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Boiler Lifespan: How Long Do Commercial Boilers Last?

February 4th, 2021

Last updated: June 9th, 2023

A commercial boiler represents a big investment for any organisation. This is partly because the design and installation can be a time-consuming and disruptive undertaking, but also because a commercial boiler is very important to any business. So how long do commercial boilers last? What sort of lifespan can you expect from your boiler?

Asset protection is a critical function of the facilities manager, and a commercial boiler can often run for 24 hours a day and seven days a week in some organisations, so there is a big demand on a commercial boiler, and therefore it is very important to have a system in place to ensure the boiler’s lifespan is maximised and the business receives value-for-money for its investment.

Like most technology sectors, the world of commercial boilers is evolving rapidly, with more sustainable fuel sources and better manufacturing techniques making boilers greener, cheaper and more efficient. Some of the boilers sitting in offices and commercial buildings now are pretty outdated in terms of the tech they use, but the general nature of commercial boilers hasn’t changed dramatically.

What is a boiler’s lifespan?

In general, you should expect a minimum of 15 years’ life from your investment. After that, depending on the size and design of the boiler, the demands on it and the maintenance invested in it, a business could reasonably see up to 30 years’ service from a boiler. But there are a number of mitigating factors in this, and perhaps the most important is maintenance.

Maintenance of a Commercial Boiler

A poor facilities manager will wait for a boiler to breakdown before they consider repairing or looking after it. Or they will wait for it to become irreparable before they think about replacing it. This approach can bring unforeseen costs and disruption to the business, which can affect productivity and morale, and possibly may violate an employer’s health and safety duties, as this could happen at the coldest time of year and you have a duty to provide a safe working temperature. The boiler is key to this.

Regular maintenance of a commercial boiler will minimise the chances of unforeseen breakdowns, extend the lifespan of the boiler and increase the chances of it running to optimal efficiency in the meantime. This kind of maintenance will carry a cost, but in normal circumstances you will be paid back in maximising the asset and in reduced investment, energy and repair costs.

What are the Signs that I Need to Replace My Commercial Boiler?

Regular maintenance, at least annually, is the best way to extend the lifespan of your commercial boiler, but eventually every boiler will need replacing, and it is always best to replace the boiler before it breaks down completely. But how do you know when this is?

  • Older = less efficient: A good business will be monitoring its energy costs and usage. Over time, burners won’t work as effectively and they will be using more energy to produce the same amount of heat, regardless of how well maintained they have been. This is unavoidable. So if you see your energy bills increasing, it might be a sign that it is time to invest. This could also be a reason for increased repair costs.
  • Changes to demand: Have you added new buildings or opened new offices? Maybe you have new production processes or extended hours of work? Essentially, have the demands on the boiler increased whilst the boiler itself has stayed the same? This is quite common over time, but it does mean you are using more energy and your boiler is being over-worked and is aging more rapidly. It basically means the boiler is not working in the way it was originally designed for, and you are asking too much of it. So it may be time for an upgrade.
  • Technology: Developing technologies mean boilers can run longer and more efficiently, so an old boiler can become superseded by a new model that can do the same job quicker and cheaper. This can also apply to components within the boiler design which simply become obsolete and therefore can no longer be replaced. You may also look at newer technologies and boiler types which could be more efficient, or consider a biomass boiler to replace your gas boiler to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, for instance.
  • Leaks and noise: Old boilers tend to become noisier in their general operation. This suggests that some parts are not working as well and that the boiler is ageing. Banging and clicking is normal in an old boiler and can be a sign that it needs replacing. Leaks are another sign that pipework or components are too old, and if left can lead to safety and cost issues. These are also quite easily detectable however.

Commercial Boiler Advice

So if you have seen 15-30 years from your commercial boiler, this is pretty normal, but it might be time to invest in a new one. it’s a bit like a car. Taking good care of your car and getting it regularly serviced will ensure you get the most out of the engine, but it isn’t going to carry on running forever.

Regular maintenance will undoubtedly extend that lifespan, but if you have any doubt about whether it is time to replace your commercial boiler, you should contact professionals who can inspect your system and advise accordingly. Sometimes there can be other issues and your boiler has a few years of natural life left in it, but certainly it can be a delicate balancing act, and knowing when is the best time to replace your commercial boiler is an important decision that can benefit from expert advice.

Contact Robinsons Facilities Services today to discuss regular planned preventative maintenance for your commercial boiler and set up an annual boiler service plan to keep it running as efficiently as possible, or even to discuss installing newer commercial boiler technology. Our knowledgeable team of Gas Safe registered engineers will always provide you with an honest assessment and try to come up with a solution that is energy efficient for you and your business.

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