Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 50 seconds
I’ve recently entered into several conversations about how long things should last. What a great question. “It depends” I usually respond. Is it me or did big ticket items used to be built to last several decades. We believed that American made as an example meant the darn thing should last a hell of a long time and was therefore a great value.
We figured that when we bought anything from a car to a furnace, that you were paying a premium for a reason. (I still drive my 1960 sports car as an example)
The paradigm shift
Times have changed. Since the ’80’s it seems like everything is built to be thrown away. Am I nuts or have you felt it too? It has always pissed me off because of the John Ruskin phrase I like to use “There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and he who considers price only is that man’s lawful prey.” which is a race to the bottom mentality.
My mind has been slowly blown by the idea that perhaps it is a good thing after all. What has become fairly obvious to me is that there may be a good reason to allow things to fail sooner.
Technology is advancing faster than they wear out. This leaves us with terribly inefficient devices that are lasting longer than they should. Perhaps the pendulum will swing back again when we get over this unsustainable pace of advancements.
I still sort of believe that the status quo is maintained until someone rocks the boat and innovates. In my industry, our omnipresent government is responsible for mandating safer things (thanks Mr. Nader) or more efficient things be built thus eliminating the old stuff from the shelves of the country.
Would we be a better safer society without people watching out for us? I survived not having seat belts during my youth. And these school zones, when are kids going to learn their lessons about looking both ways if the cars are going so slow. There goes natural selection right out the window.
Thankfully, we Idahoans still allow motorcyclists to not wear helmets if over 18 years old, so we at least still have that.
A few case studies
- Toilets and other plumbing fixtures. Low flow was mandated (January-1st-1994)
- Lead based paint: no longer available after (December 31st 1977)
- Higher efficiency water heaters (April 16th 2015)
- Anti-scalding plumbing fixtures (1992 ish)
Where does this leave us?
In a recent internet search I discovered that water heaters should last an average of 16 years. Armed with this information I recently replaced one for a friend that had failed but was on the 16 year cusp. Rather than having me fix it … which I am certain I could, she had me replace it. (Smart cookie? I think so).
The following week, a fellow shopper at a favorite haunt (Grover’s Pay & Pack) was buying a new dip tube for his water heater. WHY? When will we catch up with ourselves? Don’t get me wrong I love to fix stuff too but for cryin’ out loud people, when will we learn that getting rid of the old inefficient appliances (read energy hogs) is the right thing to do? Idaho Power gets it. They will come out and do an energy audit and provide rebates for replacing old lighting.
We just saved a client over $500 on a commercial building in incentives for switching from metal halide and High pressure sodium lighting to all LED.
Join me in helping folks garner a deeper understanding of how long stuff should last. Fortunately at Levco, remodeling projects, are created the old fashion way, with “A built to last at least a few decades mentality” and will likely outlast their components.
Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, click here to email me directly, or call 208-947-7261
If you or someone you know is considering remodeling or just wants to speak to a trustworthy remodeling contractor please contact me, you’ll be glad you did.
Disclaimer: Some of these images came from the WEB. If they are yours, and you object to them being used, please claim them and I will gladly remove and replace them at once.
I do these things (water heater replacement) during non-Levco time to be sure it doesn’t interfere with the Remodeling business. Repairing things and understanding homes is just another passion of mine.
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Good Post Joe! Intresting topic and well written!
Thanks Kerrie, this one took some time to get out of my head. Glad you enjoyed it.