There are many variables that determine how long a pump will last. The first, as with most products is the quality of pump. All pumps are not created equal. Higher priced pumps with reputable name brands will often outlast the lower price point products. The phrase you get what you pay for typically rings true as with most products.
The second variable would be the amount of wear and tear the pump is exposed to. In some geographical areas and in some homes the sump pump barley get used. There are sump pump pits in homes that never see water, and those home owners are lucky. This is not most home owners basement conditions. This amount of use would have a pumps life be very long although a good working pump is important as water tables to shift and move. Some basements that typically are dry become wet when things change in the area and some that are wet can become dry. A low laying area with a high water table that causes a sump pump to run all day every day, would cause the pump to fail quickly and live a shortened life. A dry basement sump pump pit would typically have a sump pump last a long time.
The third variable we see is the water quality the pump is exposed to. The quality of water can really affect the pumps durability. Anytime you expose metal, rubber, plastic, and electricity to water there is a limited amount if time this product will last. The ph, softness, and mineral quality will shorten the life of a pump. A pump exposed to extreme water conditions wont last nearly as long as one in softened balanced water. In some areas we see an orange iron scale build up down in the sump pump pit and pump. This will rust out the pump and cause it to break prematurely. Other water quality issues will cause these pumps to breakdown quickly.
In general, we see normal built sump pumps, in average working conditions last 3-5 years. They often have a warranty for this type of time period and are built to last this long. Inexpensive pumps on the shorter life cycle, while typical name brand pumps about 5 years. Anything past the 5 year mark seems to be on borrowed time and not reliable at this point. How dependent the homes basement sump pump system is on this pump would determine how often this pump should be replaced. As a mechanical machine that sits in water its whole life, these pumps are exposed to hard conditions and eventually fail. Home owners themselves need to evaluate the risk involved in their sump pump pit circumstances and make the best decision for their home. Some things to consider would be the results of what may happen if a pump failed. Emergency back up pump present and working? Is it located in a unfinished basement with 0 personal things stored in it or is it a finished basement with wood flooring? Some of these ideas would make that decision easy of how often a pump be replaced and how good of a pump should be invested in.