A common question among my clients is how long is a ducted heater will last?
This is a debatable question and one that cannot be explicitly answered, however there are certain standards that are accepted by most heating specialists within the industry.
Most components of a modern ducted heating system , electrical or mechanical, can be replaced, so in general when people discuss the life of a given ducted heater they are referencing the life of the heat exchanger itself .
The Heat Exchanger is arguably the most vital component of a heating system. If it fails, or cracks, it creates a potentially dangerous situation where the heater emits Carbon Monoxide and must be replaced.
So how long does a heat exchanger last?
Typically heat exchangers last between 13 and 20 years with an average of 15 years.
This can vary based on the model of heater build quality and the intervals in with the heater is serviced as well.
Some older ducted heater with heavy gauge metal heat exchangers, could last as long as 30 years.
Although these types of heaters may last a long time, they were also very inefficient. Manufacturers today generally use a type of steel heat exchanger in their equipment constructed stainless or aluminized metal.
The above images are both examples of cracked heat exchanger in 2 of the industries major manufactures.
What can you do to make your heater last longer?
Heat exchangers will inevitably fail due to the constant heating and cooling of the metal. This causes the metal to expand under heat & contract when it cools down. In time all metal will fracture under these conditions.
There are things you can do to help increase the overall life.
Proper maintenance – Regular maintenance by a qualified technician will ensure the heater safe to operate is running within manufacturer’s specifications.
Regular filter Cleaning – A dirty return air filter will restrict the amount of air your heater circulates which can cause it to over heat and therefore lower the lifespan of the heat exchanger. Inspect your filter on a regular basis (every 30-60 days for most systems) and either vacuum or wash it to keep your system running efficiently and properly.
No one can guarantee how long a heater will last and some cases if an expensive part or multiple components fail at one time, it may be in your best interest to replace the heater anyway, regardless of heat exchanger damage.
By following these tips, you can help to get the most out of your heater for many years.