There really is no ‘one size fits all’ time frame for replacing a gas or oil boiler as there are so many variables in determining when the right time to do so is. An older boiler which has been meticulously taken care of could be in better condition than a much newer one which has had no maintenance applied during its existence.
Listed below are some of the main situations where a complete boiler replacement is advised:
In some situations when you have had a boiler for many years but it still runs at a high level of efficiency and reliability you may still want to consider an upgrade regardless. If the boiler is old there is a reasonable chance that boiler replacement parts may not be in production anymore, so when your boiler does eventually break down (they all do at some point – that much is inevitable) you will have no choice but to upgrade to a newer model.
In such situations, it is a lot better to have a boiler replacement on your own terms and at a time that suits you, as opposed to at an unexpected and inconvenient time. You may wish to have your gas boiler replacement carried out during the warm summer months to avoid being left without a boiler (not to mention without heat) during the winter when you will miss it the most. Since oil and gas engineers tend to be much less busy in the summer you should be able to have your boiler replacement completed quickly. Many gas and oil boiler servicers offer generous discounts during the spring/summer months, so upgrading your boiler at this time is both cheaper and easier than at any other point during the year.
Boilers which have been on the go for a long time or those which have not been receiving regular maintenance can often, despite doing their actual job quite well, produce a loud banging noise known as ‘kettling’ which can be quite distracting/irritating. Kettling happens when debris accumulates in the piping of heating systems and travels into a boiler’s heat exchanger.
It is usually possible to stop kettling from occurring by using a power flush operation to remove built up sludge and unwanted goo from your heating system. However, power flushing is not always a permanent solution. If it ends up needing to be done on a regular basis the cost may end up overtaking the price of replacing a boiler.
A flue is a vital component of any oil or gas boiler. Its job is to move potentially hazardous emissions from the boiler (which is typically located inside) to the outdoors where they can disperse in a safe fashion. Generally speaking, a flue is a lot more exposed and therefore much more susceptible to erosion than any other component associated with a gas or oil boiler. Sometimes replacement parts for a flue will go out of production long before the other boiler parts, making them difficult or impossible to source.
In addition to this, during construction of a building, flues are often hidden from sight within the structure itself for aesthetic reasons. In practice, this can make it very hard for construction workers to get at and replace them without having to instigate a time consuming and expensive operation (pulling apart walls etc.). In such situations, your time, energy and money might be better spent replacing your full boiler (along with a new flue).
The initial high start up cost of having your gas or oil boiler upgraded to a high efficiency condensing boiler can be off-putting to some. While probably the best long term solution, having a new boiler installed isn’t the only way to increase your gas or oil boiler system’s efficiency and save money on your heating bills.
Some types of gas/oil boiler, particularly older models can be fairly unreliable and need repairs quite frequently. This is not only a drain on one’s finances but also your time and patience. Oil/gas boilers which need repairs very frequently can be more trouble than they are worth and end up costing more than a full boiler upgrade before long.
Similarly, gas and oil boilers which have not proven to be problematic for a very long period of time, but then suffer a major break down may also prove to be prohibitively expensive to repair. Older boilers, in particular, may prove expensive and inconvenient to repair as sourcing compatible parts for them may be difficult. When the price of repairing a boiler starts to reach a certain point it makes economic sense to consider a full boiler upgrade instead. It is often the case with older boilers that once they break down once it is the ‘beginning of the end’ for them, so to speak, with more frequent break downs likely in the future.
Like virtually any form of technology, the gas and oil boilers of today are greatly improved when compared to their predecessors. Modern boilers are much more efficient than older models when it comes to fuel and heating efficiency. It is generally understood that even when in optimum working order, a gas or oil boiler that is between 10 and 15 years old will only burn fuel at about 70% efficiency. In the case of boilers that are 20 or more years old, this efficiency rating drops below 60%. Of course, these numbers don’t even take into account the fact that most boilers of such an age will have accumulated a significant amount of ‘wear and tear’ during the course of their existence, meaning that their true efficiency rating will be even lower. When only a low percentage of fuel being burned by a boiler is converted directly into usable energy, the rest is wasted. An inefficient gas or oil boiler indirectly burn your money.
Modern high efficiency condensing boilers, by contrast, convert upward of 90% of their burned fuel into usable heating energy. The very top of the line boilers can convert up to 98%, meaning virtually no fuel is wasted in the burning process. This, in turn, means that your oil/gas boiler will use significantly less fuel to heat your home, meaning you won’t have to refill the boiler as often. This can generate big monetary savings over the long term. The reduction in waste emissions also has the added bonus of being better for the environment.