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How Long Does a Boiler Last in New York?

April 14, 2020


On average, boilers usually last about 15-30 years.

However, the exact length of your boiler’s life depends on a variety of factors, like: 

  1. The type of boiler you have

  2. Whether or not the boiler was  installed properly

  3. How often you’ve maintained  your boiler

In this article, we’ll go into more detail about each of these factors and how they can impact the lifespan of your boiler in New York. 


Need a boiler replacement? Or have other heating and plumbing needs? Request an appointment with our experts online or by calling us at (718) 767-0707. We’ve got 50+ years of experience you can always count on.


Factor #1: The type of boiler you have

Hot Water vs. Steam Boiler

In the NYC area, homeowners typically either have a hot water (hydronic) or a steam boiler. 

Usually, water/hydronic boilers have a greater lifespan compared to steam boilers: 

  • The average lifespan of a  water/hydronic boiler: 30+ years

  • The average lifespan of a cast iron steam boilers: 20-25+ years

  • The average lifespan of a high-efficiency condensing hydronic boiler: 15-20 years

Steam boilers typically have a shorter lifespan because they have a greater tendency to develop leaks. Leaks that occur from components such as piping, valves and radiators quite often go unnoticed. The result is excess wear and tear on the boiler due to a constant loss of steam and the introduction of replacement water into the system. This contributes to a shortening of the boiler’s lifespan.

High Efficiency vs. Standard Efficiency Boiler

Keep in mind that if you have a gas boiler at home, its lifespan will vary depending on whether it’s a condensing/high efficiency boiler or non-condensing boiler.

While condensing boilers are more efficient than non-condensing boilers, condensing boilers have a slightly shorter lifespan than non-condensing boilers. 

Why?

Condensing boilers are constructed to hold onto flue gases longer to capture more heat; however, these flue gases are extremely acidic, which can cause a boiler’s components to wear out sooner, curbing its lifespan.

Factor #2: Whether your boiler was installed properly

It’s estimated that over 85% of boilers in the U.S. are sized improperly. So what does this mean for you? Well, if your boiler is improperly sized for your home, it won’t last as long as it’s designed to.

Here’s why…

If your boiler is too big, it will heat your home quickly and then shut off. This constant ON and OFF pattern can wear out the motors and other integral parts in the boiler.

If your boiler is too small, it will run continuously. This round-the-clock action puts unnecessary strain on a boiler’s motor and other important components.

So, how should your boiler be sized?

Boilers are sized according to the amount of heat they put off per hour (measured in BTUs). The higher the BTU output (more heat a boiler creates per hour), the “larger” the boiler is. 

When your boiler was initially installed, a “radiator survey” or a “heat loss calculation” should have been performed in order to properly determine the size of boiler your home needs. This test entails looking at various factors like the square footage of your home, the number of windows and doors, the amount and quality of insulation, etc. However, if a proper test wasn’t performed, you could easily have a system that’s too big or small.

Here’s how to determine whether your boiler is oversized or undersized:

Signs your boiler is oversized:

  • Boiler short cycles (turns on then quickly turns off)

  • Frequent leaks in the boiler system

  • Hot and cold spots throughout the home

Signs your boiler is undersized:

  • Home never gets to desired temperatures on particularly cold days

  • Boiler runs non-stop on cold days

Factor #3: How often your boiler has been maintained

At the least, you should have your boiler maintained annually. If you’re not servicing your boiler at least once every year, you’re probably spending more than you should on fuel costs and potentially taking years off your boiler’s life.

According to Energy Star, regular maintenance will help you avoid problems and repairs that could cause a premature system failure in the future.

When a quality professional performs boiler maintenance, they should:

  • Check the gas connections for proper operation and pressure 

  • Check and clean the burner combustion 

  • Lubricate all moving parts (for decreased energy usage)

  • Tighten all electrical connections

  • Check controls for proper and efficient operation

  • Check chimney draft

Checking these kinds of components will prevent your boiler from running inefficiently or incorrectly, which can help you avoid large issues and extend the life of your system. 

Interested in extending the life of your boiler system? Ranshaw offers a comprehensive gas heating maintenance plan for NYC homeowners.

Think your boiler might be on its last leg? Ask us today.

If your boiler is showing signs of slowing down, don’t wait for it to die and leave you without heat when you need it most.

Instead, schedule an appointment for an in-home estimate. We’ll send one of our highly-trained boiler experts to inspect your current system and heating needs then help you choose the best boiler for your needs and budget. 

When you need a boiler replacement, choose Ranshaw. With over 50 years of experience, we’ll install your replacement boiler right, the first time around.


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