Consumer NZ reveals how long people's household appliances should last

The life spans may come as a surprise for some.
The life spans may come as a surprise for some. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

Fridges, vacuums and washing machines are just some of the essential household items that you must throw a fair amount of cash at, but how long should they last?   

Consumer NZ has looked behind the fridge and found the lifespan of many staple household appliances, which may take Kiwis "by surprise".  

Based on life expectancy figures for mid-range appliances that receive reasonable use and care, Consumer NZ has thrown an expected expiry date on some of our favorite appliances.   

So, what's the verdict?

Consumer NZ reveals how long people's household appliances should last
Photo credit: Consumer NZ

Consumer head of test Paul Smith said the initial cost of an appliance, how much it is used and how well it's looked after will determine how well it performs and "ultimately how long it will last".  

"If you buy a top-end brand or a budget option, you should adjust your expectations accordingly."

Kitchen appliances 

Smith said a dishwasher should last about 10 years but admits they do lead a "hard life" and tend to be used at least daily in most households.   

"If you regularly clean your dishwasher and look after it well, it should serve you well in return. 

"Manufacturers tend to hold onto spare parts for older models, so if your older appliance breaks down, repair should be an option."  

Fridges, freezers and combo models should last about 11 years, according to Smith. He said while faulty thermostats and damaged door seals a worth replacing, "if your appliance suffers a major fault after its 10th anniversary you should seriously consider a replacement".  

Oven and stoves took the title for a long life, not only in the kitchen but across the board. Smith said ovens and stoves should last about 15 years.   

"We recommend repairing your oven or stove until spare parts are hard to come by," he said.   

"Broken oven doors can generally be repaired, blown thermostats and elements can be swapped out but broken fans and electronic modules can be expensive to fix."  

Microwaves or benchtop ovens, meanwhile, should last about eight years.   

"Microwave repairs tend to be costly. Depending on how long you've had the microwave, you may be able to get it fixed under the CGA (Consumer Guarantees Act) or manufacturer's warranty."  

Laundry life 

Consumer NZ believes a washing machine and clothes dryer should last about a decade.  

And you'd hope so too - they are not cheap appliances.   

However, Smith said common washing machine failures can often be fixed.  

"If your washing machine pump gets blocked, you might be able to clear it yourself. If your machine's drum is playing up or something doesn't sound right, you should call an expert for a repair quote."  

He said replacement parts are available for a vented dryer and, if replaced, "it could last well beyond a decade".   

Looking for a new dryer? Smith recommends finding a model with a sensor, which will prevent your clothes from over-drying and wasting energy.    

While stick vacuums are becoming more and more popular, Smith said they are outlived by their corded counterparts.    

A cordless vacuum usually lasts about five years, whereas a corded model should last about eight years. "You could reduce the life expectancy of a corded vac if you use it to suck up powder, like plaster dust," Smith said.   

"The most common faults with cordless vacs are related to the battery or charger - parts that are usually easy to replace."  

Netflix and chill 

Consumer NZ believes a TV should last about eight years. Smith said repairing an old TV can be complicated and costly.    

"You should expect the operating system of a smart TV to remain supported throughout the life of the TV. However, many people report connection issues and apps that won't work properly.  

"We recommend bypassing the smart TV functions in favour of an external device, like a Chromecast." 

Laptops and desktop computers should last about five years, according to Consumer NZ. But, according to US Consumer Reports, about one in three laptops fail by their fourth year.    

"Keeping your antivirus protection up to date will go some way to protecting your device from early demise," Smith said.   

"If your device starts to fail after five years, it would probably be better to repair than replace."

Extended warranties when things turn south 

Consumer NZ said Kiwis have protections under the CGA, Under the law, retailers must guarantee any product purchased for personal use is of acceptable quality.  

This means the goods must do what they are made to do, have an acceptable appearance, be free from minor defects and be safe and durable.  

Smith said because of the law, extended warranties and car programmes are "often not worth the paper they're written on" because the consumer is already protected by the CGA.   

"If your appliance fails before its time is up, provided you haven't caused the fault, the retailer has to put things right. 

"Appliances must last a reasonable length of time but it is unrealistic to expect a product will be fault free."  

Smith said "reasonable" is the key word - a retailer must put things right if a fault occurs and a reasonable consumer would not expect the fault to have occurred.   

"Don't be fobbed off by a retailer telling you it doesn't have to fix a faulty product because it's 'out of warranty.'" 

Right to repair 

The easier and cheaper a product is to repair, the longer it should last.  

"We're calling for mandatory repairability labelling. In the same way that Energy Ratings tell you how efficient a product is to use, a repairability label would tell you how easy it is to repair," Smith said.