Our Old Carpet, Old Furnace, And Other Worn Out Stuff

Our house is 20 years old this year.  That’s getting to the point where many things original to the house are wearing out.  We already replaced our roof a few years back.  That was no fun!  But, now we’ve got a list of things that are getting old.  These things are probably soon ready for replacement.  All of the items are original to the house OR original when we bought it in 2007.

 

old washing machine
Our old washing machine is one of many items wearing down.

Our Old Furnace And Other Items That Are Getting Old

I came up with seven items around our house that will need replacement at some point.  Obviously, other things could break down, but based on their age or current status, these are things I expect will need attention.

Old Furnace

The furnace is working pretty well.  However, a few years ago we were told we have a cracked heat exchanger. Upon investigation with the repair company, we discovered that this was likely because our furnace is too big for our house.

How can a furnace be too large?  I didn’t understand this.  But the explanation actually makes sense.  A gas furnace produces a lot of heat, and that heat is designed to be distributed from the furnace to the house.  If the furnace is too big, it will in essence produce heat that can’t get distributed.  That heat then stays in the furnace itself.  The furnace isn’t designed to retain that heat so it will start cracking under pressure.  A cracked heat exchanger is common.

We have been able to alleviate this by opening all airflow throughout the house during the heating season.  This means that rooms are not evenly heated.  Prior to our diagnosis, we often minimized heat to some rooms and maximized it to others.

A damaged heat exchanger will end up releasing unsafe levels of carbon monoxide into the home.  The levels at the time of the diagnosis were ‘higher than normal’ but nowhere near dangerous levels.  The inspector told us we probably had a hairline crack. We have carbon monoxide detectors throughout the house and none have ever gone off.

Still, based on this and the overall age, I would expect the furnace to go at some point.

Deck

deck
Our old deck looks nothing like this nice, new one.

Plain and simple, our deck is starting to rot.  Nearest the edges it’s starting to rot away.  This hasn’t yet affected where anyone walks, but it will eventually move inward.  The boards are starting to crack in the middle.  These are all signs that the deck is old.  I had a professional come out last year and he said that the deck will need to be replaced.  He basically advised to ride it out as long as we could, but with wood around 20 years old, it’s simply time.

Hot Water Heater

Our hot water heater is original to the house.  We’ve not had any leaks, but I know it’s time for it to be replaced.  Many don’t make it this long, so I suppose we’re lucky.  The sign that it needs replacing is the loud banging that it’s started making when in use.

My research shows that this is because there’s a layer of sediment at the bottom of the tank.  We have very clean city water so it’s taken a long time to build up this layer.  Air bubbles form under the sediment, and when the water is being heated, they are out, which causes the loud banging we’re hearing.

One way we could have prevented this by draining the tank on a regular basis.  This is something I’ve never done, and frankly most people around us don’t do because of how clean the water supply is.  There’s thoughts that if you don’t do it every year, you should actually avoid doing it altogether, as draining after so long can create new problems.

Sump Pump

We replaced the sump pump shortly after we moved in.  So, it’s about 12 years old.  I’m assuming the one we replaced was original to the house, which would have put it around 8 years old.  I’ve seen that sump pumps used regularly should have an expected lifetime of around 10 years, so it’s probably time for a preventative replacement.  Ours does run quite often.  We do have a backup system in place, but it’s not robust enough to handle things for very long.

Carpet and Padding

We try to keep the carpets cleaned.  I have had them professionally cleaned several times, and own a personal carpet cleaner.  Still, wear and tear has worn down the carpet so that it doesn’t look so great.  Additionally, you can feel some bumps in various spots, which I’m guessing is probably the padding either breaking down or becoming uneven in spots underneath the carpet.

This isn’t a priority but it does make the house look a bit tired at times.

Washing Machine

The washing machine is about twelve years old.  These days, with appliances often barely lasting ten years, I know the time could come at any moment.  We bought one of the earlier front-loading machines, and it’s always been a pain.  We have to keep the door open otherwise mold grows inside.  Additionally, we have to pull out the contraption that holds the detergent, bleach and fabric softener, or that area gets moldy.  Really nice design.  These have supposedly since been corrected.  We’ve also had the gasket replaced twice from it breaking down.  The current one has always leaked.  So, we have a rust spot down the front of the machine.

The long and short is that it works, but it has always been and still is kind of a piece of junk.  It could last another five or ten years, or it could stop working next week.  Neither would honestly surprise me.

Windows

We have a couple of windows that have had failed seals.  You can tell because condensation forms between the two panes of glass.  The windows that have failed face west, and take most of the afternoon sun.  Unfortunately, one of these is in our master bedroom.  The windows themselves still work, but when a seal fails, it effectively becomes a single pane window for insulation purposes.

Lawn Mower

We bought a new lawn mower the year after we moved in.  So that’s about eleven years old.  It runs fine, and could very well last a long time.  I change the oil regularly and have had various parts replaced.  Still, I’ve seen people with mowers newer than mine buy replacements.  It’s something to keep an eye on.

