The teen years can Be difficult

-For your home!

There’s nothing like being a teen, one minute it’s a wonderful life and you are discovering who you are, and the next day everything
seems to go wrong.

It may sound strange but the same growing pains happen to your home when it’s between 12-18 years old. While teen angst should pass, your home’s whining and stomping will only get louder. Don’t worry, there’s plenty you can do. Here’s what’s going on in your home between about 12-18 years of age and what you can do about it.

Equipment doesn’t last forever

Heating, water heating, dishwashing, laundry appliances and other home components do not last forever, and they lose energy efficiency as they age. As few exceptions are: ductless heat pumps, and tankless water heaters which are expected to last 20 or more years. For the rest…

• Heating and cooling equipment including gas furnaces, natural gas fireplaces, (ducted) heat pumps and air conditioners typically last 12-15 years depending on wear and tear. All brands of heating equipment can wear through parts during this time. You may start experiencing some new noises and/or burnt smells from your gas furnace when it kicks on, and this is its way of asking for a service call.

What to do: ‘Tuning up’ heating and cooling equipment with annual professional maintenance removes build up on working parts and can prolong the life of equipment. The other thing that helps both you and your equipment breathe easier is changing your furnace filter per manufacturer recommendation. Most furnaces are on a quarterly or 6 month cycle. Eventually your equipment will become less efficient, so you may find an unexpected benefit in lower utility costs from replacing it with new high efficiency products.

• Appliances: Gas ranges and washing machines have a life expectancy of 11-15 years, and refrigerators 14-17 years, but the average lifespan of a dishwasher is only 10-13 years. (Source National Association of Realtors). Cleaning and flushing the dishwasher can prolong its life, however, there is one part of the dishwasher which may not even make it to the teen years – the hose. Dishwasher hose failure is one of the most common causes of house flooding and insurance claims. This is the water line that connects the dishwasher to the plumbing.

What to do: Replace rubber hoses on dishwashers and laundry appliances every five years or as recommended by the manufacturer. Spend a little extra for stainless steel. It’s worth it and will have a longer life. Another recommendation for older but working water appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines is to put a water leak protection device in and a leak detector pad under the equipment. This way, if these items leak, it can minimize damage (if for example you are not home) by shutting off your main water line.

• Water heater: If your tank water heater makes it to the teen years, you’re ahead of the curve. Most standard tank water heaters last 8-12 years, depending on maintenance. Unless you are doing the flush maintenance religiously, sediment is building up inside your tank. As this happens, the tank produces less and less hot water in of each tankful. In addition, the heating rods inside start to rust and decay from being submerged in hot water for years. Eventually, standard tanks will start to leak. A sudden cold snap outside can push an old tank that is weak to burst from the heating demands on it.

The maintenance needed for a standard tank is a flush which homeowners can easily do themselves. If you have an older tank but it’s still working great, a water leak protection device (mentioned above) can protect the home from sudden flooding. There are now tanks which are made from stainless steel and have a limited lifetime warranty. They cost about the same as one and a half tanks. This can be a great deal if you plan to be in your house for a long time.

• Fire extinguisher: Some sources say 10-12 years but visually inspect because it could be a lot sooner. Look for cracks on the hose or nozzle. Or take it to your local firehouse where they can check it out.

• Exterior products: Every house is different and you may never have a problem with windows or siding, but to be safe, always keep warranty paperwork and/or ask for it when buying a house. Many warranties are transferable to new owners, which can benefit you. If you see leaky windows or cracks in siding in the teen years, it may be covered. For example, the windows we sell have either a lifetime or 20 year warranty depending on the brand.

Washington Energy can help you keep your heating and water heating equipment in top form. Call 800-398-4663 and ask for maintenance services.