Some of you may think that I’m going to write about boxing’not this time. I’m writing about boilers. It seems many contractors have moved on to the lighter weight wall-hung boilers either for the replacement or new home market, and I must admit, from the selling side, the light weights seem to be gaining in popularity. Why not? Besides the lighter weight, the availability of a combination hot water and heating boiler, good rebates and a 95 percent efficiency rating all seem to be the reason for the increase in sales.
However, even though many of the wall-hung hot water boilers have been on the market for 10 or more years, I often wonder what the lifespan of these units are. Will they last 30 years or longer like the old heavy weights? And will they required maintenance to be performed on the light weights as required? I would almost bet the majority of these units are not getting the service they, too, require on an annual basis. I know all the gas promotions say that gas is a clean fuel and it is, but the units still need annual servicing and efficiency testing.
I recently had a conversation with a contractor who was having difficulty getting a new LP wall-hung boiler to perform as expected, and I could sense frustration setting in. Trying to help, I asked, what the gas pressure was and what was he getting for a combustion reading. We know you can’t see the flame’s performance, so an analyzer is a must. The answer to the LP pressure was: ‘I’m not sure, and there was no combustion test performed because an analyzer was not available.” At this point, I suggested purchasing the test equipment in order to do the install correctly, per the installation instructions.
My next question to everyone reading this article and that are installing the high efficiency wall-hung boilers is: what do you stock for replacement parts? I would suggest that very few contractors stock even the most essential parts. You may want to check with your supplier to be sure they have all the parts for an emergency, including the control board. Next, what have you scheduled as a time frame for flushing the exchanger? This is another vital part of the service that supports heat transfer. If you’re not sure what to use to perform this service, check the manual and ask your local supplier for the flush kit that includes all you will need to get the job done. Every two years, normally, is the suggested time frame.
Like many of you, I look back upon the oil-fired, cast iron heavy weight boilers that were installed well over 25 years ago and that have lasted well beyond their 20 year life expectancy, which was the warranty period. Will the light weights last this long? Today, the oil heavy weights are operating at 85-87 percent and offer a limited lifetime warranty and 99 percent of all the replacement parts can be purchased from your local supplier. Also keep in mind, manufacturers of both the light and heavy weights are focusing more on the condition of the water that is going through the system, and that could affect the warranty.