Replace or repair: How to handle your plumbing fixtures

If you’re considering a few upgrades in your home and need to decide if the plumbing fixtures need to be replaced or still have life remaining, there are a few factors to consider. Whether the plumbing feature is a small expense, like the bathroom faucet, or a costlier job, like a failing water heater, how you evaluate the elements doesn’t change.

Consider the age

We’d all love it if the plumbing elements in our home lasted forever, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. How you care for your plumbing can go a long way in extending the life of the pipes and fixtures, but age eventually takes its toll on even the highest quality parts. Here are the life expectancies of some of the most commonly repaired and replaced plumbing fixtures:

  • Kitchen or bathroom faucet: 12-15 years (depending on quality)
  • Shower heads: 8-10 years when cleaned regularly
  • Water heaters: 10-12 years
  • Shower doors: 15-20 years
  • Pipes: 50-80 years (depending on material)
  • Water filtration system: 10-12 years
  • Garbage disposal: 8-15 years

Consider the age of the elements before you continue to pour money into repairs. If the piece is nearing its expected lifespan, it’s probably better to invest in a new unit rather than keep making repairs.

Cost of repair vs. replacement

Even when a piece of your plumbing still has life left to give, if the cost to replace the piece is comparable to the repair, go for a new unit. For example, the average hourly cost to repair a garbage disposal is about $28. A new unit can be purchased at your local hardware store for about $85. Save yourself the hassle of finding a plumber and forking over money for a repair and replace the entire piece. If the repair is significantly less and the plumbing piece should last for years to come, opt for the fix.

Future in the home

When it comes to major expenses you should evaluate how long you plan to be in the home. Does the cost of the replacement make sense for your family’s future? The average homeowner stays in one house for about seven years. Evaluate whether you’ll see the return on investing a large amount of money into your plumbing system. If a short term fix is better suited for your long term goals, it may be better to make the repair. If, however, you plan to be in your home for the foreseeable future, making a capital investment isn’t so daunting.

Do you research and request multiple estimates for a repair and replacement project. Compare the benefits to determine whether it’s best for you to make an investment in your home or opt for the repair.

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