If you heat your house with a radiant heat flooring system, hydronic radiator, or steam, a boiler is the main component producing the heat. Boilers work to heat water and push the hot steam or water through a pipe system to the radiant heat systems or radiators to heat your home, and they’re comfortable, efficient, and give you fewer allergens with more even heat outputs. Maybe you already have a boiler or you want to make the switch to one. If so, you could wonder about boiler replacement costs. After all, since a boiler is such a critical part of the heating system, it has to cost a lot. Right?
On average, you’ll pay between $1,500 and $15,000 for your boiler replacement cost. As you can see, this is a large price range, and it can make people nervous who are trying to create a realistic budget and find if the boiler replacement cost is feasible. Most people do end up paying right around $8,000 for a gas boiler that is very efficient and can easily heat up to a 2,000-square foot home using radiant heating in the floor.
For a new standard efficiency model, your boiler replacement cost will typically fall between $3,600 and $6,000. High-efficiency models have a higher boiler replacement cost attached to them, and they start at $6,000 and go up to $15,000. You also have to factor labor costs into the price, and this can add between $1,000 and $2,500 to the price. Your BTU needs, the brand, and the type of boiler you pick out will all cause your boiler replacement cost to fluctuate, so it’s important that you understand all of the variables.
Boilers are a very environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient way to heat your home. So, it makes sense that more and more people are turning to them over other heating methods. If you’re one of these people, you can use this guide to get a rough estimate of your boiler replacement cost before you tackle this project. Let’s dive in!
Your boiler replacement cost will vary depending on the type and size you pick out. However, it’s possible to estimate your boiler replacement cost with very few problems to help you narrow down your cost range. Portable Boiler Trailer by jblevine2004 / CC BY-SA 2.0
Fuel Type and Boiler Replacement Cost
One of the first decisions you have to make is what fuel type you want to run your boiler on. This will give you a solid base to create your budget on, and you can easily add your other cost factors in to get a nice range. The efficiency levels of the boiler and the size are the two main driving factors that impact the cost, as does the type. It’s a good idea to have a type in mind when you work on your HVAC replacement cost to get a close estimate. Each fuel type comes with a unique cost for the installation and the boiler itself, including:
An electric boiler has the distinction of being the most cost-effective to buy and install. However, they’re not powerful enough to heat an entire home from one boiler, and this is especially true if you live in a colder climate. They’re also expensive to run, even though they’re very efficient at converting energy to heat. If you have a home in a warmer climate and you have to heat your home up a few degrees, an electric boiler is a viable option. Your boiler replacement cost with this type will range from $1,500 to $9,000.
A gas boiler is an extremely common type of boiler, and it produces hot water for a hydronic or steam heating system. This is a more inexpensive option to run, and they’re very efficient. However, you’ll have to check and see if the gas is available in your area. If it’s not, you may have no choice but to pick out another boiler type. Depending on any modifications you need and the size, your boiler replacement cost could fall between $3,800 and $12,000. This includes installation costs.
This type of boiler is very common in the Northeast where it can be hard to get gas. This is a higher maintenance option, but they’ll also burn much hotter than propane or gas. You also use less oil, so this helps to even out oil’s higher price point. They’re usually less efficient than other types of boilers, and their high-efficiency models are only around 95% efficient. Your boiler replacement cost for an oil-style unit will start at $4,000 and go up to $9,000 to buy the unit and install it.
Anyone who lives in a rural area and has access to a lot of wood like maple or pine trees can look into an outdoor wood boiler. This is a bigger type of boiler that can produce a lot of heat when it’s on, but they are on the more expensive end of the spectrum. They’re cheaper to run if you have access to wood, and many of them are big enough to heat both the house and all of the hot water you can use. You’ll pay between $8,000 and $20,000 for your boiler replacement cost with this option.
Finally, propane boilers are a solid pick if you live in an area where you don’t have access to natural gas. Propane is more environmentally-friendly because it burns much cleaner than oil or gas, but it does have a higher price tag than gas. A lot of the gas burners can also run on propane if you convert them correctly, and they cost between $3,800 and $12,000 to buy and install.
