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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.