How Long Will Your Heating System Last?

time-flies-clock-in-skyAs technology has progressed, central heating has become more energy-efficient and cost-effective. But with all the different types of central heating systems available, suitable to different environments and building types, you may find yourself asking: How long can I expect my system to last? Two years? Ten years? Forty years?

Perhaps your existing central heating system is old, but still functioning well. On the other hand, maybe you’re already having problems with a furnace or boiler that was installed only two or three years ago. Either way, you want know how long the system can be expected to provide safe, effective heating. This is especially true if you’re thinking about investing in a brand new heating system.

A heating system’s lifespan depends on a number of factors. Knowing what these factors are can help you plan for maintenance, replacement parts, or a new furnace that may be necessary in the future.

1. Fuel Source
Every central heating system needs some kind of fuel to operate, with the most common types being oil, boiler, gas, electric, and gas/electric hybrid. Of these, gas has an average lifespan of 10-15 years. Electric and hybrid systems typically last longer, between 15-20 years, while boilers and oil systems often run for 20-30 years.

The nature of the building and surrounding environment will determine what the most cost-effective choice actually is. For example, a boiler may last longer but be more expensive to run for heating a smaller space. Making the smartest investment therefore involves a careful assessment of your heating needs.

2. Quality of Components
Are the components built by a reputable manufacturer? This will definitely figure into the lifespan of your heating system. Owners of systems manufactured by reputable brands like Carrier can expect the systems to function longer at peak performance, due to superior engineering. Opting for less-expensive systems is sometimes a false economy, due to the fact that quality components make the investment go further.
3. Installation
Installing a heating systems is more complicated than it seems. If the system uses ducts, they need to be perfectly and seamlessly connected to provide equal heating throughout the building.

Hydronic systems need to be expertly and safely connected to the building’s network of water pipes, in order to prevent water from leaking and causing damage. For heating systems that use natural gas, the furnace must be linked to the gas line in a way that complies with local laws and ordinances.

Many DIY or low-quality professional installations seem do the job initially, but lead to frequent repairs over time. Initial cost savings are erased when faulty systems need constant servicing, and this can also shorten the overall lifespan of the system.

Most heating systems work for a significantly longer period of time when they’ve been installed by a qualified HVAC specialist. Proper installation is an important consideration for anyone looking to maximize the lifespan of their heating system.

4. Level of Maintenance
Because furnaces and boilers are generally installed in basements, utility rooms or other “out of the way” areas, routine maintenance is often neglected. There are also many components of heating systems that are completely hidden from view, including vents, ducts, filter and chimney interiors.

There are several DIY maintenance checks than be helpful, but it’s important to be confident and aware of any maintenance tasks performed. Most people find it simpler and more reliable to bring in a professional once or twice a year to perform a routine inspection on the heating system and all its components. This insures that filters are clean, connections are sealed, ducts are clear, and furnaces are running smoothly. In states with cold winters (like our very own New Jersey), inspections are particularly useful at the onset of the winter months, before the heating system is turned on and routinely used.

To sum it all up…

The lifespan of your central heating system depends in part on the nature of the system itself—whether it’s a gas, oil, boiler, electric or hybrid system. However, quality components, properly installed and maintained, will lead to a longer overall lifespan for your heating system.

Has this post enhanced your understanding of heating systems and the various factors that determine their lifespans? Feel free to leave any questions or comments below. We’d love to hear from you.