Boilers are built to last, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’ll last forever. So an efficient, good-functioning boiler is more important now than ever as they help keep energy bills as low as possible.
As a rule of thumb, boilers last 10 to 15 years, but this can be boosted to over 30 years with regular servicing. Many of the traditional workhorse boilers of the early 90s are still going strong today, but you can be certain they won’t last too much longer if they’re not serviced.
So, how long do boilers last?
How to Increase the life of your boiler
A boiler’s average lifespan is 10 to 15 years doesn’t mean it can’t last longer. The following will help you lengthen your boiler’s life and prevent breakdowns:
1: Annual service
You guessed it…an annual service will prolong your boiler’s life. Annual servicing is required to keep new boilers in warranty too, which is important to protect your boiler in case of catastrophic failure.
Annual services are relatively inexpensive, costing £50 to £100 or so. The cost of a service has to be compared against:
- The cost of repairing a broken boiler
- The cost of replacing a boiler
- The cost of heating a home with a poorly maintained, inefficient boiler
So, you can’t take the boiler service fee at face value, and it’s certainly not money wasted.
Powerflushes use chemical liquid cleaners to clean and flush the entire central heating system, including the boiler, radiator and pipes.
Powerflushes are great if you need to clean your radiators and the boiler, but should only be carried out by trained heating engineers.
Older systems may not be suitable for powerflushes as they place some strain on the pipework and boiler, which may cause more harm than good. However, if you’ve got an extremely sludgy or dirty heating system, then an engineer might recommend a powerflush.
3: Replacing magnetic filters
Magnetic filters use magnetism to attract metallic debris and filter it from the heating system. Not all boilers have them as standard, but they can usually be installed. A boiler service should include a check of magnetic filters, where applicable.
4: Fix issues as soon as you can
If you notice issues with your heating system, such as poor or worsening heating performance, unusual sounds emanating from the boiler or leaks, then get them checked out as soon as you can. Fixing issues quickly is nearly always cheaper than waiting until small problems develop into full-blown faults.
Call a heating engineer immediately if you notice an orange or blue-orange pilot light rather than a blue pilot light (older conventional boilers only) or a leak from the boiler or the pipework joining the boiler.
If you smell gas and suspect a gas leak, evacuate the immediate area and call your supplier’s emergency line.
How to take care of your boiler
Boilers require care, maintenance and TLC like any other household appliance. That extends to the radiators and the rest of the heating system. Any weak component might replace additional strain on the boiler, so it’s important to take care of radiators and other components too.
Radiators require periodical bleeding to keep them working efficiently. If you notice a decline in heating performance then bleeding should be the first thing you do. Furthermore, it’s easy to bleed radiators yourself without specialist tools or skills.
Radiators become blocked with air that prevents them from working well, increasing boiler pressure, increasing strain on the boiler. Boiler pressure should be maintained at 1 to 2-bar. Only closed or pressurised open boilers have pressure metres.
This is a simple task that anyone can undertake, so long as they have a bleed key. To bleed a radiator:
- Switch the heating off and allow to cool.
- Place cloth beneath the radiator.
- Use a bleed key to gradually release air from the bleed valve. Note, the goal of bleeding is to release air and not water.
- When no more air comes out, tighten the valve.
- Check boiler pressure; it should be in the green zone, usually between 1 and 2 bar.
If bleeding your radiator fails to depressurise the boiler to safe level, you might need to check the expansion vessel. In this case, it’s best to call a heating engineer to check the expansion vessel and filling loop.
Drain and balance system
Sometimes, it’s necessary to balance or drain the entire heating system. This is a fairly long-winded job that you should only consider if you’ve bled your radiators and had a recent service.
A poorly balanced heating system may result in some radiators heating up long before others or not heating up at all. Here is a basic step-by-step to balancing a heating system:
- First, make a rough diagram of your radiators and their location in your home.
- Switch your central heating off and allow your radiators to cool.
- Open up every valve on every radiator (both the manual valve/TRV and lockshield valves).
- Switch your heat on and find which radiators heat up first, in order from start to finish.
- Turn the heating off, and allow all radiators to cool.
- Switch the heating back on and close the lockshield valve on the fastest radiator. Open it around ¼ of a turn.
- Use a thermometer to check the temperature difference between the valve pipework leading to the valve and leading out of the valve. Adjust the lockshield until the temperature difference is approx 12C.
- Repeat the process with other radiators.
Summary: How long do boilers last
Boilers should last for 10 to 15 years, providing they’re regularly serviced. Regular servicing is extremely important for any boiler but is especially important for brand new boilers, to keep them in warranty and for older boilers, to prevent them from breaking.
There are various ways to keep your boiler working properly, like bleeding your radiators and keeping an eye on boiler pressure.
If you notice a change in heating performance or suspect a fault, get it checked out. It’s much better to nip issues in the bud than to let them develop!