Your Home – How Long Will it Last

Your Home – How Long Will it Last?  When you are considering buying your dream house there are many items in a house that will eventually require replacement.  The Barrie Home Inspector has put together a list of components and systems that you can expect to replace at some time in the life span of your home.  Some of the areas we will be dealing with are your roof,  heating and air conditioning, hot water tanks, siding or cladding, plumbing supply lines and doors and windows.

Gas furnaces will typically last 20 to 25 years with only minor repairs being required.   Most furnaces are replaced after the heat exchanger fails and even if still under warranty the labour costs would be prohibitive.  The flame sensor is the most common failure and a gas furnace can vary from $100.00 to $200.00, so it pays to shop around.  The initial cost of a new gas furnace can range from $900.00 to $14,00.00 with installation being extra.

Oil furnaces have a life expectancy of 20 years based on results used in 2010.  Also with the oil furnace you need an oil storage tank.  The storage tank should be a listed ULC rated tank which is good for 10 years from date on listing tag.  After ten years your oil supplier will have to visually inspect your tank before delivering oil.

Central Air Conditioning

Air Conditioner with Cracked Support SlabUnits can last anywhere from 15 to 20 years.  Some models will last longer and most experts will tell you to just run them until they stop.  Having a working 25 year old central air conditioner is not un-common. Roofs with Fiberglass shingles can expect to last around Below is a list of items in the home and the Life Expectancy or the individual items.


The most common type of roofing material is fiberglass shingles.  The builders grade of shingle usually will last between 18 and 20 years.  The south side of roof gets more sunlight and will start deteriorating first.  Whenever you see your shingles starting to curl it is time to start thinking about replacing your shingles.  Ensure your roofers quote will include things like, installing a starter strip, whether of not he will be replacing any valley or flashing material and will he be putting new flashing on plumbing vents etc.


Some insurance companies will not insure home with galvanized plumbing as it is not used anymore and it will have exceeded its predictable life span. The common life expectancy of galvanized steel is 20 to 50 years.  Copper is rated to last over 50 years and was the most common type of plumbing material used replacing galvanized steel. Pex plumbing is thought to be able to be used for well over 50 plus years as there is not hard data available as yet.  Polybutylene piping—a gray, plastic plumbing material used from the 1970s through the 1990s—is extremely prone to breakage.

Hot Water Tanks –  The consensus on the life expectancy on water heaters seems to depend on some variables, such as;  how hard your water is, do you drain tank periodically, and the hotter the water the shorter the life span.  8 to 12 years seems to be the average life span.

Exterior Cladding

Fiber-cement, wood, and aluminum siding have a 50 year life expectancy, but life expectancy for wood is contingent on painting. Vinyl has a 25 year expected life, however, it may be replaced earlier because it tends to look less presentable over time due to fading and cannot be painted. Fiber-cement board has twice the life span of vinyl.  Wood composite products have the shortest useful life span – around 10 to 30 years.

Doors & Windows 

Aluminum windows are expected to last between 15 and 20 years while wooden
windows should last upwards of 30 years. Newer PVC windows have a life expectancy from 8 to 30 years.  Quality of manufacturing will vary and items like using Argon gas for thermal units can greatly extend life of window.  Some exterior doors now come with a lifetime guarantee but don’t expect to find that door installed by a subdivision builder.


Below is a chart of the life expectancy of most household items:

Life Expectancy of Household Components
Appliances Life in years
Compactors 10
Dishwashers 10
Dryers 14
Disposal 10
Freezers, compact 12
Freezers, standard 16
Microwave ovens 11
Electric ranges 17
Gas ranges 19
Gas ovens 14
Refrigerators, compact 14
Refrigerators, standard 17
Washers, automatic and compact 13
Exhaust fans 20

Source: Appliance Statistical Review, April 1990

Bathrooms Life in years
Cast iron bathtubs 50
Fiberglass bathtub and showers 10-15
Shower doors, average quality 25
Toilets 50

Sources: Neil Kelly Designers, Thompson House of Kitchens and Bath

Cabinetry Life in years
Kitchen cabinets 15-20
Medicine cabinets and bath vanities 20

Sources: Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, Neil Kelly Designers

Closet systems Life in years
Closet shelves Lifetime
Countertops Life in years
Laminate 10-15
Ceramic tile, high-grade installation Lifetime
Wood/butcher block 20+
Granite 20+

Sources: AFPAssociates of Western Plastics, Ceramic Tile Institute of America

Doors Life in years
Screen 25-50
Interior, hollow core Less than 30
Interior, solid core 30-lifetime
Exterior, protected overhang 80-100
Exterior, unprotected and exposed 25-30
Folding 30-lifetime
Garage doors 20-50
Garage door opener 10

Sources: Wayne Dalton Corporation, National Wood Window and Door Association, Raynor Garage Doors

Electrical Life in years
Copper wiring, copper plated, copper clad aluminum, and bare copper 100+
Armored cable (BX) Lifetime
Conduit Lifetime