Price Points and Boiler Type
Once you pick out a type of fuel, you want to pick out a boiler type. There are three main options available, and the one you choose will depend largely on how much space you want to heat and what portion of your home you want to heat like the room in general or the flooring. The boiler types are:
To buy and install a Combi-style boiler, you’ll pay between $2,600 and $6,800. This is a wall-mounted unit that is smaller, and it doesn’t come with a storage tank included. In turn, this makes it a good idea for your studio, enclosed balcony, or smaller apartment. It’ll heat the smaller homes and water for your showers or faucets. However, it works best in moderate climates that don’t get too cold and that have lower water demands. You should avoid it for larger homes.
Also known as a conventional boiler, the standard boiler can very quickly heat water in pipes that run right through the tank. They’ll send hot water out to your taps as you need it, and this boiler replacement cost sits around $3,500 for the average range. Bigger buildings or homes typically use the standard boilers, and they’re popular for both larger areas and floor heating systems because they can pack a lot of power in without driving up your costs.
Finally, you have the system boiler. They’re also referred to as sealed-system boilers, and they cost between $3,000 and $5,500 to buy and install. These boilers keep the hot water in a storage tank, and this ensures that it delivers it very quickly to multiple taps to help keep your home heated. They work best in large or average-sized homes and buildings.
Your boiler type plays a significant role in deciding your boiler replacement cost, and wall-mounted units may be great for saving space but they’re on the higher-end of the price spectrum. They’re also better suited for smaller rooms or apartments. New Boiler Installed by warhead / CC BY-NC 2.0
Boiler Efficiency and Heating Methods
Understanding boiler efficiency and heating methods is an important way to break down your boiler replacement cost while gaining better insight to how the different models work. Ideally, you’ll get a highly-efficient model that is powerful enough to heat your home and any new extensions you build on it.
Efficiency – Condensing or Non-Condensing Models
Your oil, propane, and gas boilers come in two types when you talk about the efficiency, and they include condensing and non-condensing models. A non-condensing boiler is a standard boiler. As it heats the water, it loses some heat in the form of exhaust that gets vented outside.
On the other hand, you get a condensing boiler that works to condense the exhaust to pull the heat out so it won’t get lost to the outdoors. A standard boiler has an efficiency range of 80 to 89% on average with 94% being the absolute best, a condensing model has an efficiency rating that goes as high as 98%.
A condensing boiler model has to have heat exchangers made out of stainless steel to help to survive the higher acidity levels condensing the exhaust produces. They have a lower lifespan, and they’re more expensive than a standard boiler model. Condensing boilers usually come with a higher boiler replacement cost attached to them, but they can save you money on your utility bills every month.
For a standard boiler, you can expect costs to start around $1,200 while a condensing boiler starts at $3,000. Wood-style boilers work the same way a condensing boiler does using gasification. If you want to get a high-efficiency wood boiler, pick out a gasification boiler instead of a standard condensing boiler.
Heating Methods – Hot Water or Steam
Most new homes use in-floor radiant systems or hydronic radiators. They have the boiler heat the water before sending it out to the pipes and back to the boiler as it cools down to reheat. Older homes usually have upright steam radiators, so they require a steam boiler that gets water hotter. It converts it to steam before sending it through the pipes, and it cycles back to the boiler to reheat.
Hot water boilers are more efficient and smaller than steam boilers, and they also come with a lower boiler replacement cost attached. Any boiler type will produce hot water for you, including wood-fired and electric models. Their costs start as low as $1,200, and they’re a great home improvement step to take.
A steam boiler has to be bigger to accommodate steam and water. They need to reach higher temperatures to get steam, and this makes them less efficient. Also, not all boiler types can create steam, but you do have the choice of gas, propane, or oil models. Their boiler replacement costs are slightly higher at $2,500 or $3,000.
Determining What Size Boiler You Need
No matter which boiler you choose, it’s essential that you get the correct size to adequately heat your space. If your boiler isn’t big enough, it’ll struggle to provide adequate heat. If the boiler is too large, it can shorten the boiler’s lifespan while raising your energy bills every month.
