Yes, we know, it sounds very doom and gloom to “prepare for failure.”  However, the sad reality is that most things within your home are quite transient and will, at some point, fail you.  The worst thing is to be caught off guard when a big ticket home item finally decides to give up the ghost.  The solution?  It is simple, whether in your own home, or in the buildings and facilities of your community.  Prepare.   Prepare for failure.

Water Heater

Odds are, you probably give very little thought to this steadfast and vital member of your household.  And really, why would you?  Your water heater works tirelessly, day in and day out without complaint, ever-reliable, ever-faithful.  That is, of course, until it doesn't.  When your water heater does finally put in its last day, you will surely be thinking (quite hard actually) about all of the duties that it fulfilled.  Feel like taking a nice, hot shower after a long, hard day?  Not without a water heater you won’t.  Welcome to a very brisk bathing experience.  Plan on doing some laundry?  Dishes?  Yeah, not likely.  It is amazing how quickly one realizes the necessity of hot water once it is not available *literally* at the push of a button.  

So how long should you expect to get out of this very one-sided relationship that you need so dearly?  While the exact amount of time you’ll have together will vary depending on the care that you have taken over the years. Most standard tank-type water heaters will last somewhere between 8 and 12 years, with tankless styles lasting somewhere around 20 years.  If you are nearing the end, you should start budgeting for a replacement, so that you do not find yourself stuck boiling your bath water.  Like anything, the price to replace your water heater will depend on your area, but if you are looking to have a tank-style heater installed, the national average is around 1,200 bucks.

Air Conditioning Unit

True, central air conditioning systems are incredibly modern amenities, and not strictly necessary for comfortable living.  Yet, do you really want to test how well your family can get along when they are all hot, irritable and glistening with sweat in the throes of one of the hottest summers on record?  We thought not.  Most quality-made systems, that have been well cared for and maintained, will last around 15 years, give or take.  If that date is approaching, or your system is showing signs of failure, like unhappy grinding or rattling sounds, or a noticeable decrease in performance, then it is likely time to start looking around for replacement.  Here, your options are wide, and the cost associated with those options will vary greatly.  To oversimplify, you should expect to pay between 5,000 and 12,000 dollars to keep your cool, depending on the size of your home, and how fancy you want to get.  

Furnace

Just as you enjoy a nice cool (manufactured) breeze though your home in the summer, we are guessing that you enjoy the soothing, warm air pumped through your home’s vents when the temperatures begin to drop.  If so, then you’ll want to be on top of the lifespan of your home’s furnace.  Typically, you can expect your furnace to continue to faithfully warm your heart and home for around 15 - 20 years.  If you begin to notice that your furnace is starting and stopping often, leaking water, or that your bill has spiked (when temperatures have remained moderate), then you may be nearing your final goodbyes with this fiery friend.  You’ll want to prepare to spend a pretty penny to replace this integral part of your home.  According to fixr.com, you should expect to spend somewhere between 4,000 and 8,000 dollars, with the average homeowner dropping about 6,000 bucks.