Solved! How Long Do Washers and Dryers Last?
They chug and spin and wring and tumble, but how long should a washer and dryer last?
Q: The home I’m considering purchasing has some older appliances, and I’m trying to gauge whether I should be negotiating the purchase price of the home based on potentially needing to replace them. The dryer is a particular concern, although I think it’s about the same age as the washer. How long do dryers last? For that matter, how long do washers last?
A: It’s a great plan to assess the age and value of appliances when you’re buying a home, and even after you buy your home you’ll want to keep track of the age and planned replacement time for your appliances so you don’t end up replacing all of them at once. With good maintenance, you can expect a washer to last for about 10 years and a dryer for 13, although with extra care they can last longer.
In your situation, you have a few options: You can negotiate with the seller for a lower purchase price, you can ask the seller to purchase a yearlong home warranty to protect you should the appliances fail sooner than you expect, you can purchase a home warranty yourself, or you can hope for the best and start saving for new appliances when the time comes to replace them.
Why do washers and dryers fail? The load placed on the motor of a washing machine, as well as the constant exposure to water, can lead to corrosion, breakdown, and buildup of grit and mold. Dryers contend with high heat for long periods of time and venting challenges. Especially in a busy family home, the appliances both run as often as several times a day, so these machines work and work with very little respite. But the biggest damper on the lifespan of a washer and dryer is that most people rarely, if ever, think to clean or maintain them. Simple steps that aren’t time-consuming can allow your appliances to function well for longer.
Washers and dryers last 10 to 13 years on average.
Washers work hard, but a high-quality machine is designed to handle your toughest laundry challenges for about 10 years. Because they don’t have to contend with as much water as washers do, dryers last a little bit longer—about 13 years, regardless of whether the dryer is powered by gas or electricity.
This doesn’t seem like that long when you first invest in a new set, and as you plunk down your credit card you might think, “How long should a washer and dryer last?” When you really think about it, though, washers handle water coming in, splashing around, and draining, which means there’s a huge potential for corrosion. The motor slogs heavy loads of wet clothing and linens around and around at high speeds and whisks away the grit and dirt that comes off of them.
Dryers withstand high heat, zippers and buttons slamming into the metal grate, forgotten pocket contents melting against the interior, and clumps of fibers being dragged through their filters. Considering the wear and tear these factors cause, an average lifespan of 10 and 13 years is pretty impressive! That said, there are steps you can take to prolong your appliances’ lives.
There are a number of ways you can extend the life of your washer and dryer.
Washers and dryers experience wear and tear differently due to their separate functions. How long do washing machines last? While the average is 10 years, you can maximize the lifespan of your washer by doing the following.
- Level the washer at the time of installation, and check for level periodically. When washers aren’t level, the inner tub rotates unevenly and can skim along the side of the exterior, causing friction and wearing away at the metal. If the washer is far out of level, you’ll hear a terrible clunking noise, but even a slight imbalance can cause excess wear. Choose or build a level surface for installation, and then use the adjustable feet to make sure the machine is level across all planes.
- Check the hoses regularly. Water is the enemy of machinery, and washers have a lot of it. Check hoses and connections regularly to ensure they are snug and leak-free, and consider turning off the water at the washer when it’s not in use to reduce pressure on the hoses.
- Avoid overloading. Just because you can fit a huge basket of laundry into the washer doesn’t mean that you should. Wet clothes are heavy, and overfilling the machine will make it work harder and place a strain on the motor. Check your user’s manual to see what the recommended load is, and follow its guidance.
- Let it dry after each use. Mold is a particular problem with front-loader washers, even in the best washer brands, and it can also develop in top-loading models if the tub doesn’t drain completely. Leaving the door open between washes will allow the washer to dry out, reducing the likelihood of mold developing. An occasional cleaning of the rubber gasket that seals the door on front-loaders will also go a long way toward reducing mold growth and odor.
- Watch the detergent. There’s no need to add more detergent because a load of clothes is dirty—and adding too much forces the washer to work harder and use more water to rinse. Be sure you’ve chosen the appropriate detergent for your washer, especially if it’s a high-efficiency model, and use only the recommended amount. Also, clean out the detergent and softener dispensers on a regular basis; too much residue can result in extra suds and more wear on the machine.
Dryers require different maintenance to extend their lifespans. Those asking, “How long should dryers last?” can use these techniques to extend the life of a dryer.
