FAQ: How Long Will It Last?


The most common type of heating system in the Rochester area is a gas fired forced air furnace. The life expectancy of a typical furnace can vary depending on the quality of the unit and how well it is maintained. In this respect, it is much like a car. Higher quality cars that are kept well maintained will end up providing a greater number of worry free miles. Even a basic brand of gas forced air furnace should last at least 15 years if it is well maintained. Average-to-good quality furnaces should provide 20-25 years of useful life.


Hot water boilers are also a common type of heating system in our area. As with furnaces, the quality and materials of the unit and the frequency of routine maintenance can affect overall life. On average, boilers tend to provide a greater number of years of life. 30 to 40 years is not unusual. Many heating contractors will push for heating system replacement based strictly on the fuel savings that may be obtained by installing a new and more efficient furnace or boiler. It is our experience that it is difficult to justify replacement of a working furnace or boiler based solely on fuel cost savings. We have found that the cost of replacement is such that the “payback” from fuel savings tends to be relatively long.

Air Conditioners

A typical residential air conditioner will usually provide 15-20 years of reliable service. Once again, proper routine maintenance will result in reliable and long life. The number of run-hours also has an effect. If the house is in the shade, the air conditioner might not run as often and it can last longer.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are essentially air conditioning units that work in reverse. They provide both heating and air conditioning. Their life expectancy is shorter than air conditioning units because the number of run hours is significantly higher. Average life of a heat pump is closer to 10 to 15 years.

Water Heaters

Residential tank-type water heaters usually last between 10 and 15 years. Unlike furnaces, routine maintenance is less critical; especially with homes on a good municipal water system. Hard well water can adversely affect the life of a water heater.

Asphalt Roofing

The vast majority of residential roofs in the Rochester area are asphalt shingle. For years the majority of these roofs were a standard “three-in-one” asphalt shingle with a life expectancy of about 20 years.
In more recent years “architectural” grade roofs have become more the norm. These roofs come in various grades. Their life expectancy is often published as 25 years, 30 years, 40 years, and more. The actual average life is between 20 and 25 years.

Plumbing Pipes

Supply and waste pipes in homes will last for generations. It can be necessary to replace old galvanized supply pipes due to corrosion, sediment buildup, etc. Also, cast or steel drain pipes can rust or crack, necessitating replacement. Restrictions or blockages can also occur in very old waste pipes. Modern copper supply piping and PVC waste piping rarely need to be replaced.


Homeowners also ask us if or when wiring needs to be replaced. Although modern type NM (Romex) wiring is likely to be safer than very old wiring, it is somewhat of a stretch to assume that old wire is “unsafe”. Many very old houses have “knob and tube” wiring. Although a great deal of this wiring remains in service today, it is not protected against damage as well as modern wiring and the best approach is to replace this wiring if, or when, it is found. Old wiring becomes brittle and more difficult to work with.


If well maintained, windows can last for generations. They do not have an anticipated life expectancy. Certainly, windows should be replaced if they are rotted or damaged beyond repair. There are advantages to replacing old windows with modern thermopane windows, including energy efficiency, low maintenance, easy cleaning, etc. However, modern replacement windows can be costly and they are very difficult to justify based on energy cost savings.

Exterior Paint

Another question that is asked is, “How long will a paint job last on the exterior of my wood sided house?” The longevity of a paint job will vary greatly with the condition of the surface, how well the surface was prepared, the exposure to the weather (sun, rain, etc.) and the quality of the paint. High quality paint applied properly to wood could last as long as 10 years. South and west exposures might not hold paint as long.

*This blog was contributed by our good friends at Warren Engineering.
Check out there website here!
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