Your home’s internal systems are what keep your family safe, secure, and comfortable. But what “systems” do we mean, and how long can you expect them to last before they need to be replaced?

According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, there’s a multitude of interlocking parts and products that ensure the smooth functioning of your daily life, both on the inside and the outside of your house.

In this article, we’ll outline the components of each one and how many years of good performance they should provide — and when you should have them checked to ensure that everything is in good working order.


Chicagoland has a rich heritage going back almost 200 years, and you’ll see many historic buildings in the region with many different styles of roofing. Most residential homes in the Midwest have roofs that are specifically designed to handle the massive amount of snow we receive during the winter.

The most common styles of roofs in our area include:

  • Hipped
  • Gabled
  • Dutch Gabled
  • Mansard
  • Gambrel
  • Saltbox

When you buy a new roof for your home, your installation company should provide you with a warranty and an estimate of how long it will last. If you’re purchasing a house, getting a home inspection will give you an excellent estimate of how much longer your roof will last or if you need to have it replaced as soon as possible.

Depending on the outer material (shingles, coating), it should last from 10-30 years, extreme weather and natural disasters notwithstanding. However, if you notice any interior signs of leaks or water damage, call an inspector immediately.

Asphalt shingle roofs, the most common roof type for single-family homes in Chicago, can be installed in two “layers”, at two separate times. That means that a brand new roof will be one layer, and somewhere down the road, a roofer can install a second “new roof” over the existing one. When that second layer’s useful life expires, it will be time for a full “tear off” roof. Ask your inspector “how many layers” you have when purchasing your next home. 


This is arguably the most important system in your house. Your plumbing keeps the toilets flushing, faucets working, and serves appliances like your dishwasher, washing machine, hot water heater, and more.

There are also many elements that could break or deteriorate over time. Depending on the age of your home, you may have elderly cast-iron or copper waste pipes that should be evaluated and replaced if needed.

Your plumbing system also encompasses tubs, sinks, showers, PVC or concrete water lines, and hoses. While these items can last up to a century, it’s always smart to have them examined by a licensed expert before something dreadful happens. 


HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and it also includes air exchangers, chimneys, ductwork, furnaces, gas, thermostats, and various fans throughout the dwelling.

Absolutely vital in Chicago’s full-spectrum climate, this system regulates the household temperature and lets you stay nice and warm in the winter and safely cool in the summer.

Many of these elements will last you 10 years or more, with a forced air furnace lasting 15-20 years on average. Similarly, central air conditioners, condensing units, and dehumidifiers can last 15-20 with regular maintenance, but if left unchecked, can conk out after only 7-8 years.


Faulty wiring and damaged electrical systems are the leading cause of deadly fires, so you should definitely get this checked, especially as we constantly have more high-tech gadgets and convenient appliances.

Electrical wiring in a home built prior to 1985 should be evaluated, but properly installed copper wiring can easily last more than 50, and as many as 100 years. Lighting and fixtures can last 20 years plus. Just be sure to keep things unplugged when not in use, never overload your power outlets — and don’t attempt to do any electrical work if you don’t have experience. 


The structural integrity of your home depends on your walls, ceilings, doors, framing, and foundation. These elements of your home are built to last for the most part, with a life expectancy of 50 years or more.

However, with more extreme weather conditions occurring more often, it never hurts to get a professional opinion. For the highest energy efficiency, invest in quality doors and windows with professional installation. 


From hardwood and concrete to plush carpeting, the flooring in your house plays a vital role in keeping your family safe while also displaying your personality and design choices. 

Carpet goes in and out of style, and typically only lasts around 5-8 years (and may be considered tacky before that). Modern bamboo flooring, on the other hand, can look amazing for decades. 

Many house flippers love laminate because it’s durable, inexpensive, and looks relatively good, but keep in mind that these low-cost options can start showing wear and tear quickly. 


Not every home includes a full kitchen of new stainless steel appliances, but many come with at least a few of these household conveniences you can’t live without.

These include:

  • Window unit ACs
  • Dishwashers
  • Garbage disposals
  • Freezers
  • Refrigerators
  • Microwaves
  • Ovens
  • Laundry machines

The life expectancy of these items depends on their usage. Many homeowners also prefer to replace these appliances while they’re still working due to renovations or new technology.

According to Consumer Reports, window AC units typically are only effective for 8-10  years or so but cause a great deal of misery when they break unexpectedly. Washing machines are good for about 5,100 loads of laundry, which is seven loads a week for about 14 years. 

Get Peace of Mind

Whether you’re buying your first place or you’ve been a homeowner for many years, hiring a licensed and detail-oriented home inspector can save you from a world of hassle.

Costly repairs, flooding, fires — why risk it when a thorough inspection is at your fingertips? Our team has many years of experience in Chicagoland homes, and you can rely on us to help you understand and control your home’s many necessary systems. 

If you’re ready to breathe easier, give us a call today to schedule a consultation with one of our expert technicians.