do Appliances Last?

The United Servicers Association estimates that your recent / new appliance will last about 6 - 10 years. They also require more service.

Average life of recently manufactured appliances:

  • Dishwashers and Washers hang on to the short end of that stick, because they operate with the deadly combination of water and moving parts - Average current life is about 6-7 years. 
  • Refrigerators fall into the middle of today’s average - Their current life is estimated at 8 -10 years.
  • The less used / less cycling, cooking appliances having the best chance to maybe reach a double digit life - Average life is about 9 - 11 years.

Where's The Balance?

Yeah, the longer life may seem better, but, let's not lose site of how much more energy efficient today's appliances are; with shorter and more frequent cycling, LED lighting, a third of the electric and water consumption, larger capacity and ECO friendly technologies. All are good news for the environment.

What is not in these numbers is how many people simply throw away their malfunctioning appliance. Many problems can be effectively mitigated by decent service for a fraction of the cost of a new product.

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Eddie Jacob

Eddie Jacob has 15+ years of sales & consulting experience and is in the appliance sales department at Yale Appliance. He takes pride in total customer satisfaction and enjoys coaching youth soccer.

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