Should you replace your commercial boiler?
By JOHN KOPF
It is not uncommon for property owners or managers to wait until a boiler completely breaks down and are suddenly faced with no heat. To make things worse, these types of failures happen when there is real need for heat (for instance, a very cold day) and since the failure is unexpected, there are rarely emergency funds allocated to fix the problem.
The following are some warning signs that it’s time to replace an old unit:
Age: Condensing boilers haven’t been on the market for a long time and therefore it is hard to predict their longevity. With proper maintenance, they are expected to last at least 15 years or longer. Cast iron boilers, on the other hand, should be considered for replacement if they have been operating for more than 20 or 30 years. Some of these boilers can last even up to 50 years or longer, but even with decent annual maintenance, their efficiencies are much lower than today’s cast iron boilers. Often times, the energy savings from a new boiler replacement alone practically pays for the cost itself within a year or two.
Energy expenditures: Be mindful of increases in energy expenses. If energy bills are slowly rising, it may be due not only to the age of the boiler but also to increasing costs of the boiler maintenance. If a boiler requires constant servicing, the system has likely become less efficient. One should consider upgrading to a more reliable, durable unit such as a cast iron unit. Additionally, a noisy unit may also be a sign that it’s time for an upgrade.
Increased frequency of failures: This is a clear indicator that the boiler is due for either a major overhaul or replacement.
Leaks: A boiler that leaks or requires additional make-up water could be nearing the end of its lifecycle. By replacing the existing unit, the building manager or owner can avoid costly floods and critical boiler or property damage.
Comfort: If you notice that some rooms in a building are too hot or too cold or have varying temperatures throughout the day, it’s possible that the unit and its controls are no longer effective or the facility may benefit from more efficient controls.
Even if a boiler isn’t immediately failing, upgrading to a new system can offer significant benefits. By planning the change, rather than facing an emergency in the throes of winter, building owners and managers can realize energy savings, a more comfortable facility, tenant retention, improved heating reliability and increased property value.
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