Last time I bought a water heater, the tech informed me that there was no way I’d get twenty-two years out of the new 28-gallon tank the way I did out of the old 30-gallon tank; were I fortunate, I might get six. And actually, the previous owners of this house got the first sixteen years, but you know what I mean:
When we first started making industrial machinery, everything was designed to last forever. Yes, there was maintenance to be performed, oil to be changed, bearings to be replaced, but it you followed instructions your machine would last forever. Now the economics of manufacturing have changed. Diagnosis and repair are rare skills embodied by only a few people of exceptional abilities (a little self promotion never hurts, I’m told). Put those together, along with the large number of Asians who are willing and able to follow directions for a few kopecks a day means that is cheaper to build new ones than repair old ones.
Which should be our model going into the future? Dutiful maintenance of big, solid machines? Or continual replacement of chickenshit consumer goods? My opinion (and yours) don’t matter. There are proponents of both approaches. They will either succeed or fail. They both may survive, or one or the other, or even both may fail.
Speaking of “survive,” the “new” water heater is within two months of its tenth birthday. It has required service once, at about half the price of a brand new tank.