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To service or not to service oil boiler

cicero38 Member Posts: 13
edited November 2017 in Oil Heating
We're now a year in living in our first home (in other words, first time having a boiler to maintain ourselves), and are debating as to whether or not we should go ahead with an annual service contract for our oil burning boiler. I know it could all come down to chance and circumstance, but I just wanted to get some opinions on this. So, is it common to sign up for these service plans? For reference, I'm eyeing a plan that seems to cover the basics, including an annual tune up. The boiler itself is an 8-year old Burnham. Any opinions appreciated.


  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,334
    First, we don’t discuss price. But I will answer your question with a question. Do you get oil changes and inspections on your car annually?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,935
    Maybe... You do need to service the boiler annually. No question on that. It needs to be cleaned internally, and the filters changed and the burner checked and probably cleaned and properly adjusted. You also need to have access to someone who will come out at Oh Dark Hundred some chilly winter night and restart the thing if it fails. Rare, but happens. Do you need an annual service contract to do that? That's a different question...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,081
    Find someone competent first and foremost. Don't assume the oil company with the contract is competent.

    After you find someone competent then discuss what services they offer. A proper cleaning and tuning will probably take a couple hours and should leave you with a printout from a digital combustion analyzer showing everything was tuned correctly.

    Also since the boiler is 8 years old and you probably have no idea about its service history I would definitely get it done this year.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,689
    Ageee with the others, but really check that contract. You may be surprised that is doesn't cover all costs, or 24-hr coverage. Most contracts now only provide for 'discounts' on parts and labor.
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,593
    Agree with the others. Get prices from different companies and compare.
    Things to ask:
    24 hour services?
    Oil price. Lock in, rack plus $, cap?
    Does the company do the emergency service or sub contractor?
    What parts are covered under the agreement?

    Most companies don't cover water parts. Extrol, auto feed, relief valve etc. as they are wear parts.
    Some companies only cover the "main zone" if there's more than one zone.

    Don't go on price alone. A reputable company that costs a little more is better than the cheap guy who doesn't show up for 2 days.
  • newagedawn
    newagedawn Member Posts: 586
    yes, definitely get it serviced, but contracts no so sure
    "The bitter taste of a poor install lasts far longer than the JOY of the lowest price"
  • New England SteamWorks
    New England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,442
    1. Your oil burner needs to be cleaned and tuned every year. So that costs something. And you must do it.
    2. With most companies, when you are a contract customer, you become a premium customer. Believe me, when the call comes in the 1st thing that is checked is if your account is current. But the 2nd thing is if you are a contract customer. And with any reputable contractor, any tech who lets a contract customer down is usually in hot water. So you're ahead in the queue.
    3. Wait until it is so cold outside that it would be scary to be without heat. This is exactly when the most no heat calls come in because all the boilers are working to their limits. Also when people like me are working around the clock. Who gets service first? Contract customers, followed by geography.
    4. So. The price of the contract is really the price of the contract minus the annual cleaning and tune-up.
    5. Once you know that number, you can decide if you feel lucky.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,306
    @New England SteamWorks has nailed it, having a contract with a reputable contractor puts you at the head of the line when things break. You have to decide if you want to pay the price for that level of service.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • cicero38
    cicero38 Member Posts: 13
    Thanks a lot everyone - it seems like the general sentiment is unanimous. And apologies for listing a price, I've since edited the original post.