Source: Jesse Aronstein, Engineering Consultant

Finishes used for waterproofing Life in years
Paint, plaster, and stucco 3-5
Sealer, silicone, and waxes 1-5

Source: Brick Institute of America Floors

Floors Life in years
Oak or pine Lifetime
Slate flagstone Lifetime
Vinyl sheet or tile 20-30
Terrazzo Lifetime
Carpeting (depends on installation, amount of traffic, and quality of carpet) 11
Marble (depends on installation, thickness of marble, and amount of traffic) Lifetime+

Sources: Carpet and Rug Institute, Congoleum Corporation, Hardwood Plywood Manufacturers Association, Marble Institute, National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association, National Wood Flooring Association, Resilient Floor Covering Institute

Footings and foundation Life in years
Poured footings and foundations 200
Concrete block 100
Cement 50
Waterproofing, bituminous coating 10
Termite proofing (may have shorter life in damp climates) 5

Source: WR Grace and Company

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) Life in years
Central air conditioning unit (newer units should last longer) 15
Window unit 10
Air conditioner compressor 15
Humidifier 8
Electric water heater 14
Gas water heater (depends on type of water heater lining and quality of water) 11-13
Forced air furnaces, heat pump 15
Rooftop air conditioners 15
Boilers, hot water or steam (depends on quality of water) 30
Furnaces, gas- or oil-fired 18
Unit heaters, gas or electric 13
Radiant heaters, electric 10
Radiant heaters, hot water or steam 25
Baseboard systems 20
Diffusers, grilles, and registers 27
Induction and fan coil units 20
Dampers 20
Centrifugal fans 25
Axial fans 20
Ventilating roof-mounted fans 20
DX, water, and steam coils 20
Electric coils 15
Heat Exchangers, shell-and-tube 24
Molded insulation 20
Pumps, sump and well 10
Burners 21

Sources: Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration News, Air Movement and Control Association, American Gas Association, American Society of Gas Engineers, American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc., Safe Aire Incorporated

Home security appliances Life in years
Intrusion systems 14
Smoke detectors 12
Smoke/fire/intrusion systems 10
Insulation Life in years
For foundations, roofs, ceilings, walls, and floors Lifetime

Sources: Insulation Contractors Association of America, North American Insulation Manufacturers Association

Landscaping Life in years
Wooden decks 15
Brick and concrete patios 24
Tennis courts 10
Concrete walks 24
Gravel walks 4
Asphalt driveways 10
Swimming pools 18
Sprinkler systems 12
Fences 12

Sources: Associated Landscape Contractors of America, Irrigation Association

Masonry Life in years
Chimney, fireplace, and brick veneer Lifetime
Brick and stone walls 100+
Stucco Lifetime

Sources: Brick Institute of America, Architectural Components, National Association of Brick Distributors, National Stone Association

Millwork Life in years
Stairs, trim 50-100
Disappearing stairs 30-40
Paints and stains Life in years
Exterior paint on wood, brick, and aluminum 7-10
Interior wall paint (depends on the acrylic content) 5-10
Interior trim and door paint 5-10
Wallpaper 7

Sources: Finnaren and Haley, Glidden Company, The Wall Paper

Plumbing Life in years
Waste piping, cast iron 75-100
Sinks, enamel steel 5-10
Sinks, enamel cast iron 25-30
Sinks, china 25-30
Faucets, low quality 13-15
Faucets, high quality 15-20

Sources: American Concrete Pipe Association, Cast Iron Soil and Pipe Institute, Neil Kelly Designers, Thompson House of Kitchens and Baths

Roofing Life in years
Asphalt and wood shingles and shakes 15-30
Tile (depends on quality of tile and climate) 50
Slate (depends on grade) 50-100
Sheet metal (depends on gauge of metal and quality of fastening and application) 20-50+
Built-up roofing, asphalt 12-25
Built-up roofing, coal and tar 12-30
Asphalt composition shingle 15-30
Asphalt overlag 25-35

Source: National Roofing Contractors Association

Rough structure Life in years
Basement floor systems Lifetime
Framing, exterior and interior walls Lifetime

Source: NAHB Research Foundation

Shutters Life in years
Wood, interior Lifetime
Wood, exterior (depends on weather conditions) 4-5
Vinyl plastic, exterior 7-8
Aluminum, interior 35-50
Aluminum, exterior 3-5

Sources: A.C. Shutters, Inc., Alcoa Building Products, American Heritage Shutters

Siding Life in years
Gutters and downspouts 30
Siding, wood (depends on maintenance) 10-100
Siding, steel 50-Lifetime
Siding, aluminum 20-50
Siding, vinyl 50

Sources: Alcoa Building Products, Alside, Inc., Vinyl Siding Institute

Walls and window treatments Life in years
Drywall and plaster 30-70
Ceramic tile, high grade installation Lifetime

Sources: Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries International, Ceramic Tile Institute of America

Windows Life in years
Window glazing 20
Wood casement 20-50
Aluminum and vinyl casement 20-30
Screen 25-50

Sources: Best Built Products, Optimum Window Manufacturing, Safety Glazing Certification Council, Screen Manufacturers Association