Q: My house is less than 10 years old and some of the appliances are starting to wear out. First it was the garbage disposal, had to buy a new one. Then it was the sink faucet — they gave me a new one. Now it’s the bath fans. One of the fans is making so much noise we no longer use it. Did I buy a lemon or is this to be expected?
A: Whether it’s a new car or a new home, appliances have a limited life expectancy and have to be repaired, maintained or replaced.
I would suggest to all homebuyers that upon purchase of a home they should start a roofing and appliance replacement savings account, or what I will call ARSA.
When the time comes to replace things around the home, the money is available from the ARSA account and you do not have to take out a second loan just to keep the home in operation. For instance, it will cost approximately $4,500 to remove and replace the shingles on a standard 1,500-square foot home. That can be difficult for a homeowner who is living paycheck to paycheck. A general rule of thumb to use for adding to your ARSA is to determine the useful life expectancy of some of the home’s major appliances (average estimated costs do not include labor):
▪ Garbage disposals: five to 10 years, replacement costs $100 to $250
▪ Refrigerator: eight to 14 years, replacement costs $550 to $4,500
▪ Clothes washer: seven to 10 years, replacement costs $350 to $1,200
▪ Clothes dryer: seven to 10 years, replacement costs $300 to $800
▪ Microwaves: approximately five years, replacement costs $300 to $500
A bath fan costs between $75 and $230, but you may be able to quiet the fan yourself. The cover on the fan housing can be pulled loose from the ceiling fan housing. Once the cover is loose, use your hand to compress the V-shaped spring on either side of the cover. The cover can now be removed. Use a vacuum cleaner brush or crevice attachment to remove as much of the dust as possible. When the bath fan’s blades are dirty, the rotating blades wobble off center and this causes the fan to rattle or squeal. You can clean the plastic cover using water and a paper towel.
C. Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him at C. Dwight Barnett, Evansville Courier & Press, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, Ind. 47702 or e-mail him at d.Barnett@insightbb.com.