To find out what size boiler is best for your needs, you have to figure out the square footage of the room or area you want to heat. You’ll also have to find out your climate zone, and the U.S. Department of Energy put out a nice resource to use.
In zones 1 to 3, electric boilers come recommended. They only get partially used if you live in zones 4 and 5 for a smaller area like a garage. A wood boiler works best in zones 5 and up because they put out more BTUs to heat homes in colder climates, but they may be too powerful for warmer areas.
- Zones 1 and 2 – 18 to 30 BTUs
- Zone 3 – 25 to 35 BTUs
- Zone 4 – 28 to 40 BTUs
- Zone 5 – 40 to 50 BTUs
- Zones 6 and 7 – 50 to 60 BTUs
To get the correct boiler size, multiply the number of BTUs needed for every square foot of your climate zone by the area’s square footage. For example, the following are estimates for zone four:
- 1,000/sq. Feet – 28,000 to 40,000 BTUs
- 1,500/sq. Feet – 42,000 to 60,000 BTUs
- 1,750/sq. Feet – 49,000 to 70,000 BTUs
- 2,000/sq. Feet – 56,000 to 80,000 BTUs
- 2,500/sq. Feet – 70,000 to 100,000 BTUs
Labor plays a significant role in your boiler replacement cost, and more difficult or complex installs will cost you in labor fees. It can add hours onto a project, and the boiler replacement cost will rise even more if the company has to come back. Ahmad performs a test on a boiler. By Community Environmental Center / CC BY-NC 2.0
Cost to Install a New Boiler
If you’re going to install a boiler in your home for the first time, you’ll need the boiler and other parts that your boiler needs to work correctly. You’ll have to get a flue or flue pipe, exhaust, and a drain if you get a high-efficiency model. If you choose an oil, gas, or propane boiler, you’ll have to run a fuel line.
You’ll have to run a line from the outdoor boiler to the inside with a wood boiler to wherever it meets with a heat exchanger before getting to the appliances it supplies heat to. Each installation process is different, and fuel type, location, and whether or not you picked out a high-efficiency model will factor into your boiler replacement cost.
For these reasons, your costs to install a new oil, propane, or gas broiler will start at around $1,000 and go up to $3,000. You also have to factor in drains, exhaust lines, and fuel line hookups that cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000. This pushes the total average cost to $7,500. A wood boiler will cost anywhere from $2,500 to $5,200 in labor and any necessary equipment. Electric models start at $800 and go up to $1,200.
The total boiler replacement cost has many factors associated with it, and this is why there are larger price ranges for this project. The fuel type, boiler size, location, efficiency rating, and whether or not you want to upgrade to an energy-efficient model that needs a drain installed all count. If you need to remodel areas to fit your new boiler is another consideration to keep in mind.
The brand plays a role as well because some of them require that you only allow the brand’s licensed technicians to install it. These technicians are usually more highly trained, so they will charge more by the hour. Other brands may have a more difficult installation process, and this can increase your costs.
Boiler Replacement Cost
A lot of boilers can easily last up to 25 years before you have to replace them. But, some types will break down much quicker. If your boiler can’t heat your water efficiently and you’re paying out more for sub-par performance, it’s time to replace it.
You could also notice corrosion or leaks on the boiler’s exterior, or your boiler can break down and stop working altogether. If the boiler is more than a decade old, it may be time to replace it with an energy-efficient model. This is especially true if you recently upgraded something in your home like insulation because it can make your current unit too big.
Even if you already have a boiler in place, your boiler replacement costs usually run right around the same range you’d face if you installed one brand new. Newer boilers usually need a new drain, fuel line update, and an exhaust. It’s common to choose to install a new fuel line at the same time because the old one could have buildup or problems with clogs.
Some contractors charge disposal fees for an old boiler, and you may need to bring in a plumber to run new pipes to connect the boiler to your heating system. These things can drive up your boiler replacement cost significantly. The average cost falls right around $8,200, and this is right on par with the national average to install a brand new boiler.
