If you are one of the health- or weight-conscious people out there or simply one of the many trying to lose weight, you very well know the love-hate relationship with bathroom scales. Nevertheless, a trusty bathroom scale is like a good old friend who is not afraid to tell you the truth.
But just like everything else, bathroom scales fail with years of use—even the good ones. That brings us to a series of valid questions: “How long does a bathroom scale last? And, how do you know it’s time to give it a rest?”
What are the Different Types of Bathroom Scales?
Before answering the question of how long does a bathroom scale last, let’s get to know first the different types of bathroom scales?
There are two types of bathroom weighing scales. One is the traditional bathroom scale also known as the mechanical or analog scale. The second one is the digital scale or electronic scale.
The analog bathroom weighing scale has a pointer set against a rotating dial with line markings, which stills itself at a line that reflects your weight. On the other hand, the digital bathroom scale has a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen that shows your weight in whole numbers with decimal points. Compared to analog bathroom scales, the digital ones show more reliable results.
And depending on the kind of electronic bathroom scale you are getting, it may provide you with information such as body fat percentage, muscle mass, water weight, and metabolic age on top of your weight measurement. Digital bathroom scales are also fitted with smart features such as Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity, auto user recognition, and a smart app synchronization capability.
While digital bathroom scales have an upper hand over the analog ones in terms of precision and additional features, analog bathroom scales generally outlive them.
So, How Long Does a Bathroom Scale Last?
There’s no easy answer as to how long your bathroom scale will last. But there are two factors that will determine its lifespan. One is the quality of the materials and the make. Obviously, the better the materials and the construction the longer your bathroom scale will last. A good bathroom scale should survive years of use.
To further figure out how long does a bathroom scale last, first, check out the warranty that comes with it. While it can surely die on you before its time or survive past its expiry date, the warranty will somehow give you a clue if something is built to last.
A second consideration is the handling. If you’re one to take out your frustration on your bathroom scale, then prepare yourself to buy a bathroom scale every week. Seriously though, if you treat your stuff well, it will last you longer.
What are the Signs that Your Bathroom Scale Needs Changing?
They say nothing lasts forever, yes, even bathroom scales. If yours are showing the signs below, it may be high time for you to buy a new one:
- Inaccurate Readings. You step on your weighing scale, expecting it to give you the same reading as the week before. But the nasty thing tells you that you have just gained 3 pounds. Is it you or is it the scale? A good way to find out is to have a weight reference item; find something with an absolute weight such as a 1kg dumbbell. When in doubt, you can weight this and check if your bathroom scale is telling you the truth.
- Inconsistent Readings. You weighed yourself at a friend’s house and noted your reading. When you arrived home, your bathroom scale tells you a different thing. While it’s more convenient to write off the one that’s giving you the bad news as the liar, it’s best to take out your weight reference item for this purpose. Please also note that a lot of things can come into play such as the time you took the reading, your food or fluid intake, etc. Moreso, if you’re testing for body fat percentage, differences between scales are expected.
- Reading Display Malfunction. Whether it’s a reading that flip-flops or a reading you could hardly see, it may mean that there’s an electronic malfunction. Before concluding though that your bathroom scale has thrown in the white towel, try changing the batteries. You might just save yourself some cash.
- Physical Damage. If you are living in a humid environment or near the sea, expect earthy elements to do their work on your bathroom scales. Rust may be eating the electrical components or protective casing of your bathroom scale. It’s also advisable that you remove the batteries if you’re not going to use the bathroom scale for a long time because they tend to leak which is considered highly corrosive.
Wait! Before You Throw Out Your Bathroom Scale…
Here are a few things you need to check though before you shell out money for another bathroom scale:
- Battery Power. Does your bathroom scale provide you with incredible or inconsistent readings? Is it taking its time to calculate your weight? Or worse, it won’t turn on? Mechanical or electronic damage may not necessarily be the culprit. Perhaps, it’s just your battery that’s running low, or that’s depleted. Switch batteries and check again.
- Floor Level. Is your bathroom scale resting on a carpeted floor? Or is the floor surface hard, smooth, and level? Most bathroom scales, either mechanical or electronic, are designed to be laid on hard, smooth, and level floors. Bathroom scales on hardwood, concrete, ceramic or porcelain tile floors will yield more dependable results than those on linoleum, vinyl, or carpeted surfaces. If it’s more convenient for you to have your bathroom scale on such floors, you can also check out other types that are built for these kinds of flooring.
