When to Replace Common Household Items

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Replacing Common Household Items

As a homeowner, you know that nothing lasts forever. You constantly need to be away of your common household items that regularly need to be replaced in your home for best performance. Doing so may actually save you money as well as avoid any major problems that can occur down the road.

So how long do you need to check and replace common household items? Browse through the list below and make notes so you know when you need to do it yourself.

Air Filters

Replace after: 6 months
Why: Filters become clogged with dirt and other particles, reducing the energy efficiency of your heating and cooling systems. See more air conditioner tips and air conditioner check-up information.


Replace after: 4 years
Why: Unless you’re using your computer for very basic functions (i.e., word processing), technology will have likely advanced enough that you need a significant upgrade. Rather than trying to put a new processor into an old computer, you’re typically better off buying new. With laptops, there isn’t much you can do to upgrade them. Upgrading your desktop is possible, but unless you’re a technology whiz, that process can be as expensive as buying a new computer (and infinitely more complicated).


Replace after: 3 months – 2 years
Why: Microbe growth in makeup can cause skin irritations and infections. The worst offenders are liquid cosmetics, which build up bacteria more quickly. Keep mascara for a maximum of 3 months; other liquids and creams (eyeliner, foundation) for no more than 1 year. Powders (eyeshadow, blush) can be used safely for up to 2 years.

Fire Extinguishers

Replace after: 10 – 12 years
Why: The pressurized contents of a fire extinguisher de-pressurize over time. Eventually, it just becomes a block of ‘stuff’ inside the cylinder – rendering it useless in fighting fires. Extinguishers can deteriorate faster if left in a high-humidity environment. Check your extinguisher on a monthly basis for corrosion, a sure sign air is leaking out.


Replace after: 7 years
Why: Mattresses wear out over time. One that sags or is uneven won’t keep your spine in line as you sleep, which means you may have trouble sleeping. It’s likely you’ll also experience neck and back pain while awake. There’s also an ick factor to old mattresses – they collect dust, dirt and allergens that can’t be removed.


Replace after: 2 years
Why: Exposure to light, heat and air lighten and alter perfume – it weakens the scent.


Replace after: 2 years
Why: Pressure on the pillow as you sleep causes it to flatten, and develop uncomfortable bumps and lumps. To test if your pillow still has life in it, fold it in half and rest your hand on top for 30 seconds. Then let go. If the pillow pops back, it’s fine. If it remains folded, it’s time to buy a new one.

Running/Walking Shoes

Replace after: 300 – 500 miles run
Why: Foam-like material in the mid-sole of the shoe stops bouncing back. You lose the shock-absorbing capacity which can lead to heel and arch pain, or even stress fractures. Judge how much life is left in your shoes by the way they feel. When a running shoe becomes uncomfortable, it’s time to toss it. You can lengthen the life of your running shoes by alternating between two pairs. That gives the foam mid-sole time to decompress between runs.

Smoke Alarms

Replace after: 10 years
Why: Constant stress on a smoke detector’s sensors from particles in the air – everything from cigarette smoke to pet dander to pollen – render it unreliable. Its ability to sense smoke deteriorates. The result will be one of two extremes: either the smoke detector will sound the alarm for just about anything, or it won’t go off at all.


Replace after: 1 year
Why: Dried herbs and spices lose their flavor over time. Whole spices, such as star anise or coriander, may last slightly longer – less of the spice is exposed to the air. To tell if your spices are past their prime, open the bag or jar and take a whiff. If there’s no scent, there won’t be any flavor.


Replace after: 3 months
Why: Toothbrush bristles frayed from use remove plaque less effectively than those of a new brush. Swapping out your brush will also limit exposure to bacteria that build up on the bristles.

Water Heater

Replace after: 1 – 2 years
Why: You regularly need to perform water heater maintenance in your home because hot water heating is typically the third largest energy expense in a home, after space heating and cooling. Corrosion is the primary cause of premature tank failure so make sure to follow a solid water heater maintenance plan. Tanks should be flushed at least annually. Try at least once every couple years to have your water heater inspected by a certified plumbing technician. These water heater tips will keep it in optimal operating condition, and will prevent dangerous carbon monoxide problems.

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