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How long does a boiler last?

how long does a boiler last

The short answer is: probably at least 10 years.

This depends on a lot of factors however, so read on to find out more!

A new boiler is a big investment for any household. The cost associated with purchasing a new, energy efficient boiler and installing it are around the same as getting full double glazing on one side of your home. 

This means that, when you do decide to buy a new boiler, you want to be sure that it will last for a long time.

Whether you are simply curious about the costs of a new boiler because you want a more efficient one that you’ve currently got to save yourself money or you are in urgent need of a new boiler because your current one has stopped working, this guide is designed to help you to choose the right boiler which lasts for years to come.

In this article, HomeSage’s team of boiler experts share with you:

  • how long you should expect a combi boiler to last
  • the types of warranties come with boilers today
  • the advantages of regularly servicing your boiler
  • our top tips to make your boiler last longer
  • the most frequently occurring problems with boilers as they age
  • deciding when is the right time to replace your boiler
  • which type of boiler should you get?
  • how much does a replacement boiler cost?
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How long does a boiler last if it’s a combi boiler?

Many families will have grown up with boilers which seemed to last for decades and the same can be true for new boilers. 

The engineer may have had to come out once or twice a year to fix it but it soldiered on nonetheless.

However, we are more aware now of energy efficiency.

If you’ve had your boiler for 10 years or more, it will be a lot less energy efficient than it was when it was new through normal wear and tear.

A boiler with better energy efficiency costs less to run.

Whilst it is true that the majority of manufacturers say that their boilers have a lifespan of 10-12 years or more, there is great deviation in the quality and longevity of different brands of boiler. 

Boilers are complex and hard-working pieces of machinery with multiple working parts that are required to heat up and cool down regularly. 

Strong and well-made components are the key to an efficient and long-lasting boiler so, although expensive boilers aren’t always better quality than cheaper boilers, this is a home investment you don’t want to economise on.

What types of warranties come with boilers?

Whichever boiler you choose, it will come with some kind of guarantee

This is a period of time after purchase where the manufacturer promises to repair or replace the boiler if it stops working for free.

In the UK, guarantees vary wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Warranties range from 1 year to 12 years so you should make sure you do your research before making a purchasing decision.

The table below outlines the minimum to maximum guarantee period from some of the top UK boiler manufacturers.

Ariston1 years12 years
ATAG10 years10 years
Zanussi10 years10 years
Intergas3 years10 years
Baxi2 years10 years
Ideal2 years10 years
Johnson & Starley8 years8 years
Keston7 years7 years
Alpha2 years7 years
Glow-worm2 years7 years
Vaillant2 years7 years
Vokera2 years7 years
Potterton1 year7 years
Biasi2 years5 years
Ravenheat2 years5 years
Viessmann2 years5 years
Worcester Bosch2 years5 years
Ferroli1 year5 years
Main3 years3 years

To ensure that your guarantee remains valid, you’ll need to register your boiler with the manufacturer within 30 days of installation.

You should not rely on your plumber to do this even if they say that they will.

You should make a point of chasing this up with the manufacturer before the end of the 30 day period to ensure that they have you registered.

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Should I service my boiler regularly?

Most manufacturers will require you to have your boiler serviced annually (sometimes with a pre-approved registered engineer) to keep your warranty valid.

The reason for this is not only to ensure that the boiler remains in good working order but also to ensure that it is as energy efficient as it can be.

For this reason, even though it can be pricey to pay for a service, it is still financially beneficial for you to do so as it may save you money on energy bills in the longer run.

A regular boiler service is also essential for maintaining the safety of your boiler.

A service helps to identify potentially dangerous faults which could lead to things like overheating or carbon monoxide leaks

During a service, a registered and qualified engineer performs a series of checks on the different parts of your boiler.

This is to make sure that it is operating at the right pressure, that all of its parts are strong and working properly, and so that they can perform a deep clean.

Top tips to make your boiler last longer

Whilst it is important to choose a good brand of boiler and the right type of boiler for your home and needs, it is even more important that you do a few simple things to maintain it. 

Some of the things that you can do to make your boiler last longer are:

Get an annual service

This is the simplest and most important step in keeping your boiler healthy long term.

Keep radiators clean

Performing a regular power flush and bleeding your radiators is essential to maintaining the health of your boiler as it will not have to work nearly as hard.

Install a magnetic filter

A magnetic filter is essentially a large magnet which attracts the rust particles making up the sludge that builds up within the system over time.

Add an inhibitor to your system

Much like the magnetic filter, the inhibitor is a chemical that helps to prevent limescale building up in the pipes and slowing the system down.

