Common Residential Plumbing Items — Repair or Replace?


While some of our household items come with expiration dates, that’s not the case with fixtures and appliances and it’s not always easy to know when something needs replacing. Here’s what to know about the average lifespan of common residential plumbing items, so you can make the decision about repairing or replacing.

Water Heater

The average lifespan of a residential water heater is between 8 and 12 years. Older models are far less efficient than new water heaters, so if yours is eight years or older, it’s a financially savvy move to consider upgrading. If you’ve noticed that your water isn’t as hot as it used to be, check the thermostat. If moving it up by a few degrees doesn’t resolve the issue, it’s worth getting it inspected. River City Plumbing here in Reno and Sparks can check for leaks and make recommendations if you’re interested in learning more about upgrading to an energy-efficient model.


Toilets have a lengthy service life of up to fifty years. But again, older models have their drawbacks. Here in the high desert, water conservation should be a way of life. Older toilets can be surprisingly wasteful, and upgrading will ensure that you’re minimizing water waste with every flush. Cracks, leaks, or regular repairs are all signs that replacement is likely in order.


The average dishwasher should last between 7 and 12 years. The rule of thumb for large appliances like dishwashers and washing machines is to repair whatever you can while it’s still under warranty. If it isn’t, ask specifically about the nature of the repair. A gasket replacement is a simple fix, but once you start moving into motors, pumps, and electronics, things get expensive fast and a replacement may actually end costing less in the long run.

Pipes & Fixtures

Life expectancies for pipes and fixtures vary depending on their material. PVC pipes typically last between 25 to 40 years, while copper, brass, and cast iron can go decades longer. Other factors and variables can play a role in longevity for pipes and fixtures as well, including maintenance level and seismic activity. If you’re noticing leaks, issues with water quality, or any damage, it’s worth an expert’s opinion. 

The Takeaway

Tune-ups and repairs can be the right approach for many plumbing issues, but that’s not always the case. Fortunately, upgrading to today’s energy-efficient models can often qualify for tax credits and rebates. Learn more about repairing or replacing your home’s plumbing fixtures and appliances — contact River City Plumbing today. Remember we offer 24/7 emergency service. We’re here when you need us!

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