Not only is your central heating boiler an investment, it’s also a key part in the efficient functioning of your home. Heat and hot water are both essential to a happy home life, so you need to be sure your boiler is in it for the long run. But how long does a boiler last?
We take a look at the average lifespan of your boiler, how you can help to extend its ‘shelf life’ and when it is time to say goodbye and replace it with a younger model.
Average Lifespan of a Boiler
While there’s a wide choice of models and brands on the market, the average life span of a boiler is widely regarded as being somewhere between 10 and 15 years. And this applies to whatever your boiler’s fuel source – gas, oil or LPG – and system type, including the ever-popular combi boiler.
It is also fair to say that the quality boiler brands such as Worcester Bosch, Vaillant, Baxi and Ideal are built to last, which is reflected in their products’ warranties, with many attracting warranties of 7-10 years or even more.
A properly maintained and appropriately used boiler should have a life expectancy of 10 years plus but could start to lose some of its energy efficiency in its later years, which needs to be factored in when considering the cost of maintaining an older boiler compared to the cost of having a new boiler replacement installed.
Tips to Prolong Your Boiler’s Life
While it is unrealistic to expect your boiler to last indefinitely, it is possible to ensure it lasts as long as possible and remains an energy efficient component of your central heating system. To keep both your boiler and your energy bills healthy, here are our top tips to prolonging its life:
Buy a good quality boiler
When choosing a new boiler, always opt for the best boiler you can. A cheaper model may save you money initially, but it won’t necessarily be built to last and could lead to more expense in repair and energy bills along the way. A good quality combi boiler is going to mean less maintenance, less breakdowns, longer lifespan and could save you money in the long run.
Choose a boiler that’s the right size for your needs
As well as opting for a quality make, the size of your boiler is also essential, as it needs to be sufficient for your heating and hot water needs. Choosing a boiler that is not powerful enough for your home, means it is going to be overworked and so more likely to break down. And overworking a boiler will not only affect its performance but also its lifespan as well as potentially leaving you with higher energy bills.
A boiler’s performance is measured in kilowatts of output so if you are in any doubt as to what size of boiler you need, speak to a central heating professional to get the right advice.
Opt for a long warranty
A long warranty on a boiler demonstrates the manufacturer’s confidence in the product’s quality as well as gives you an indication as to how long it will be before you need to pay for repair bills. Wherever possible, go for a boiler that comes with a 10-year warranty (or more) – some boiler manufacturers such as Viessmann, Worcester Bosch and Ideal also give you the chance to pay for extra warranty years to get the best length warranty you can.
Ensure you stick to the annual boiler service
An annual boiler service is a given for your boiler and in fact, can invalidate your warranty if you fail to keep to the yearly check schedule. Booking a yearly boiler check by a Gas Safe registered engineer is a great way to nip any minor faults in the bud and give your boiler a general health check that can directly influence the lifespan of your boiler and central heating system.
Only ever use Gas Safe registered engineers
To keep your boiler both safe and in its best working condition as well as helping it to last longer, only ever use a fully qualified professional to do any servicing or repair work. Another caveat of your warranty will be to use someone with the right qualifications and is another reason the warranty can be voided if you don’t use the right tradesperson.
You should only ever use a heating engineer that has been registered as a Gas Safe engineer, and the terms of your manufacturer’s warranty may also stipulate you only use one of their accredited installers. A Gas Safe registered engineer also gives you the peace of mind that they are qualified and experienced enough to work on your boiler and can prevent any costly repair mistakes. To check an engineer is Gas Safe, ask to see their registration card before letting them do any work, or check with the Gas Safe Register.
Check your heating system regularly
As well as your annual service, it is a good idea to regularly check on the boiler yourself. And can be as simple as monitoring its performance and giving the boiler a visual inspection and noting any changes or unusual ‘behaviours’. Things to note include a combi boiler that regularly loses pressure, is making a noise or flags up fault codes on its central display.
If you do notice something untoward with your boiler or heating system, then avoid the temptation to do any repairs or further investigations but call out a professional engineer to do a full diagnosis.
Don’t delay on any repairs
While it may be tempting to stick your head in the sand and ignore any signs your boiler may have developed a fault, don’t delay on a repair job as the longer you leave it, the more damage it could do to your boiler or wider central heating system. A build-up of limescale and sludge, for example, may start small and only cause noises but if left, can eventually cause internal component damage and eventual whole boiler breakdown. And if this is the case, then the life of your boiler may be brought to a premature end and a new one may be your only option.
Maintain its performance
When it comes to protecting and potentially extending the lifespan of your boiler, prevention is often better than cure. And there are steps you can also take to help maintain – and even enhance – its performance, without too much extra cost:
- A powerflush – when fitting a new boiler installation, an engineer will perform a full system flush to ensure there’s no debris or dirt which can clog up your new boiler over time. Further periodic powerflushes during the lifespan of your boiler can then help to keep it clean of rust, limescale and sludge which can cause serious, life-limiting damage to your boiler if left to build up. A powerflush will also help to maintain the efficient performance of your boiler and prevent it from overworking by reducing the stress on its internal systems.
- Install a magnetic system filter – these filters can be fitted by an engineer and will help to keep your boiler in tip-top condition by attracting rust and metal particles into its filter body. Your engineer can then clean out the filter each year, as part of your boiler’s annual service.
- Central heating inhibitor – a dose of this liquid inhibitor into your boiler and heating system, especially if you live in a hard water area, will work to break down limescale into smaller chunks. This works well if used in tandem with a magnetic filter.
- Keep your boiler running (summer and winter) – ensuring your boiler is ticking over nicely whatever time of year will keep its performance smooth and efficient. Simple tricks include ensuring your external pipework is lagged to prevent the condensate pipe – which takes acidic waste created by internal condensation to an external drain – freezing in the winter months. And during the summer, make sure you regularly run your boiler even when you don’t need the heat, to keep it functioning as it should.
When Should I Replace My Boiler?
Anything older than 10 years is considered an old boiler. But if you have taken steps to look after your heating system, including its annual service, chances are it is still performing while perhaps not quite like a new boiler, but as a boiler which is still doing its job.
Looking after an older boiler can certainly extend its lifespan and will help to reduce the need for more expensive repairs. And this means you can keep the boiler in service for longer, as long as it is only needing minor attention.
However, nothing lasts for ever and so if you are experiencing any of the below with your older boiler, then it is a good time to consider a new replacement:
- Your boiler is over 10 years old and out of warranty
- You are regularly getting your boiler repaired, and the bills are getting more expensive
- You notice your energy bills have gone up, despite not changing your usage pattern
- Your central heating and boiler are getting increasingly noisy
- You are getting intermittent heating and hot water
- Replacement parts are difficult to find or are no longer available
At this point, installing a new boiler will be the most cost-effective option. You will need to factor in the cost of a new boiler (typically £600-£1500) as well as its installation but the savings in the long run of replacing an old boiler add up.
Your new boiler will be more energy efficient, more technologically advanced and parts will be readily available, giving you at least another 10-15 years of lovely, efficient heat and hot water before you need to think of another upgrade.
- How long does a combi boiler last? – Viessmann