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How Long Should a Boiler Last in Minnesota?

Minnesota winters can be brutal. And they can put a hurtin’ on your boiler.

So how long should your boiler last in Minnesota? Well, the average boiler lifespan is anywhere from 15 to 20 years.

But here’s the tricky part: boilers can last a lot longer—or a lot shorter—than the average lifespan.

You see, the exact lifespan of your boiler depends on the following factors:

  1. The kind of boiler you have
  2. Whether it’s oversized/undersized for your home
  3. Whether it’s had annual maintenance

Let’s look at how those 3 factors affect how long your boiler will last in Minnesota…

Factor #1: The kind of boiler you have

Minnesota homeowners usually have one of 2 different kinds of boilers:

  1. Gas
  2. Electric

Gas boilers usually outlast electric boilers by quite a few years:

  • Gas boiler average lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Electric boiler average lifespan: 8-10 years

Now if you have a gas boiler, there’s yet another classification that determines the boiler lifespan:

  • Condensing boilers
  • Non-condensing boilers

Basically, condensing boilers are more modern and are at least 25% more efficient than non-condensing boilers. However, condensing boilers have a shorter lifespan than non-condensing boilers.

This has to do with the way that condensing boilers are designed. You see, condensing boilers hold onto flue gases longer in order to capture more heat (instead of allowing gases to quickly escape out of the home). The problem is that those flue gases are extremely acidic, which causes increased wear and tear on a boiler’s components—and eventually decreases its lifespan.

Factor #2: Whether the boiler is oversized/undersized

Some professionals estimate that over 85% of boilers in the U.S. are sized improperly. The bad news is that if your boiler is improperly sized, it will have a much shorter lifespan than it’s supposed to.

Why? Well a boiler that’s...

  • Too big will heat the home quickly then shut off. This constant ON then OFF pattern will wear out the motors and other components in the boiler.
  • Too small will run non-stop, causing unnecessary strain on the motors and other components in the boiler.

Boilers are sized according to how much heat they put out in one hour (measured in BTUs). The higher the BTU output of a boiler, the “larger” it is, meaning the more heat it creates in a single hour.

The professional who initially installed the boiler should have inspected your home and performed a “heat loss calculation” to determine the boiler size you need. This entails looking at various factors such as square footage, number of windows/doors, amount of insulation, etc. But if they used rule-of-thumbs (such as using 23 Btu per sq ft to size a boiler), you probably have a system that’s too big or too small.

So how do you know whether your boiler is oversized or undersized? Well, you can start by looking for the following signs…

Signs your boiler is oversized:

  • Boiler short cycles (turns on then quickly turns off)
  • Frequent leaks in the boiler system
  • Hot and cold spots throughout the home

Signs your boiler is undersized:

  • Home never gets to desired temperatures on particularly cold days
  • Boiler runs non-stop on cold days

Factor #3: Whether the boiler has had annual maintenance

If you don’t have your boiler maintained at least once every year, you’re wasting money and shortening the lifespan of your boiler.

Why? Well, according to Energy Star, regular maintenance prevents future problems and repairs that could cause premature system failure.

When a quality professional performs boiler maintenance, they should:

  • Check the gas connections for proper operation and pressure
  • Check and clean the burner combustion and
  • Check and change air filters
  • Lubricate all moving parts (for decreased energy usage)
  • Tighten all electrical connections
  • Check controls of system for proper and efficient operation

Our professional suggestion is to have your boiler maintained at least once a year—right before the heating system.

Think your boiler might be on its way out? Ask a Minnesota tech

If your boiler is showing signs of slowing down, don’t wait for it to die and leave you without heat when you need it most.

Instead, contact us. We’ll send over an honest tech who can inspect your system and offer advice on whether to repair or replace—no funny business or high pressure tactics, either. That’s not how we operate.