You’ll want to take your contractor’s recommendations into consideration when you’re working out your boiler installation costs. Doing so will ensure you get the right fit for your home while keeping your project costs affordable. Boiler by Wordshore / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
How Efficiency Ratings Factor Into the Price
Every boiler you get will come with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating on it. Higher ratings mean that the boiler is able to transfer energy into heat better, and this can lower both the environmental impact and your heating bills. If your boiler has an AFUE of 90, this means that it transfers 90% of the energy that the boiler gets into heat. The higher the rating, the more your boiler replacement cost will be.
- 90 AFUE or Higher – High efficiency, and it can reduce your heating costs by an impressive 30%.
- 89 to 89 AFUE – Standard in most homes, and it’s around 35% cheaper than a high-efficiency model.
- 56 to 70 AFUE – You can find this efficiency rating in older homes, but you can’t buy them anymore.
Your thermal efficiency stands for what the boiler can transfer from the heating chamber into the water. Sediment buildup, corrosion, or design flaws can make your thermal efficiency decline over time. This means that while you may start out with a 90% AFUE, you could end up with a boiler that functions closer to 80%.
Cost to Maintain Your Boiler
Your boiler type will dictate how much it costs to maintain it. Electric boilers tend to have the lowest maintenance costs out of all of the types, and you’ll have to have it drained once a year or so to remove any sediment. Oil boilers require the most maintenance, and you’ll have to arrange to have it cleaned regularly. This is usually an annual process for every boiler type, and it can increase your ongoing boiler replacement cost budget by $50.00 to $500 a visit.
Price to Enhance or Improve Your Boiler
There are several optional things you can do to enhance or improve how well your boiler works, and they won’t really impact your boiler replacement cost unless you choose to implement them. However, it’s good to know what options you have available, and the biggest ones include:
- Generator – Anyone who routinely experiences power outages can benefit from having a portable generator on hand. This will keep your boiler running whether or not you have electricity, and it can increase your boiler replacement cost by $750 for the average price.
- Insulation – Adding insulation to your boiler will help make it more energy-efficient because this insulation will stop heat loss. You’ll pay between $50.00 and $100 to add it to your boiler.
- Old Boiler Removal – A lot of HVAC contractors will remove your old boiler at no additional cost, but some will charge between $50.00 and $200 to remove and dispose of it. The price depends on the boiler age, type, and size.
- Programmable Thermostat – If you upgrade your home’s heating system, it’s a good idea to also upgrade your thermostat. A programmable thermostat can help you save energy by setting times when it’ll switch your boiler off if you’re not home. Expect to pay between $150 and $250 for the unit and the installation costs.
- Wall-Mounted Unit – Some boilers are compact and light enough to mount to the wall to save space. These are smaller units that are usually energy-efficient, and they can cost around $4,000 at the low end.
Where to Find Boiler Installation Experts Near You
If you’re looking for boiler installation experts, it’s best to contact a few different companies in your area to get a good feel for the price ranges. The following resource will give you a good starting point for your search:
Frequently Asked Questions
Getting a few estimates from local contractors will help you find out your boiler replacement cost with any specific price nuances that are specific to your area. This is especially important if you’re new to your location. Boiler Nov 1 by G MacRae / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Since most people don’t think about their boilers until they have a problem, it’s understandable that there are many questions surrounding your boiler replacement cost. We’ve picked out the most frequently asked ones and answered them for you here:
1. When is a good time to replace your boiler?
Ideally, you’ll want to replace your boiler if it is 15 to 20 years old or older. You could even replace it if it’s 10 years old because it won’t be as energy-efficient as newer models. This can reduce your carbon emissions and help you save on utility bills.
2. Are older boilers dangerous?
No, most older boilers aren’t dangerous to have. However, they may not work nearly as well as newer models, and they’re not as energy-efficient as you can get today.
3. How do boilers work?
Your boiler will work by heating water as it passes through several metal pipes. The boiler will then force the water through the pipes all over your home, including in-floor pipes or to the radiator that will then give off heat to keep the space warm.
4. Can you get a plumber to install a new boiler?
Yes. It’s common for most plumbers to be able to work confidently on HVAC systems without needing any additional certifications.
Your boiler replacement cost will depend on a variety of factors, and each installation process is unique. This guide will serve to give you a good starting point to build your budget. You’ll be able to get the boiler you need to heat your space for years to come.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.