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How Long Does a Boiler Last?

Wanting to know how long your boiler will last you? A new boiler is one of the more expensive investments you’ll make in your home. It’s in the same ballpark as getting double glazing on one side of the house, or having your home re-wired. So, home-owners naturally want to know what kind of value for money they are getting from their boiler – and that means how long it’s going to last.

In this article we’re going to look at how much life you can expect to get out of your boiler and factors that affect its lifespan, as well as the benefits of replacing your old boiler.

What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Boiler?

The average lifespan of a central heating system is around 15 years, but it all depends on how well it’s looked after. You can help your boiler last longer by keeping it regularly serviced and well maintained, so these short-term costs can help you enjoy long-term gains.

If you’ve ever seen the inside of a boiler, you’ll see straight away that it’s a complicated piece of kit. It’s full of moving parts like pumps, expansion vessels and valves, several metres of pipework, a burner and various electronic components. All of these parts, no matter how good quality they are, wear out at different rates.

Factor in that a boiler is a piece of machinery that is regularly going between hot and cool, which means it’s constantly expanding and contracting, and that leads to fatigue and stress on pipework and joints. There are some other aspects that influence the lifespan of your boiler, and we’ll look at these next.

How Can Limescale Affect The Lifespan Of A Boiler? 

Limescale can reduce the efficiency of your boiler and heating system, whilst also reducing the life of your boiler. It occurs when limescale sticks to the inside of the boiler and other surfaces, such as pipes. Not only does limescale decrease your central heating system’s efficiency and increase your heating bills, but it can cause major damage to mechanical parts of the system.

Limescale is a deposit of calcium carbonate - if you can see a white flaky layer on your kettle elements or boiling pans, that’s limescale. Limescale comes from calcium bicarbonate that occurs naturally in water in hard water areas. There’s no hard and fast rule, but generally, if you live in the South, East or Midlands of the UK, you’re probably in a hard water area, because of the chemical composition of your water supply.

There’s a chemical reaction that converts the bicarbonate into carbonate, and that will start to crystallise on the insides of your pipework, pumps and even closed systems like radiators. It’s unavoidable and slow, but given enough time, the crust of limescale will start to block your pipes to the point where they become inefficient.

Because there’s a constant supply of fresh water going through your boiler, and because heat speeds up the reaction, boilers are particularly prone to limescale build-ups. While some can be cleaned away during servicing, it’s likely that the limescale build-up will shorten the life of your boiler.

On the plus side, if you live in a soft water area, or have a water softening device installed, you can add a few years to the expected life of a boiler.

How To Improve The Lifespan Of Your Boiler

One of the most simple yet most effective ways to take care of your boiler is to make sure it receives an annual service. A Gas Safe-registered boiler engineer will carry out essential checks to help make sure your boiler keeps going no matter what the weather. Not only does an annual service mean your boiler will keep working safely and efficiently, it also makes sure your warranty is protected.

Another way to extend the life of your boiler and deal with the build-up of debris is to fit a magnetic system filter to your boiler.  This handy device helps your boiler operate to its full potential, getting rid of any impurities from the water that runs through your central heating system. A magnetic filter not only helps your boiler last longer, it can also provide short-term cost benefits by boosting its efficiency too.

Remember that a boiler shouldn't be ignored until you need it during the winter months. At Ideal Heating, we’ve got you covered for all seasons, with blogs that feature tips for preparing your home for winter including insulating your loft space, bleeding your radiators and draught-proofing your home. We’ve also highlighted the importance of summer boiler maintenance, with guidance on how often you should run your boiler in the summer and the best time to book your annual boiler service.

When Should You Get A Boiler Serviced?

You should get your boiler serviced annually, especially during the summer months in anticipation of heavier use of your boiler when the colder weather kicks in. An annual boiler service is an opportunity for a qualified heating engineer to look over your heating system to ensure it is running as efficiently as possible. 

