Repair or Replace? Three Common Boiler Issues

Justin Ross

Boilers heat the water that fuels your central radiant heating. They can last many years with proper care, but eventually you may need to consider a replacement. The following are three common issues that may mean it's time for a minor repair or a whole new boiler installation.

Issue #1: Rust

Boilers come in two main varieties—open systems and cold loops. Open systems have new water passing through each cycle, which can introduce oxygen into the system. Closed loops recycle and reuse the same water, so oxygen shouldn't be entering into the system at all. Open systems are more prone to rust, since oxygen is one of the necessary components for rust to form. Minor rusting that is caught early can be removed by a boiler technician, but major rusting weakens the metal, which may necessitate a new boiler installation.

Issue #2: Leaks

Since boilers run hot, water may evaporate as soon as it leaks out. In a closed system, you can often detect leaks by the presence of rust. This is because as the water evaporates out of the leak, new water comes into the boiler to replace it. This new water contains more oxygen, which then increases the chances of rust.

Leaks may also be an issue if the boiler is not maintaining proper pressure, or if signs of rust or corrosion are found inside the outer panels of the boiler. Most of the time a repair technician can fix leaks, but replacement may be necessary if major rust or corrosion has resulted from the leaks.

Issue #3: Broken Burners

The burner is the heart of your boiler system since it is responsible for heating the water that powers your furnace. If your boiler has an old rotary cup style burner, replacements may be difficult to find since these styles are obsolete due to their energy consumption. Your repair tech will likely recommend a new boiler installation in this case. Otherwise, it can be well worth it to replace the burner and burner controls if the rest of the boiler is in good, rust-free condition.

In the future, schedule annual boiler inspections and tune-ups with a service like Schweitzer Brothers Co. During these visits a tech adjusts the burner controls and pipes to avoid banging and stress on both the pipes and the burner, and they also check for leaks and external damage. You may even be able to get a service plan that includes annual inspections as part of a new boiler installation.