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When should I replace my boiler?

For a species that relies so heavily on boilers for half of the seasonal year, you’d think that we would know a lot more about them – but understanding boilers isn’t as easy as it should be.

Of course, there are the obvious signs that your boiler isn’t working correctly – like having to endure an excruciatingly cold shower out of the blue! There are also less obvious things to keep a watchful eye out for which could indicate your boiler is on the brink of a breakdown.

Here’s our top 8 warning signs that your boiler needs replacing:

1. You’ve had your boiler for more than 7 years

We’re told to respect our elders, but when it comes to boilers, that saying goes out the window. The life span of each boiler can vary, but ultimately your boiler should last up to 7 – 10 years.
If your boiler manages to make it that long, it’s likely that after that point, it won’t be of much use to you.

So, if your boiler is close to retirement, then you might want to think about investing in a replacement, despite how much it might pain you to fork out that much money.

Arranging annual service checks will also maintain the wellbeing of your boiler, which will consequently increase the likelihood of it having a long and healthy life – maybe even making it to the big 15.

Think of it like owning a car: to maintain our car and ensure it doesn’t have any malfunctions, we get an MOT, which will prevent any unwanted breakdowns. So, to avoid any nasty, unwelcome surprises this winter, remember to get your boiler serviced.

2. Your energy bills are increasing

Are your energy bills making you nervous, gradually creeping up each month? If so, it’s likely that your boiler needs replacing. A boiler’s efficiency will usually decrease as it gets older, leading to more expensive energy bills.

Rather than panicking and scrapping your boiler straight away, start by checking its efficiency rating. According to British Gas, A-rated boilers operate at more than 90% efficiency, while G-rated models run at 70% or less. So, if your boiler is on a lower rating, it’s time to put some money aside for a replacement – before your energy bills take it all.

3. The blue flame in your boiler has turned yellow

A healthy boiler should burn brightly with a blue flame. If your boiler’s flame is yellow, then you must call an engineer immediately so they can assess the seriousness of the situation.

The reason this is taken so seriously is because a yellow flame could suggest some sort of malfunction involving the carbon monoxide in your boiler. As carbon monoxide is odourless, it can be hard to distinguish, but it’s vital that it is spotted right away – so keep an eye out for that yellow flame.

4. Your boiler is leaking

A leak doesn’t always mean it’s time to ditch your boiler and run – it can simply mean that there’s some sort of issue with an internal component, such as a seal or valve. In this case, it’s time to call an engineer out, before it leads to other issues – such as rust and corrosion, or structural damage to your home – which you’ll definitely want to avoid.

If leaks are becoming increasingly common, it’s a sign that your boiler is not the young whipper-snapper that it used to be, and needs to be replaced.

Above all, having a leak in your boiler will mean that your heating will be inefficient, leaving you waiting impatiently for the radiators to work their magic.

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5. Your radiators take longer to heat up

This is not to say that every time you’re waiting for the heat to start warming you up, you should panic and get a new boiler. Remain calm.

Sometimes, if your radiators are taking their time to get toasty, it might mean an internal malfunction – point four, for example – but often it’s a sign of a worn-out boiler that is approaching the end of its days.

6. Your boiler is giving off a bad smell

We’re not just being pedantic here – a bad smelling boiler can be a sign of a dangerous boiler.

Although carbon monoxide has no odour, a sour smelling boiler may be a sign of a potential gas leak. If this is the case, turn off your boiler immediately and contact the Gas Emergency Services on 0800 111 999.

Once this fiasco is over, you might want to think about getting yourself a replacement boiler.

7. Your boiler isn’t an ‘A grade’ boiler

As we stated earlier, there is a huge difference between A-grade boilers and G-grade boilers. This difference not only means that G graded boilers are inefficient, but also means they can be much more costly. To put this into perspective, if you are using a G-graded boiler, for every £1 you spend on your heating bill, you are wasting 30p on lost energy.

This might not sound much at all, but when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture over a year, replacing your boiler with a more energy efficient model could save you up to £305 a year on your heating bills.

8. Replacement parts are harder to find

If you’re struggling to find the correct parts for the particular brand / model of your boiler, it can often mean that your boiler is getting a bit worse for wear.

Take this opportunity with both hands, and replace your boiler before you end up experiencing one of the previous seven signs, which will probably land you with more expensive bills. You can thank us later.

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New boiler vs replacement boiler

Before we move onto the cost of replacement boilers, there’s something we need to make clear – there is a difference between a new boiler and a replacement boiler. But what is the difference? And no, this isn’t a trick question.

If you’re getting a new boiler, it means this is the first time you’ve had this specific model, and you’ll need all-new infrastructure installed along with the machine. For example, if you’re going from a system boiler to a combi boiler, you will need to start from scratch.

Whereas, if it’s a replacement boiler, it’s a different (and hopefully more up-to-date) version of the same model, which means you’ll already have a lot of the necessary parts in place.

So, if you’re thinking of getting a new boiler, it will probably be a bit more pricey than a replacement boiler, as you’ll be starting from scratch. On the flip-side, getting either a new boiler or a replacement boiler will mean that you’re likely to save money on your bills over time. We’re in it for the long-run.

Installation costs

We can only really give rough estimates on pricing. Prices for installations can change quite drastically for various different reasons, which means you’re going to have to do your research, as each company will differ in price.

Take a look below at the most common factors that can affect how expensive your boiler installation will be:

• Power flush – a power flush cleanses your central heating system and removes any elements that may cause harm to your boiler, such as rust or debris. Having this installed with your boiler will be an additional cost, but may also prevent future issues with it – saving you money in the long-run.

• Your current boiler and central heating system – if your current boiler system is different to the one you’re hoping to install, it’s likely to mount up to more money, as you’ll need to buy new additional parts (see our earlier section on new boilers vs replacement boilers).

• Boiler brand and model – each boiler brand, model, and size will vary in price. As each of these factors will change the price of the boiler, you will need to figure out which one will be the most cost efficient for your home, and more affordable to install.

• Your system may need additional parts – boilers aren’t often simple, and although we hope you don’t come across any issues, these things can happen. For example, the gas pipe in your boiler might need to be re-run, or it may require a condensate pipe for the first time. This will create more work for the engineer, and they will likely charge more for the installation.

• Building works – depending on whether your previous boiler caused any damage, such as leaks, there may be additional construction work that will need to be carried out before the engineer can install your new boiler

Are you eligible for a free boiler installation?

Investing in a new boiler can be quite costly, and many people simply don’t have the funds. This is where Government boiler grants come into play. For example, Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) is a Government scheme that has been set up to help low-income households have access to home efficiency improvements. This will reduce the cost of their energy bills, and even reduce their carbon footprints.

Although it would be great if we were all eligible for this, there are certain requirements that applicants must have to be able to have access to ECO, such as:

• You must own your home

• Private tenants must have permission from the landlord

• You must receive a UK government benefit (see below)

• Your existing boiler must be more than six years old

To qualify for ECO, applicants must also receive one of the following UK Government benefits:

  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Pension Guarantee Credit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income Support
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Tax Credits (Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits)
  • Universal Credit
  • War Pensions Mobility Supplement
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If your benefit isn’t on the list you can still fill in our form and we’ll check your eligibility for you.