Insulate pipework

Insulating pipework helps to prevent freezing in winter.

Reset the timer

The timer on your boiler could reset for a number of reasons, making it harder to programme routines and schedules. 

The instruction manual which came with your boiler will tell you how to reprogram your timer. If you get stuck, contact your installer or the boiler manufacturer.

Check your boiler pressure

Most gas boilers operate at 1 – 1.5 bar – the actual will be shown on the pressure gauge as a green indicator. 

If your pressure is too low or too high, you can use the instructions in your manual to adjust it. 

Newer boilers are also programmed to automatically shut down in case of dangerous changes to pressure.

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Commonly occurring problems with boilers as they get older

Either no hot water or no heating

No hot water or heating could be a sign that your boiler has disconnected from the mains gas or electricity supply. 

If this is not the case, you should check your programmer and pump to make sure there are no faults there.

A seized or faulty pump will probably need repairing or replacing.

No hot water but the heating is fine

If you have a newer boiler, the most likely cause of no hot water is a faulty programmer or immersion heater.

If it is either of these, you will need to get the part repaired or replaced.

Another common cause is a broken cylinder thermostat meaning that you will need to replace the thermostat and test the electrical circuits for a fault.

If you have an older boiler type, the problem is more likely to be an airlock which means that your cylinder is still getting hot but no water can flow through to your taps.

Hissing and rattling from your system

Hissing or rattling in your system could be a sign of a leak.

To find out whether or not this is the case, you could try filling your boiler with water and observing how long it takes to drain. 

You could also inspect the combi boiler unit for any water where it should not be (drips or leaks visible around the unit).

Excessive air in your radiators could also cause a leak.

Leaks are very serious faults so you should have a professional look at your central heating system as soon as possible in this case.

Poor circulation

Over time, sludge can build up in your central heating system, made up of things like rust and limescale. 

If areas of your radiators are hot whilst other parts stay cold, this is a sure sign of poor circulation and you need to act to get the system working again properly.

It is most likely that you will need to perform a complete power flush at this point to get the system working again. 

Although this can cost between £250 and £450, it is crucial in preventing the problem getting any worse over time.

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When should I replace my boiler?

The rule of thumb when it comes to replacing a boiler is when it is 10+ years old

Whilst your boiler could very easily keep working for another decade after this, older boilers are far less energy efficient.

The money that you would save in the short term by keeping your old boiler is a false economy when compared to the costs of your energy bills over time.

Newer boilers are designed with the latest energy efficient technology so an A-rated boiler from a decade ago will not be as efficient as the boilers being produced now.

Make sure that you factor in the full cost of boiler installation when choosing a new boiler as you may be making significant changes to your central heating system as whole with a newer boiler.

If now’s the time to get a new boiler, what choices do I have?

The boiler you choose will come down to three major factors:

  1. the size of your home
  2. your lifestyle
  3. your budget

This will lead you to three main types of boiler:

A combi (combination) boiler 

Most households in the UK have a combi boiler

These boilers are small units which fit easily into most homes and which take water directly from the mains to heat as and when needed. 

This means that there is no hot water tank so they are more compact for smaller households.

The major downside of combi boilers is that they are not always suitable for larger households with more demand for hot water.

A system boiler

This type of boiler still takes its water supply from the mains but then moves it to a separate hot water cylinder, heating and storing it for use in your taps.

This type of boiler does require a little more space for the hot water tank (usually kept in an airing cupboard or similar)

A regular (traditional) boiler 

With a regular boiler, a large hot water tank in the attic is filled with cold water from the mains and then transferred down to the boiler for heating.

Hot water is then further transferred either to your taps via another hot water cylinder or into the radiators.

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How much does a replacement boiler cost?

The average cost of an installer new, reliable and energy efficient boiler generally starts from around £1,500.

The actual price you pay will vary depending on the manufacturer and type of boiler you choose plus the installation costs.

If you are required to make significant changes to your central heating system in order to upgrade to a newer system, this will obviously cost more.

Installing the boiler in a brand new location could add £1,000 or more to the price so it is worth doing your research first and making sure you know what is involved.

The best way to find an affordable yet decent boiler and get it installed affordably, is to get good advice from professionals. 

That’s where we come in!

Send us an enquiry on our website today and we’ll find three or four Gas Safe registered engineers in your area that can recommend the right boiler for you and your household.

You’ll get at least one free, no-obligation quote, allowing you to decide exactly which deal is the best for you.

Our new boiler installation costs article can give you more information on how much it might cost to replace your boiler, and what your options are.

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Andy is one of the HomeSage founders and an occasional content contributor. His love for boilers is only just outweighed by his love for football.