Today we’re talking about the life expectancy of household appliances and items. It helps us with our budgeting and it helps us to be fair and consistent with our security deposits and how we return them to tenants.
Carpet and Paint
The Builders Association say these items should last 8 – 10 years, depending on what types of carpet and paint you use. We don’t use the cheapest products, but we also aren’t going to use the high-end products in a rental property. So, assuming we’re using middle to low end carpet and paint, we expect five years out of both carpet and paint, especially if we have turnovers at the property and tenants coming in and out. We always try to touch up the paint when we can. It’s been my experience that you can touch up the paint twice before you just need to paint the whole property. So, when we’re managing a property and we have to charge a tenant for replacing carpet or painting because of excessive damages, we need to account for that five-year life expectancy. If the tenant is in your home for 10 years and you need to replace the carpet and paint after they’ve moved out, they surpassed the life expectancy of those things. So, a deposit deduction in that case is not warranted because the wear and tear is expected.
We like to hope for a longer lifespan, but we think five years is about right for exterior paint too. In Texas, with the blistering summers and the driving wind and rain, we often get hail. So, the severe weather does reduce the life expectancy of exterior paint. This is one of the most commonly neglected items for rental property. People tend to not pay attention to it or be resistant to doing it until it becomes an emergency.
The shortest life expectancy of household appliances is the microwave, specifically over the range microwaves. I don’t know if it’s the materials they use or if there’s a chemical reaction with the gas, or if they’re installed too low and the heat hurts them, but we are constantly finding microwaves last less than five years. The heat essentially destroys the low-grade plastic. So, if a tenant tells us the microwave is falling apart and we don’t see signs of damage or abuse, it’s probably not the tenant’s fault. The Builders Association says nine years for microwaves, but I give them five years. Often, I remove the over the range microwave and install a vent hood if there’s space for a counter microwave.
Dishwashers also don’t last long. The Builders Association gives them nine years but I give them five or six years. This is because of the hard water we have in our area. That’s a high-mineral water, and it’s where you get the calcium buildup on your sinks and appliances. That hard water gets in the motor and it can jam up the dishwasher. You can’t fix it, and you must replace it. Unfortunately, we have seen builders put in lower-end dishwashers and microwaves recently.
The gas range will be your appliance with the longest life expectancy. We typically expect those to last for 15 years. We don’t see a lot of damage to those.
This is huge in Texas because there are maybe five days out of the year that we can leave our windows open, otherwise we need to use the heat or the air conditioning. For example, it is November 17 today, and 80-plus degrees. We’re running the air conditioning, but tomorrow it will be in the 40’s and we’ll turn on the heater. The HVAC is always running, and even in the best-case scenario, you must maintain the system. Do tune-ups in the winter and the summer to make sure everything is properly balanced and running well. The perfect scenario according to the Builders Association is 15 – 25, years but I rarely see something last that long. You’re actually looking at 10 – 15 years if it’s properly maintained.