I have boiler issues – should I repair or replace it?

Your home's boiler system has failed – what a bummer! But should you pay for the repair or look into replacing your heating system with a new one?

Image: Igorsky / Shutterstock.com

If this is the first time you've had an issue, a repair usually makes sense. But if these issues are occurring more and more frequently, you probably know what you need to do. While there are no hard and fast rules about when to stop making repairs and replace the boiler instead, there are certain things to keep in mind.


How old is the system?

With proper maintenance, a boiler should normally last around 15 to 20 years. If your boiler is reaching old age, repairs may become increasingly frequent and potentially expensive. For older boilers, availability of replacement parts may also become a challenge. If repairs are still affordable, it may be a more cost-effective way to get the heat back on in your home, but keep in mind that repair costs will continue to increase as time goes on. Consumer Reports generally recommends replacing a product once repair bills start to exceed 50% of the cost of a new unit. So, when your contractor sends over a quote for the repairs, get a quote on a new system and compare.

Old vs new boiler technology

Could you benefit from advancements in technology?

Think about your first cell phone: it was awesome being able to make calls from anywhere, play a round of Snake, or send a text message to your friends and family. Phones can still handle those tasks, but with the added benefits of modern technology you can now experiment with AI, video chat with colleagues across the world, and play a movie from anywhere. Similarly, a boiler from 20 years ago will still heat up your home, but is there something a bit more... advanced?

Modern boilers are much more efficient than those of the past. While a modern gas condensing boiler is likely above 90% efficient when properly sized and installed, the boilers of yesteryear may be vastly oversized (which was common in the past) and out of date, contributing to reduced efficiency. The good news is that if you replace an older model with a brand new, highly efficient model, you will most likely save money in the long run! In addition to the money saved, a modern boiler will also have the ability to heat up your home more quickly and maintain that heat over the long, cold winter.

Are you trying to reduce your carbon footprint? More than 50% of your home's total energy usage comes from climate control, according to the Energy Information Administration. Newer boiler models, especially those that are ENERGY STAR qualified, meet or exceed federal guidelines for energy efficiency and can heat your home with much less fuel than older models.


Image: IBudimir Jevtic / Shutterstock.com

How comfortable is your home?

Are you constantly jumping off the couch to adjust the thermostat, grab a blanket, or to swap the fleece for a pair of shorts on those lazy days at home? Your boiler may be incorrectly sized, inefficient, or in need of some help from a heating expert. All in all, there are no hard and fast rules to tell you when your boiler should be repaired or replaced, but keep in mind the options available and your priorities for repair costs vs. long-term reliability. Check out the available product options, talk to a trusted contractor, and consider your own personal list of pros and cons.


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