Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Gas water boiler: replace or no?

PadKraPow Member Posts: 2
I have a small house in Alaska, NG, with baseboard heat from a HydroTherm boiler which is original to the house (1985). It's ticking along fine.
However, I had some leaky pipes earlier this year and called a plumber out; he said to absolutely replace the boiler before the snow flies. He said not to spend any more money on repairs, but to get the whole shooting match out.

Given that I have the boiler plus a tank water heater, I figured the natural step would be to replace it with a combination on-demand heater/boiler.
So I called a P&H guy who was highly recommended, and he said yes, go combi, he loves Lochinvar and recommends them, and gave me a price.

However, now I can't reach him, so I called a couple other places.
One couldn't come out yet, but gave me a good estimate (though sight unseen) for a Navien combi.
Another well-recommended P&H guy came to look and said it was absolutely not necessary to replace it, and that combi units are discontinued so often and parts are not stocked in state, so it's far better to stick with the HydroTherm. He suggested a servicing/cleaning, which of course I'm happy to do, and maybe a new water heater as it's more than 10 years old.

All that said ... I have the money right now. If a 1985 HydroTherm is going to continue to function just fine for another 10+ years, okay. But is it better to replace it with a new unit while I've got the funds? I don't want it taking a dump in mid-winter in Alaska. What's the real lifespan of what I have now?


  • Docfletcher
    Docfletcher Member Posts: 487
    edited September 2019
    I'm not a pro but I'd keep it if it passes a combustion analysis and inspection. Some pros seem to prefer to sell you new stuff wheather truely needed or not.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,559
    Alaska? Parts availability for anything even slightly exotic is going to be a problem. I'd go with the person who suggested cleaning and servicing.

    Oh -- and various folks have reported problems sizing combis so that they are adequate for domestic hot water but not wildly oversized for the heating loads.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,875
    34 years in Alaska. I'm not a fan of combi boilers so you could look at a mod con, indirect water heater and ODR.
    Or a new atmospheric and indirect and ODR. Or convert to oil.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,041
    Ask the folks you have talked with what the availability of parts and service is for what they are recommending in your area. Parts are tough enough to find in the lower forty eight. We discuss that topic often on this sight.
    I can only imagine that parts and service are twice as hard to come by in your area.