- Did you just move your bathroom scale? This may sound crazy, but some people find out that they weigh differently in different parts of the house. As a rule, keep your bathroom scale in one place. If you have to move it, calibrate it before using it.
Are There Times When It Is Not Your Bathroom Scales’ Fault?
If you’ve changed its batteries, placed it on a stable and level floor, calibrated it, or even bought a new one and yet you somehow ended up with another faulty bathroom scale, maybe there’s nothing wrong with your old bathroom scale to begin with. Perhaps, you might have been taking your measurements the wrong way.
Here are a few things that may affect your readings:
- Time of the Day. What time of the day did you take your measurements? Was it morning, noon, or evening? Just as you are a tad shorter in the evening than in the morning, you are also heavier at night than in the morning. So, if you go from checking your weight in the morning today and checking your weight in the evening next week, expect the results to spike. In fact, you don’t need to wait for next week. Just in one day, your weight can flip-flop from 2 to 4 kilos.
- Clothes or Footwear. While this may sound obvious, but sometimes we forget that the little things add up and bathroom scales pick up these small changes in weight. Based on a study by researchers at the University of North Dakota, on an average, men can easily put in 2.5 pounds and women can add 2 pounds on their reading just from their clothing. Thus, you might need to compare the kind of clothes were your wearing when you had your last and previous weigh-ins.
- Hydration Levels. Did you just finish exercising? How strenuous was it? If you just did an exercise and you sweat it all out, this too will affect your bathroom scale readings as exercising can cause you to lose 1 to 3 pounds of water through sweat. Some people have also noticed that they weigh more after they have done strength training.
Whether the measurements go up or down, it only shows that there will be a difference between your bathroom scale readings right after an exercise and your weigh-ins on any regular day. Try waiting for 24 hours after a strenuous workout, this will give you a more accurate reading ofs, if any, on your body weight.
- Food or Water Intake. What time did you have your meal? Did you just drink a bottle of water? Food and H20 intake can affect your measurements, not only with weight. If you really just want to check on your weight regardless of last week’s stats, it’s best to wait for an hour or two after you’ve eaten or guzzled water for a more reliable result.
Another important question in this regard is what food or drink did you have? Some food will cause you to retain water while others will activate water loss. Sodium-packed food particularly induces water retention; whereas potassium-rich food gets rid of excess sodium and water.
- For women, it’s those days of the month when you feel bloated because, surprise, you really are. Hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle can cause you to retain water. Hence, the bathroom scale results during these days are not playing with your emotions, they really are skewed. Thus, it’s best to steer clear of the device on such days.
The key in getting reliable results is to take your measurements at the same time of the day, under the same conditions. To make life easier, step on the scale in the morning with an empty stomach and sans clothes. Remember, if you had a strenuous workout today, weigh in the next day.
How Can You Prolong the Life of Your Bathroom Scales?
Let’s face it; your beloved bathroom scale will not be with you forever, but there are ways to maximize its shelf life.
- Mind the weight capacity. They are indicated on your product for a reason. Strain gauge load cells in digital bathroom scales and springs in the analog ones are designed to carry only a limited amount of weight. If you go overboard, you’ll end up with a broken device. Some of these scales can carry only 300 pounds of weight while the sturdier ones can go up to 550 pounds. We strongly advise that you know how much your bathroom scale can carry and keep it to that level.
- Keep them dry. Water or moisture is one of the enemies of mechanical or electronic devices. Hidden away from your view, rust can unknowingly be gnawing on the internal parts of your bathroom scale. Of course, rust can do damage as well on the exteriors, making the casing weak.
- Check the batteries from time to time. Sometimes what eats up the mechanical parts or electronic components of a bathroom scale is not from outside forces. The corrosion can start with leaking batteries, which can go unchecked especially if you have been giving your bathroom scale the cold shoulder for weeks or months. If you don’t see yourself using your scale for a long time, it’s best to remove its batteries.
- Follow instructions to a tee when calibrating your bathroom scales. An expensive or beautiful bathroom scale is just a white elephant. Its primary purpose is to tell you the truth no matter how hurtful it is. To do just that, you need to have your bathroom scale calibrated according to the instruction manual that comes with it. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a lying bathroom scale that bore a hole through your pockets. Also, remember to calibrate your bathroom scale each time you move it.
How long does a bathroom scale last depends on some factors. To begin with, you might have started with an unreliable bathroom scale. Or, you might have a good one, but you aren’t using it the right way. Regardless of quality or handling, a trusty bathroom scale is a great companion to your fitness and wellness journey. Find and maintain one, and it will serve you well.