The boiler, be it a combi, system or regular, is an essential part of every modern home. We rarely even notice this complex machine, except when it stops working. After the last time you had yours repaired, you may be wondering “how long until it breaks down again?”

So, if:

  • Your boiler is old and has been breaking down more often lately
  • You’ve moved into a new property where the boiler is very old and the meter readings seem very high,

Then keep on reading, because this post is sure to help!

Table of Contents:

How long should a boiler last?

A modern boiler should last about 10 to 15 years. Maybe even 20 if you take really good care of it.

That’s the basic answer to this good old question, but there are more factors which come into play as your unit ages, thus determining how long it will actually last.

For starters, boilers regularly switch between hot and cold temperatures, that’s their job. The unit body, pipework, and joints get worn out over time by the constant expanding and contracting. The materials themselves are also of importance. Cheap models work just as well as expensive ones, but their parts are made of a lesser quality material. Hence why cheaper models break down more often. 

Even if a boiler manages to survive long enough with a minimal number of breakdowns, it will become less cost-effective, making your energy bills higher. After about 10 years, it gets harder to find spare parts, as manufacturers no longer make them.

For new units, you can just take a look at the warranty. It will take around the stated number of years until your unit needs a check-up.

All in all, a good 15 years is perfect. Afterwards, it really doesn’t pay to have an old model.

How to extend the life of your boiler

You can keep your boiler in good shape a while longer with the following methods:

Get annual service

The best way to make sure your boiler will stay in working order is to have a professional over annually. The technician will perform all kinds of checks, such as a visual inspection, safety device check, combustion analysis, pressure test, etc.. If they happen to find anything wrong with your boiler, they can fix it before it gets worse and costly.

Don’t postpone repairs

Suspicious noises, small leaks, the pilot light going out, loss of pressure – anything which deviates from the standard should be checked and fixed. If you can’t do it yourself, call in a professional.

Don’t overwork the boiler

Do not set the pressure too high, because this will shorten the machine’s life.

Also, how hard the boiler works depends on the size of your property and household. If you have a large home and family, but a combi boiler, which isn’t ideal for this kind of workload, then your unit will reach its natural end earlier.

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Turn on heating periodically during hot seasons

This sounds rather ridiculous, considering most modern combi boilers have a summer setting, which allows you to use only hot water. However, the other components will not benefit from being dormant for 5 or 6 months.

When you activate the heating for about 15 minutes once a month, you will help your boiler stay healthy, so to say. Afterwards, when the cold seasons come, the unit will get back to full capacity more easily. Plus, no nasty bits will have built up in your radiators since the water has circulated.

Powerflush

You don’t have to do this annually, or even at all, if your boiler is relatively new. However, if you have an older one, chances are there is rust, dirt and sludge build-up. It’s easy to check. If your radiators don’t get as warm as they used to and feel cold at the bottom, then there is probably build-up. 

Sludge will not only force your boiler to work harder to heat your home, but it can also find its way into the components, shortening their life span. Eventually, your boiler will become very inefficient and break down.

Powerflushing is a procedure where a special machine is connected to the system. It releases a high-pressure water flow combined with cleaning chemicals.

Use magnetic filters

These metaplastic components are always installed on the return pipework of a heating system as close to your boiler as possible. As the name suggests, these filters have powerful magnets inside of them, used to grab onto metallic debris before they enter the boiler. By preventing this sort of sludge build-up, magnetic filters prolong the life of your boiler. They also need to be cleaned annually in order to continue working well.

Insulate outside pipes

If you have heating pipes in lofts, garages, or even outside, it’s highly recommended you insulate them with pipe lagging. Fortunately, it can be purchased from any DIY store.

By lagging your exposed pipes, you protect them from heat loss and freezing, which can lead to more serious damage later on.

Bleed radiators

Air can get trapped in your heating system throughout the year. While most combi boilers have an automatic air vent (AAV) to deal with this problem, sometimes air manages to find its way into your radiators. If your heater is cold and the top and hot at the bottom, then there is most probably air inside. This means you need to bleed your radiator.

Bleeding a radiator is easy, all you need is a radiator key from any hardware store.

Check the top of your radiator for a bleed point, the key should fit in it. Place it and turn. You will hear the air coming out. When water starts to come out of the bleed valve, close it and you’re done.

Full post on: How to bleed your radiator

When should I replace my boiler?

If your boiler has passed 10 years of age, this question shouldn’t be hard to answer.

Old boilers break down more easily, parts for them become hard to find, and they’re no longer energy-efficient. Some other signs which give away the inevitable need for replacement are:

  • High energy bills
  • Radiators need a long time to heat up
  • Leaks
  • Odd smells when the unit is on
  • Odd noises when the unit is on
  • Frequent breakdowns
  • Blue flame light has become yellow

Ready for a new boiler?

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You can do many things on your own, but boiler installation is not one of them. Fantastic Services works with fully equipped and experienced technicians. We will give you advice on the best boiler for your needs and install it in a stress-free manner. In the meantime, you can be with your family. Give us a call today!

Takeaways

  • Do what you can to prolong the life of your boiler.
  • Never ignore any malfunctions, no matter how small.
  • If your boiler is over 10 years old, you should probably replace it.

Image Source: Shutterstock / BOKEH STOCK

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How old if your boiler? Have you experienced any breakdowns lately? Let us know and let’s start a conversation below!

  • Last update: August 19, 2020

Posted in Home Improvement, Plumbing Tips

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