The decision to replace a commercial boiler depends on several factors, and it’s often based on a combination of technical, economic, and regulatory considerations. Here are some common indicators that suggest a commercial boiler may need replacement:
While age alone is not the only factor, it can be an important consideration. Commercial boilers typically have a potential lifespan of 10 to 15 years, depending on factors such as maintenance, usage, and technology. However advances in boiler technology and particularly in their efficiency, now mean it may be more cost effective to replace a boiler sooner, to deliver greater savings in the long run.
Also, as a boiler approaches the end of its expected life, the likelihood of frequent breakdowns and reduced efficiency increases, can make replacement a more pragmatic option.
2. Frequent Breakdowns
If a boiler requires frequent repairs or experiences breakdowns that lead to downtime and disruptions in business operations, it may be more cost-effective to invest in a new, reliable system. For hotels and offices, if there are regular breakdowns, there will be complaints, unhappy customers and loss of staff morale.
3. Energy Efficiency
Older boilers are less energy-efficient than newer models. A non-condensing boiler may be around 70% efficient when compared to a new condensing boilers that could be as high as 97% efficient. Upgrading to a more energy-efficient boiler can therefore result in significant cost savings on fuel consumption over time. As fuel costs have increased significantly, this difference in old to new boiler running costs is exacerbated and the decision to replace a seemingly healthy, but inefficient boiler made easier.
Energy efficiency improvements may also align with sustainability and decarbonisation/carbon reduction goals and environmental regulations. It can become a central pillar in your own decarbonisation or carbon reduction strategy.
4. Compliance Issues
Changes in safety regulations and environmental standards may render an existing boiler non-compliant. If the boiler cannot be maintained to current regulations, replacement may be necessary to ensure regulatory compliance. This could be from the boiler itself or the flue system. The recent job we did at Tower Hotel in London was to replace the flue that had become ineffective and could have had the potential to put guests at risk through carbon monoxide or other waste gas leakage.
5. Increased Operating Costs
Rising operational costs, including fuel expenses and maintenance costs, may indicate that the boiler is becoming less cost-effective to operate. Investing in a new, more efficient system can lead to long-term savings.
When Kimpton work with a client on a PPM (Planned Preventative Maintenance) basis we monitor this across all plant. Our first job with any new client is to create a plant list and then, working with the client, look at creating a planned replacement schedule, even if this is over many years. That way, as a business, you can plan for future costs and avoid unnecessary breakdown and disruption.
6. System Upgrades or Expansion
If a business undergoes changes that require increased heating capacity or system upgrades, the existing boiler may no longer meet the facility’s demands. In such cases, replacement and/or additional plant with a more suitable and efficient systems may be warranted.
We are seeing this more regularly now with the change of use aspect of some commercial buildings. The water and heating requirement for an office will be totally different to that of a factory, hotel or accommodation unit. When we work on the Cat A fit out or mechanical and electrical services upgrade, this changing requirement is always planned in to make sure it is fit for its new purpose. Often, this may require a total plant room upgrade. or a change to heat pump technology and away from gas altogether.
7. Uneven Heating or Hot Water Supply
If the boiler is no longer providing consistent heating or hot water throughout the facility, it may be a sign of deteriorating performance. Inconsistent performance can impact the comfort of occupants and disrupt normal business operations.
We have seen a move back towards separate hot water heaters and storage to mitigate this. Heating demand is generally reasonably steady and predictable through the day and with the changing seasons. Hot water demand, particularly in a hotel or residential environment, can have a massive requirement for morning showers and then very little throughout the rest of the day. Hot water storage as a buffer, can help overcome this.
8. End-of-Life Considerations
Planning for boiler replacement before it reaches the end of its life allows for a smoother transition. Proactive replacement can be scheduled during periods of low demand, minimising disruptions to business operations.
We have worked with schools to upgrade their plant rooms over many years and the general requirement is to plan for replacement during Easter and Summer holidays to avoid any disruption to the school life. With hotels and offices, there maybe no obvious shutdown period but it can be programmed over a Christmas or summer shutdown. When we complete upgrades or replacements in hospitals, the work is generally programmed for overnight, again to minimise disruption.
But it as ALL about planning and you can only do this with an honest assessment of the plant you are operating.
9. Fuel Type Changes
If a business wants to transition to a different fuel type for environmental or economic reasons there may be a need to replace the boiler or plant system. For example if you are in the countryside with no mains gas and it then becomes available, it would probably be sensible to switch to a LPG based system, rather than remaining with heating oil. In most cases, replacing the boiler would be necessary to accommodate the new fuel requirements.
We are seeing more electric boilers on the market and, given the right conditions, they can be a logical choice for a replacement or system upgrade for a traditional gas boiler, if you have Solar PV or wind offsetting some of the running costs.
10. Gen Z pressure
We are increasingly seeing genuine feedback from Gen Z and Millennial customers that they would actively choose a place to live that utilised lower carbon technology for heating and hot water. This has then swept through the market with developers specifying that almost all new installations are designed around heat pumps, rather than gas boilers.
ASHP & GSHP are viable options as boiler replacements, but will more than likely entail pipework and heat emitter replacements. This can be avoided by using large scale high temperature heat pumps or a combination of air-to-water AND water-to-water heat pumps but would require a much larger electrical demand that may be as limited in availability as natural gas and COULD increase the carbon footprint of the building or dwelling if not offset with other technologies such as solar PV or wind.
It’s essential for businesses to assess and understand the condition of their commercial boiler, hot water or heating provision and evaluate the factors mentioned above.
Regular maintenance through a PPM contract and careful, scheduled monitoring can also help identify issues early on and guide decisions regarding repair or replacement.
If you have a heating, cooling or hot water requirement and would like to better understand the options available to you for replacement or upgrade, then please get in touch with the Kimpton team and we can give you the advice you need and the service you hope for.