Is Your Commercial Heating System Ready for an Upgrade?

Upgrading your commercial heating system is not a trivial decision. Not only will it require the expense of investment in new equipment, but it will also cause disruptions as the upgraded system is put in and tested. Ductwork may have to be replaced to accommodate the new equipment's capacity. Your facility will be without heat for however long it takes to get the new equipment installed and working. However, there comes a time when you can no longer put off a commercial heating system upgrade no matter the cost or inconvenience. Here are some of the signs you can look for to help you decide if it's time for an upgrade.

  • System age: Any decision to upgrade your commercial heating system should start with an assessment of the system's age. This should not be the only criteria you use, but it is an excellent beginning point for evaluating the status of your current HVAC equipment. The average functional lifespan of a commercial furnace or boiler is fifteen years, while heat pumps last around ten years. Keep in mind these are average lifespans; it is entirely possible that your commercial system will last much longer. Heating equipment that has been properly maintained, repaired when necessary, and operated sensibly will likely provide many more years of service than average. When making a decision to replace, consider age in combination with other factors on this list.
  • System condition: If your heating system has been given proper maintenance and care, it will last longer than one that has been neglected or only maintained occasionally. Evaluate the overall condition of your heating system when making your replacement decision.
  • System performance: The ability of your heating system to provide the amount of heat you require, when you want it, is a major part of a decision to replace. Does your existing heating system produce enough heat to keep all areas of your commercial facility at a comfortable temperature? Is the system reliable enough to heat your indoor environment when you need it, even if outdoor temperatures plunge? If the answer to these questions is still "yes," the system should continue to provide good performance. Has the system begun to malfunction more frequently, or are breakdowns requiring repair becoming more common? Has the equipment developed any additional or unusual noises, or does it runs more often than usual?. These could be signs of reduced function that may require an upgrade.
  • System efficiency: The more efficient your heating system, the less it will cost to heat your facility. Older heating equipment is likely to have lower efficiency. For example, if your heating system is around 20 years old, the efficiency may be only 70 percent. If so, only 70 percent of the energy in the fuel the system burns will be turned into usable heat. The other 30 percent will be wasted. Over time, heating equipment can also lose efficiency. If you've noticed a significant spike in your heating costs that can't be traced to additional system usage, the equipment is probably losing efficiency. A significant reduction in heating system efficiency is a reliable indicator that replacement is needed.
  • System safety: Heating systems that burn fuel of any type will also produce carbon monoxide as a byproduct. This gas is extremely dangerous and exposure to it can cause serious health problems or even death. Systems using combustible fuel such as natural gas can also be dangerous enough to produce fires or explosions. If there are problems with components such as heat exchangers, with the fuel delivery system, or with other parts that create a hazard, you should replace the system immediately.