Average Lifespan of Plumbing Equipment

Depending on the age of the facility and the equipment inside, it may be time to replace plumbing fixtures and equipment. Replacement timelines vary but knowing when to replace plumbing equipment can save you money and time in the long run, especially if a pipe bursts. Proactive maintenance instead of reactive can also affect how much money you save.

Toilets: Toilet bowls generally need to be replaced only if they’re cracked. If a toilet is older than 25 years, it may need to be replaced due to newer water usage regulations. New toilets use less water, which can save money and the environment compared with older toilets. Other signs toilets need to be replaced include frequent clogging, constant water running in the tank, or water leakage from the tank or base.

Handle Assemblies: Replace if you have to jiggle it to stop the water from running, your toilet won’t fully flush unless you hold the handle down, or your water runs on its own without you having flushed.

Flappers, trip levers, fill valves, fittings, and connections: Generally, need to be replaced every 4-5 years.

Wax Seals: Though wax seals often last 20-30 years, they need to be replaced if water leaks from under the base of the toilet. Additionally, if there is an odor or if the toilet is removed and reinstalled, a new wax seal should be used.

Caulking: Caulking lasts between 5-10 years. It’s also important to check for mold and mildew before reapplying caulk.

Traditional and Tankless Water Heaters: Traditional should be replaced every 10-15 years while tankless last for about 20 years. Well-maintained water heaters can last longer. Water heaters need to be replaced if the pilot light in your traditional heater is flickering out, the circuit breaker in your tankless heater is tripping, the burner or heating element is failing, the thermostat is breaking, the valve is sticking, or if it leaks or has rust around the heater. Draining or flushing water heaters once a year to wash away mineral deposit build up can help extend the life of a water heater.

Central Air Conditioning Unit: While most window units, if properly maintained, may last 10 years or less, a central air conditioning unit averages around 20 years. This time may decrease or increase based on how often it is used.

Garbage Disposals: About 10 years. Need to be replaced if food is taking a long time to break down, resetting it more often, won’t turn on, leaks, lingering odors, or frequent clogs. Normal usage of a garbage disposal is care that is not neglectful, excessive, or abusive. Allowing food scraps to go straight into the disposal instead of the trash can damage the device.

Sinks and Faucets: Faucets can usually be repaired and updated without having to fully replace them. Replace if you are updating an outdated style, incorporating newer technology such as washerless cartridge, less water waste, or hands free, or an easier to use faucet. Sinks can last around 50 years if they are made from acrylic. A leaky faucet or squeaking noises when the water is on are signs it is time to replace. Inconsistent water streams and clanking noises as the water flows are also signs your sink or faucet need to be replaced.

Supply Pipes: Leaks will do the most damage. Pipes do not have to be replaced as often as other equipment but if the building is on the older side, it may be time. Brass pipes: 80-100 years; Copper pipes: 70-80 years; galvanized steel pipes: 80-100 years. Though not common, there are still neighborhoods where lead water pipes exist. They were predominately used in the early 1900s and can have a lifespan of up to 100 years.

Drain Lines/Gas Lines: While drain lines can last for many years, they can be damaged by tree root growth and over time by old age. Cast iron pipes: 80-100 years; PVC plastic pipes: 25-40 years. Flexible gas lines usually last up to 30 years. Traditional black steel pipes can last up to 75 years or more.

Sewer Lines: Most sewer lines won’t need to be replaced until there is an issue, such as a crack, leak, or sewage backup. Other reasons sewer lines need to be replaced include gurgling noises, a lack of water in the toilet, foul odors, or rusted/corroded pipes.

Showers/Bathtubs: The average life of a showerhead is around 100 years unless mineral buildup causes damage. However, it is one of the most replaced fixtures. People swap out showerheads for newer models that offer better water flow, design, or water efficiency. Shower doors are generally good for about 20 years, depending on the quality of care and maintenance. Though the average life of a bathtub depends on the usage, whirlpool tubs can last between 20-50 years. Fiberglass bathtubs, however, usually only last around 10-15 years.

Dishwashers: Though once considered a luxury or add-on, most homeowners now have one in their house and find it to be essential in their kitchen. Dishwashers generally last 7-12 years, 10 years being the average. It’s time to replace when the door won’t open, close, latch, or seal properly, it won’t drain or fill adequately, unfamiliar noises during use, or isn’t heating. If it still completes cycles but either won’t fill adequately or isn’t heating, it is time to replace it.

Washing machines: The average washing machine lasts an average of 14 years. This takes into consideration most top and front-load machines that average one wash cycle per day. Double-digit loads per week may cause this life span to shorten. Replace a washing machine if there is excessive noise during a cycle, water does not fill entirely or remains in the drum after the cycle, the drum stops turning during the cycle, or the electrical panels no longer function. Leaks and cracks can also be a sign that it is time to replace a washing machine.

Washing Machine Supply Hoses: Every 3 years. Replace if you see or feel a bubble in the hose, obvious damage like cracks, unraveling, discoloration, crimps, or kinks, leaking, or rusting.

Best Plumbing Specialties has replacement parts, new equipment, assortments, and tools for every job. Check out our full catalog and find everything you need to get the job done.

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