Published onOctober 2nd, 2023
At What Age Should a Boiler Be Replaced? Signs It’s Time for a New Commercial Boiler
Boilers are the workhorses of many properties throughout New York City. The systems are responsible for ensuring the delivery of heat and hot water when and where needed. Landlords depend on boiler systems, especially during the frigid months of mandatory heating seasons. To keep it running effectively, at what age should a boiler be replaced?
The last thing you need as a property owner is to lose boiler function during a winter cold spell. Discover the average life expectancy of commercial boilers and the signs that your system might be on its way out.
At What Age Should a Boiler Be Replaced?
The Average Lifespan of a Commercial Boiler
A commercial boiler has an average life expectancy of 15 to 25 years — though the latter is on the high end. The estimated lifespan depends on the level of care and maintenance that goes into the system. A well-maintained boiler may surpass the longer lifespan estimates, possibly achieving 30 years or better. Alternatively, a neglected system may not even make it to 15.
A commercial boiler needs regular, professional inspections and cleanings. Every property should have maintenance records for the existing system. If you are a new building owner and maintenance records are nowhere to be found, that is an ominous sign. You should contact Calray Boilers and schedule a full system assessment immediately.
Maintenance is not the only factor in life expectancy; insulation contributes to the amount of work a boiler must perform. The more a system works to warm a property, the more wear occurs. Poor insulation and air leakage mean a boiler is firing on and off more frequently, causing more wear on the system and knocking years off its life.
One important side note: The lifespan of a boiler is measured to its system failure when it is no longer capable of heating a property. A boiler replacement is usually necessary before a system’s expected operational life ends. With that in mind, 15 years is the standard operational lifespan of a well-maintained commercial boiler.
What Are the Warning Signs That It’s Time To Replace a Boiler?
Boilers are high-pressure systems, which are dangerous in their own right, but the potential for carbon monoxide is an even greater concern. Aging systems can develop cracks and leaks that permit carbon monoxide to spread throughout a property. In most cases, the gas remains isolated in the boiler room, but it can seep into tenant and employee spaces in extreme events.
Carbon monoxide is odorless, so minor leaks can go unnoticed without proper safety equipment. One of the first signs of a leak may be complaints of headaches or nausea while in the building.
Contact the gas company and emergency services at the first sign of a gas leak. Calray Boilers can help you avoid carbon monoxide risks with an annual service contract that includes regular inspections.
While gas leaks are frightening, they are not the only leak you should concern yourself with. Boilers can develop water, fuel, and steam leaks, which are potentially dangerous and can cause significant property damage.
Thankfully, not all leaks mean a boiler replacement is necessary. Some leaks are only the result of worn seals or old connections. A professional with Calray Boilers can assess the leak and its cause and suggest repairs.
Long Heating Times or Regular Thermostat Adjustments
A functioning boiler system should heat a property evenly, meaning you won’t have cold spots throughout. Living with a system for any time means you or your tenants are used to how it is supposed to heat when fully operational. If radiators take longer to heat up or tenants and staff are constantly readjusting the thermostats, something is wrong.
As boilers age, heating elements wear down, and the system has a harder time heating up. Depending on the boiler’s age, a technician from Calray Boilers might be able to repair or clean some parts to improve performance. Still, if the system is over 15 years old, it might be time to consider a boiler replacement.
While some odors are typical in a boiler room, some are warning signs of existing or pending problems. The system should not produce smokey or burning smells. If you smell something strange, shut the system down and call a repair technician.
A sulfur odor, something like rotten eggs, indicates a gas leak. Shut down the system at the first whiff of this off-putting smell and call a professional.
Pilot Light Issues
All furnaces pre-2000s have pilot lights. The pilot light should remain on and steady. If the light is routinely going out, it is a sign the system isn’t burning fuel efficiently.
When the light is out, it doesn’t mean the system is off. The system may still release or produce gas, making for a buildup of carbon monoxide. A professional boiler technician can diagnose the pilot light issue and tell you if it is time for a replacement boiler.
Rising Operational Costs
All boilers lose efficiency as they age, even if the systems seem in working order. That said, most boilers experience significant and ongoing problems as they surpass their expected lifespan.
Even if your boiler seems to be operating fine, you may want to examine your heating costs. Compare utility costs year over year. An aging boiler will cost more money because it works harder to compensate for worn parts.
Short-cycling — the repetitive and frequent turning off and on of the system — can become an issue with age. While boilers must cycle on and off to maintain even heat, they shouldn’t cycle on several times over an hour. Short-cycling is usually a precursor to a breakdown.
Another common sign of age is strange noises. Boilers typically reach a certain volume level, but if you hear loud bangs, gurgling, hissing, or other unnerving noises, call a professional for an assessment.
At What Age Should a Boiler Be Replaced To Remain Efficient?
Diagnosing the Right Time for a Replacement
A commercial boiler is usually pushing its limits after a couple of decades. That said, you can make the most of your system with the proper care and maintenance. Contact Calray Boilers at 212-722-5506 to schedule an inspection and discuss an annual service contract to stay on top of boiler operations and health.