A sturdy boiler can provide many years of effective heating for your commercial building. However, even the most reliable boiler system will eventually start to fail. When properly maintained, commercial boilers can last for 15 years or more – many have been known to last much longer than that. Here is an introduction to boilers and some factors to consider when deciding if it’s time start preparing for a boiler replacement.
Boilers: the Basics
Boilers use combustible fuels such as natural gas or oil to heat water and produce steam that provides hydronic heat for a commercial building. Boilers also provide hot water for bathrooms, kitchens and industrial operations. Boiler and hydronic equipment can work at low or high pressures, depending on the type of system, but hot water will always be present. Safety precautions should always be taken when working with commercial-grade boilers.
- Age – Age is often a prime consideration when thinking about replacing a boiler, but it’s not the only factor. A properly maintained boiler will most likely last longer than one not maintained. Boilers that are 15 years or older may be coming to the point where age is likely to become an issue.
- Performance – Over time, a boiler may start losing efficiency and heating performance. When this happens it’s a sign that your boiler may be a good candidate for replacement. Preventative maintenance and professional repairs will keep your equipment working longer, but eventually an aging boiler will need to be upgraded or replaced.
- Condition – A boiler that is still in good condition will probably last a few more years. In considering and evaluating the condition of your boiler, there are many factors to consider; the metal condition, any rust present, leaks, the function of burners and burner controls, the condition of the doors, even the brickwork in the combustion area.
Things to Consider Before you Replace your Boiler
- Size – Your replacement boiler must be the proper size to provide sufficient amounts of hot water or steam for your facility. When talking about your boiler, size refers to the system’s functional capacity to produce heat, not its actual physical dimensions. The HVAC professionals at Oregon Cascade Plumbing & Heating can conduct a load calculation on your building to determine how much heating you need. With this information and professional guidance, it is relatively easy to select a boiler that will meet your needs.
- Efficiency – Older boilers typically offer lower efficiency than newer models. This means they use more fuel to produce the same amount of heat. New boilers offer higher operational efficiency, giving you more heating at a lower cost, by using less fuel. Commercial boilers are rated using an AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating. Boilers with an AFUE of 80 or above are considered high efficiency and can earn government Energy Star program certification.
- Installation – Proper installation is essential when your boiler is replaced. Pressure produced by hot water and steam can pose a danger in an improperly installed boiler. Dangerous gasses, water leaks or even explosions can result from an improperly installed boiler. Make sure only qualified professionals install and service your building’s boiler.
- Ventilation – Boilers burn combustible fuel, and as a result they produce gases and fumes. The most common and most dangerous of these gasses is carbon monoxide, a highly poisonous gas can’t be seen smelled or tasted. A properly ventilated boiler system ensures combustion gases are safely and effectively routed out of your building, keeping everyone inside safe.
The professionals at Oregon Cascade Plumbing and Heating can maintain your boiler to prevent problems and extend the lifespan of your system. When the time comes to replace your boiler, we can make sure you have the right system, professionally installed, with an ongoing preventative maintenance program to keep it in tip top shape. Call us today to schedule an assessment of your buildings boiler or plumbing system. 503-588-0355