Snow Blower

My snow blower is over 30 years old.  It was passed on my from my parents.  My dad remembers buying it sometime in the early 1980’s.  I had a major overhaul done a few years ago.  It got new paddles, a new scraper bar, the whole works.  Recently, I had to have the clutch switch fixed.  The guy at the repair shop told me that parts are pretty scarce these days.  There are so few left that after-market or salvage parts are hard to come by.

Pine Trees

We have two pine trees in front of our house.  They were probably once very nice, but are to the point where they probably need to come down.  They’ve grown together which has created a lot of dead area on both trees.  They touch the house, which I don’t like.  I figure that stains the siding, and gives creatures easy access to the roof.  The kicker is that three similar size trees to ours have blown down recently in nearby yards.  So, the best thing is to have them taken out, ground down, and a new tree put in place.  I think I’ll just do a single pine tree instead of two.

14 thoughts on “Our Old Carpet, Old Furnace, And Other Worn Out Stuff”

  1. We’ve been in the same house for forty years and counting. We have replaced one washer and one drier, one refrigerator and one outside HVAC unit. The water heaters are fine and they’ve never been drained. Like most people we’ve gotten rid of carpet in most of the rooms and gone with hardwood, laminate and concrete floors but the carpet that is left is the original stuff. So you may be counting out some of the older stuff prematurely. We have replaced all of the windows, however, and I’ve had to buy my wife at least four riding mowers for a very large yard. No basements or sump pumps in the south, you can’t have a basement because of the high water table. What is a snow blower?

    • You could be right. We’ll have to see. I know I’ve seen a number of neighbors have to replace their AC and furnace over the years, and they were all installed around the same time. The carpet itself, as mentioned, is just starting to look bad. The washer could die tomorrow or last another 15 years, and neither would surprise me. All I know is I hate that thing.

  2. We were told the same thing about our new furnace adventure! Our furnace that was put in was too large to spread the heat through the ductwork sizes we have. The new one being put in is actually smaller but more efficient and like you, the repairman said that the heat can’t get through the house so that’s why it short cycled. It’s possible it did this it’s entire life, but we never knew until our thermostat alerted us to it. Wild how so many houses may have furnaces too large for their home size!

    • My guess is that the builder installed the same furnace in all of the homes built at the same time as ours, regardless of square footage. So it’s probably ‘right sized’ for some of the homes that have a few hundred more square feet than ours does.

  3. We have been in our home for 9 years and it is 40 years old. This means some things that have already been replaced are nearing their end. We are expecting to replace our hot water tank and some carpeting this year. Could also use new windows in the kids’ bedrooms. Put in a new bathroom and replanted grass last year. Homeownership really requires so much ongoing work, especially if you DIY. But it needs to be maintained and of course helps its values for if/when we ever sell.

  4. Phew, that’s a lot of stuff looming on the financial horizon!

    We had to replace the water heater a few years back, but goodness only knows how old it was. Luckily, nothing got damaged when it leaked everywhere (our sign that perhaps it needed replacing — at least you’ve gotten some warning!).

    Good luck with all the replacements. Hopefully, you can do them slowly over time. I’ll think good thoughts about your washer lasting a while longer.

  5. Yes, we have a running list of “stuff to keep an eye on” too! We love to travel, so using the necessary purchases to meet spending on a card and earn points takes at least a little of the sting out of it (although money in the bank is always better than airline points on a card!). We just bought again after renting for a couple years, and although we are both very definitely homeowners at heart, and really prefer it to renting – it sure is nice when someone else has to foot the expenses!

  6. Sounds like about par for the homeowner course! You’ll want to watch that washing machine, Consumer Reports puts their average life right at 10-12 years.

    Our house just passed the 20-year-old mark and we have a host of similar maintenance and upgrade items on our list that I put off for years while putting in long hours at my last job.

    Our furnace and water heater are both original to the house and past their expected useful life. They’re also both builder’s grade and not very efficient. Like you, we also have some failed window seals and a deck that is in need of replacement.

    Our list includes replacing (and re-locating) the furnace and water heater, replacing all of our windows, and installing a water softener and central A/C.

    It won’t be cheap, but we’ve been planning for it. And as an efficiency geek, I’m excited about the gains in energy efficiency and comfort when it’s all done. That’s not to mention the experience (read blood, sweat, and tears) I’ll gain (shed?) from the DIY element.

    An emergency fund protects your finances — and stress level — from disaster. But I think we homeowners can give our emergency funds their OWN layer of proper defense by carefully monitoring household appliance lifespans and performing preventative maintenance. Looks like you are obviously on top of it!

    • Our furnace and water heater are in the center of the house, which I like. So I’ve never given any thought to moving them. I know my parents are both on one side of the house, and trying to get hot water to the opposite side of the house can take seemingly forever!

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