In a recent post, we looked over the difference between forced-air and radiant heating systems for homes. The most common type of radiant heating system is the boiler, which distributes hot water to points around the home where heat then radiates into the space to warm people.
One of the advantages we pointed out about using a boiler is that it can outlast most other heating systems… and on average requires fewer repairs. But what is it about the boiler that gives it special longevity compared to a furnace or a heat pump? We’ll take a closer look at that.
The Secret of the Long Life of a Boiler
Okay, it’s not really a secret. What gives a boiler the advantage when it comes to its service life is that it’s a less complex piece of machinery than either a furnace or heat pump. A boiler doesn’t use many moving parts to do its job. For example, a boiler doesn’t require a blower fan and motor, since it doesn’t distribute heat through moving around the air. The boiler only has to use a small, easily repaired circulator pump to send water out to the various terminal points. And the boiler doesn’t need a compressor or numerous electrical components like a heat pump.
This reduced number of mechanical moving parts in a boiler means the system suffers less stress as it operates. Stress is what causes any powered system to age and eventually fail completely. A boiler doesn’t encounter as much strain, and therefore ages slowly. Most boilers will last more than 20 years provided they receive the regular maintenance that keeps away issues like leaks and corrosion.
Boilers have some specific dangers that don’t affect other heating systems. This is because of the presence of water, which creates corrosion and can leave mineral and other deposits in the tank. However, annual inspections and tune-ups, such as flushing the tank, make it easy to keep these problems at bay for many years.