When you buy a new boiler, you’ll usually be told to have it serviced one year later, and then at the same time every year thereafter. That is for three reasons:

  1. To keep your boiler safe

  2. To keep it maintained and efficient

  3. To protect your warranty

As we described above, boiler parts do wear out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the boiler becomes useless. Components can be cleaned, repaired and replaced, and that’s why making sure you have your boiler serviced annually will extend its lifespan and maintain its efficiency.

How To Find Out Your Boiler’s Service History

As homeowners don’t tend to take their boiler with them when they move out, you usually inherit a boiler when you buy a house. If you can, find out if it has a full-service history and when it was last seen by a professional boiler engineer. A boiler’s age and service history will provide a good indication of how worn out its components will be, and that will give you an idea how efficient it is – and how likely it is to break down.

If it’s had a good service history, book an engineer when it’s next due. If it’s not been checked for more than a year, make it a priority to book a service.

How Do I Know It’s Time To Replace My Boiler?

A boiler engineer can help you decide if it’s time for you to replace your boiler with a new model. If you’ve noticed your boiler is making strange noises, losing pressure, or if your hot water is coming out slowly or not very hot, your first call should be to a boiler engineer. It’s possible they might be able to fix it.

If your boiler is getting closer to the average lifespan of 15 years, it’s probably worth looking into replacing it or at least ensuring you have the finances in place to do so. Boiler technology is always progressing, and the most significant changes to boilers over the past 15–20 years have been in their efficiency.

Getting a new boiler will help keep your gas bills down, can increase the value of your home and will reduce your carbon footprint. So, although it may come with a price tag, it can save you in the long term, especially compared to a boiler that’s 20 years old or more.

What Time Of Year Is Best To Replace Your Boiler?

Summer is a great time to get your boiler service booked in, and a good time to look at replacing your boiler too. It’s usually easier to schedule an engineer to visit you during the summer months and you are better off replacing a boiler now rather than waiting a while and risking your boiler breaking down in winter when they're used more frequently. 

By choosing to find a new boiler before it gets to the point of becoming a priority, you’ll have more time to pick out the perfect model for you, whether you’re looking for a combi boiler or heat only solution. You’ll also have a brand new boiler ready for winter, so you’ll be much less at risk of having to deal with central heating problems in the colder months when you need your boiler most!

How To Choose A New Combi Boiler

If you’re looking for a new combi boiler but don’t know which one to choose, you may feel unsure of where to start. That’s why Ideal Heating created our easy to use Boiler Selector Tool. Before you opt for a combi boiler, make sure you satisfy the following factors:

  1. You live in an area with normal or high water pressure

  2. You don’t often need to use several hot water appliances (sink, bath, shower) simultaneously

  3. The boiler is going to be relatively close to the furthest bath, shower or sink (less than 20 metres)

Read more about combi boilers, including their pros and cons.

Three Benefits Of Replacing Your Old Boiler 

Replacing an old boiler for a new, more efficient one has many benefits, including the following: 

A more efficient boiler

The older the boiler the less efficiently it will run, which could result in higher heating bills. Replacing your old boiler for a new, more efficient model will help keep your home warm and comfortable and will reduce the cost of your heating too. 

Peace of mind

A new boiler will also provide peace of mind that you'll have a functioning, safe central heating system whatever the weather. This gives you security against breakdowns, which is also backed by the manufacturer's warranty, as long as you keep up to your boiler's annual service requirements. 

Full control over your home’s thermal comfort 

New, modern boilers are generally engineered with heating controls, allowing users to have full control over the temperature of their home. Plus with the Halo thermostat you can be more precise when deciding how much heat you require for the house or even individual rooms in your home which is convenient and cost-effective. 

Can I Install a Boiler Myself?

Legally, any work carried out on a gas boiler or your heating system must be done by a Gas Safe-registered engineer so you must never install a boiler yourself unless you are a qualified professional. You may feel like an expert after going through all our FAQs about boilers, however, you must instruct a fully qualified, competent and experienced installer to install your new boiler.  Working with gas boilers can be very dangerous, so it is never worth the risk of trying to tackle the job yourself. 

You’ll find further advice on central heating, servicing and boiler care in our FAQs, as well as more in-depth guides on the Ideal Heating blog.