Tip & How-To about Heating & Cooling
Your boiler is on the blink. Now you have some big decisions to make. Do I get another opinion? How much will it cost to replace the boiler as opposed to fixing it? How much energy will be saved? Home heating with a hot water heating system is a very good way to heat. However, when the boiler does not work or leaks there are many things to think about. The troubleshooting ideas in this article will work for both steam and hot water boilers.
If there is no water running out of the boiler and it is just a control issue it may be best to get another opinion. If there is water running then there is a stop leak liquid that can be placed into the boiler as a temporary fix. It should be viewed as temporary and not a permanent fix. Either a section of the boiler will have to be replaced or the boiler may need to be completely replaced.
If the boiler is fairly new and the warranty will pay for some of the cost then replacing a section may be the way to go. Bear in mind though, that the warranty rarely covers the labor cost. Labor will need to be paid by the homeowner. If the boiler is more than 20 years old then it is a no-brainer, replace it, the increased efficiency combined with the age of the existing boiler make it a simple decision. Oil boilers especially are very much on a down hill slope by 20 years, gas boilers are often in better shape even though the efficiency is way down from what today's are. So bottom line, replace if older than 20 years. For boilers in the 10-15 year range it is often a very difficult call. Work with your heating service expert to figure the best option and I would definitely get a second or even a third opinion.
The next cause of trouble could be a failure of the controls on the boiler. Once again I would go with the 20 year rule. Unless the control that failed is relatively inexpensive I would replace the boiler. Often I have seen that when one control fails other controls are soon to follow and the beast becomes a money pit. This is especially true of oil burners. Many new boilers now come with a five year full replacement warranty that even cover labor. Once again the really hard questions come for those boilers in that five to fifteen year old age bracket. The questions get even harder when you are without heat, it is freezing outside and you do not have the time to get other opinions. At this point you have very limited options. Do make sure that you get a cost for the repair before you give the permission to fix the boiler. Electrical controls are not returnable once they have been installed. So once installed you bought them.
Questions about boiler failure and replacement are many. This should give a brief overview of the options that are available for the homeowner. There are many variables and often no answer is the completely right one. Many things depend on the situation of the homeowner, the age of the boiler, the cost of the repair, and the efficiency of the existing boiler as opposed to the efficiency of a new boiler. Many times that all adds up to a judgment call between the homeowner and the heating company.
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