How long do boilers last?
Learn about the average lifespan of a boiler, how to check the age of your equipment, signs that your heating system is getting too old, and more.
When is an old boiler too old?
There are many residential boilers in North America that are very old and inefficient, and they no longer work optimally. In most cases, upgrading these systems is necessary to save money on fuel and minimize environmental impacts. In fact, replacing your old boiler sooner rather than later is likely to make your house more comfortable and your boiler less expensive to maintain.
However, if a boiler is still working after many years, it begs the question of how long can a boiler last? Additionally, as new environmental laws take effect, are there any legal regulations governing the age of a system, and if so, what are they? Let's explore the topic of how long a boiler should last and at what point it makes sense to upgrade or replace your system.
What is the lifetime of a boiler?
It's only when the heating system breaks down that many homeowners and residents become aware of the age of their boiler. After all, the same boiler may have been standing in the basement for decades, doing its job for a long time without really attracting attention.
However, usually this means it became increasingly uneconomical in the months and years leading up to the breakdown. As this is usually a gradual process, heating costs rise slowly over the course of years, and in many cases the system owners simply attribute this to rising fuel prices. Few people think of this as a mechanical problem or a sign that the lifetime of your boiler is coming to an end.
Generally speaking, the optimal lifespan of most boilers is around 15 years, with some better warranties lasting up to 10 years. If your boiler is older than this, then you may want to consider upgrading your system.
How can you identify how old your boiler is?
Once you know how long a boiler should last, it's a good idea to check the age of your equipment. As a general rule, you can find this information on the rating plate of the boiler. In addition to the year of manufacture, the manufacturer is also listed. If you can't find what you're looking for, you can still discover your boiler's age by contacting the manufacturer and providing them with the boiler's serial number. This information will allow the manufacturer to determine what year your boiler was built in.
Consider upgrading your boiler before it breaks down
An important principle when considering the lifetime of your boiler, is to act at the right time. After the 15-year mark, you shouldn't wait too much longer than necessary to upgrade to a new heating system. Also, it's best to replace your heating system before the coldest months of winter, as installers are usually extremely busy during these times, and you may have to wait for a while to get new equipment. The best time to replace a boiler is in the off-season when there is less urgency for heat, and heating installers are not as busy.
In addition to this, an upgrade to your heating system should be well-planned and carefully thought through. Carefully consider which type of boiler suits your requirements and climate using comprehensive advice from a heating specialist.
How long do boilers last on average before they are considered too old?
The 15-year mark isn't the only indication that you may need a new boiler. Other indicators may also show you that your system is getting too old. While it's usually difficult to determine when a boiler is not working at optimal efficiency, annual maintenance done by a professional can help.
Of particular concern are excessive CO2 emissions that can rarely be detected without specialist equipment. If these emissions are rising, an HVAC-accredited expert will make a note of this in their report when they test the boiler's exhaust. If the emission limits are exceeded and rising over time, the boiler may need to be replaced.
Other factors you to consider in the lifetime of a boiler
If repairs or breakdowns have been piling up lately, now would be a good time to consider your options and find out how old the boiler is. Minor faults or issues can periodically occur even with new heating systems, but if the repairs become a regular event then you should probably consider purchasing a new boiler.
It should also be emphasized that newer equipment usually increases the comfort level for those living in the home. Modern highly efficient boilers also help you save fuel and reduce emissions, and a new heating system is often easier to manage and control.
Are there any laws that limit the use of old boiler systems?
In some areas such as Rhode Island, there are laws that restrict certain boilers when they reach a certain age. Generally speaking, these laws regulate "non-standard" boilers (which aren't very common), and place a maximum age limit of 20 or 30 years depending on the pressure rating and type of construction.
However, in most cases old boilers become obsolete due to their poor efficiency and emissions. These emissions can be checked by a professional contractor, and you will be advised if your boiler does not meet current standards. In these cases, you may need to replace your boiler with a new one.
For more information on the lifespan of a boiler and how to replace your system, contact us today to discuss your options, as well as how to help keep your equipment running optimally through regular maintenance.