Boiler Repair or Replace – Which is Best?

boiler repair or replace

Numerous buildings rely on a commercial boiler as part of an HVAC system for heat. A properly working commercial boiler is essential to ensure temperatures don’t get too cold inside the building. Numerous manufacturing companies rely on boilers to produce hot water or steam that is required in their processes.  Without the supply of steam or hot water, plant operations can grind to a hold.

Sadly, many facilities avoid addressing boilers until there’s an issue that can’t be ignored. If you’re lucky enough to avoid needing an emergency replacement, simply repairing your boiler may seem like the most cost-effective and efficient way of getting your heating back up and running. 

However, it’s not often so cut and dry. Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether it’s best to repair or replace a commercial boiler.


Safety Considerations Boiler Repair or Replace

Always consider safety first and foremost. If your boiler is old, it might not meet modern laws, codes, and guidelines for boiler safety and operation. Consult a professional boiler service company to ensure your boiler is safe and see if it can be safely repaired. 

Age of the Boiler

Boiler Age Considerations Boiler Repair or Replace

Even top-quality commercial boilers aren’t designed to last forever. Condensing boilers can last up to fifteen years, some designs up to 30 years  or more (see Bryan’s FreeFlex, for example), if properly maintained and serviced. Cast iron boilers can last 20  years or more, but they are much less energy-efficient, compared to condensing boilers in building heat applications.

If there’s an issue with a boiler that’s also approaching the end of its lifespan, a replacement is probably the better option. You could repair an old boiler, only to have it break down beyond repair months later. However, if your boiler has a few years left and only needs minor repairs, opting for a repair is a cost-effective alternative to a replacement. 

It’s important to note, having an “old” boiler – one that is at or over its life expectancy – is not illegal, but it’s safe and reliable operation needs to be reviewed.


Energy Efficiency Considerations Boiler Repair or Replace

While your boiler can potentially still have some years left, it might be time to replace one if it’s becoming expensive to use. 

If you begin to notice higher utility costs than average, it indicates that the boiler is not operating at its rated efficiency. It may need a minor repair, possibly a tuneup or cleaning on the water or fire side, or replacement with a newer, more efficient unit may be warranted. 

Maintenance and repairs can help, but it’s likely time to replace if you find yourself making frequent service calls. A new boiler will be running on maximum efficiency; therefore, it will be using less fuel and, in turn, it will keep fuel costs down. A boilers initial purchase price is a small part of its life-cycle cost, fuel costs is the largest contributor, money spent on a replacement can save you money in the long run.

is replacing a boiler cost efficient

Final Recommendation

When deciding if it’s better to repair or replace your commercial boiler, you’ll want to consider the age, safety, and energy efficiency. If the boiler is old and less efficient, dumping money into something that may entirely stop working or pose a hazard is a poor decision. If it’s safe and has a few years of life left in it, repairs by a professional can keep it going for a few more years until you have it replaced. 

One of the ways we can help is with an accurate payback estimate. One of our experts will visit your facility, and review the current state of the equipment and its operation.  Then, taking into account your existing boiler’s efficiency, your current fuel bill, and how a new boiler will operate in your system, develop a payback estimate that you can use to weigh the benefits of replacement versus repair.

Contact our team of service technicians who are well trained to help you with your preventative boiler maintenance, inspection, and turn-ups. 

Jeff Lawley

After graduating from Florida State University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Jeff Lawley headed up the engineering department at Schaefer Interstate Railing. A few years later, he took an Engineering Sales position here at W.C. Rouse & Son, and over the next 8 years, he worked his way up to the position of President of the company.