- Keep it clean. Wet laundry can have residue in it from detergents or pretreatment chemicals, and that residue can come off the walls of the dryer and build up. The buildup causes several problems: it can rub off on clothing, discoloring them; it can narrow the holes in the dryer drum and make it more difficult for air to pass through; and it can melt off or chip away and clog the dryer vent. Clean the inside of the drum periodically with a damp cloth dipped in mild soap and water, then rise clean.
- Empty the lint filter. The lint filter should really be emptied between each load of laundry. Running one or two more won’t damage the dryer, but will make it work harder. Anything beyond that, and you’re risking real damage to the dryer itself and creating a serious fire hazard.
- Check the dryer hose, and potentially replace it. Most of us are familiar with the thin, undulating foil dryer hose snaking from the back of the machine to the exterior venting location. This is commonly used, especially in spaces where flexibility is required. However, flexible hose doesn’t stretch tightly (unless it is overextended, which will increase the likelihood that the hose will pop off the dryer). As a result, lint and dust can become lodged at the lowest part of the hose, eventually creating a blockage and fire hazard. Cleaning the hose regularly will help, but replacing it with a rigid metal hose will eliminate this particular issue. You’ll still have to clean out the rigid hose, because some lint will always make it past the filter, but it’s easier and more efficient to do so.
However, washers and dryers are likely to experience issues within 5 years of purchase.
According to a study performed by Consumer Reports, you can expect a honeymoon period for about 5 years after your purchase of a washer and dryer. The survey respondents indicated that about 70 percent of washers and 80 percent of dryers make it through the first 5 years without needing major repairs or replacement. With good care and maintenance, the appliances can remain trouble-free well beyond the first 5 years and continue to perform well.
Some of these common issues can be fixed by a handy owner, but some require the expertise of an experienced appliance repairman.
Many of the problems that can arise with a washer and dryer have two solutions: a common-sense solution for the owner to try first, and a more technical solution requiring someone with more know-how and experience. Power-on problems? Check the breaker box and make sure a breaker hasn’t been tripped before calling a repairman. Washer “walking” across the floor? Adjust the feet to level, or build a level platform with some plywood to create a level base. Leaks, significant drainage problems, and washers that don’t agitate or fill likely need a repair person, as something could be broken in the electronics or pump system, or an item such as a pencil or sock could be stuck in a washing machine. Because the system that handles water is so close to the electrical components, it’s best to let a qualified professional get in there to fix an issue if you don’t quite know what you’re doing.
Fixing washers and dryers can be expensive—but a home warranty can help significantly reduce the cost of washer and dryer repair, in addition to covering the cost of repairing other appliances and systems in the home.
If you keep finding yourself on the internet searching “how long do washing machines last” and “how long does a dryer last,” you may be nearing the end of the useful life of your appliances—or not. Experienced appliance repair professionals can work wonders with parts that aren’t particularly expensive for those who know what to do with them and how to install them. What’s not inexpensive is the labor that is necessary to open up the machine and get to the location of the problem, extract the damaged part, and replace it with a new one. Washers and dryers aren’t really designed for owner interference in the internal components, regardless of the quality of the YouTube video that you found, but many homeowners try it anyway. Why? Because calling repair people for service is expensive, and you’re rarely sure just how expensive until the problem is diagnosed.
Avoiding professional maintenance or trying to DIY complicated plumbing and electrical components leads to more significant (and expensive) problems. A home warranty, which is a service contract policy that you’ll pay for annually, covers the cost of maintenance, repair, and replacement of most household appliances and systems. Policies come in several forms (you can choose to cover only whole-home systems, only kitchen and laundry appliances, or a combination, and there are add-ons available in most cases) and are complementary to your homeowners insurance. The warranty is specifically designed to cover appliance failure due to regular wear and tear.
When you sign the policy, you’ll commit to a set service charge fee (usually between $75 and $125). Each time you need repair on a covered appliance (including washers and dryers), you’ll pay that flat fee for the repair person to come to your home, assess, and make the repair. If no repair can be made, the technician will indicate that the appliance needs replacement, and the warranty will cover replacement with a machine of similar cost and function. Especially if your appliances are older, this can be a great option: at no additional cost (or a minimal cost, if you’re looking for a significant upgrade), you can get a new, more efficient machine that will save on water and energy costs.
A home warranty from one of the best home warranty companies will provide this coverage for all appliances included in the policy, and for whole-house systems such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC if you’ve included them as well. Given the cost of laundry machines, a home warranty will pay for itself if you need even one of the machines replaced and will make it easier for you to budget for repairs and replacement. If you’re wondering, “How long do washers and dryers last?” and realizing that the endgame for your machines (and other appliances) is sooner than you’d like, consider purchasing a home warranty to protect your investments.