Boiler installation cost guide

A boiler is a valuable household appliance that provides a home with hot water and heating via a system of pipes all year round. Depending on the type, a boiler can help homeowners considerably save on their utility bills. If you don't have a boiler in your home yet or if you want to replace your oil boiler with a more ecologically beneficial gas variety, here is a general idea of how much you may expect to pay for the equipment and work.

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Average boiler installation cost

Replacing or installing a boiler should not be regarded as a DIY project, especially when it comes to a gas boiler. An incorrect installation may cost a homeowner dearly, causing a fire or leading to other deplorable consequences. Professionals can calculate the exact size of a boiler and perform the removal and mounting work according to the accepted standards. The total boiler installation cost depends on a number of variables and may range from as little as $500 to as much as $10,500. Among the most important price-shaping factors are the type, size, and efficiency of the appliance, as well as the cost of labor, the existence of appropriate infrastructure, and necessity to obtain permits. On average, be prepared to spend from $3,400 to $7,500 for a new boiler to be installed. The most frequently cited cost is $5,400.

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Price-related questions

What different types of boilers exist and how much do they cost?

Boilers differ by their operation principle, heating agent, efficiency rating, and finally the brand.

Operation principle

Standard (regular or conventional) boilers. This type of boiler operates by raising the water temperature in the pipes that are housed inside a tank. The main benefit of a regular boiler is that the water heats up quickly and can be distributed to several taps at once with the same-intensity flow. Most commonly, this type is preferred in places with a large square footage. On average, be prepared to pay around $3,400.

System (sealed-system) boilers. The main appeal of a system boiler is that the water pressure in its tank is always maintained at a high level. That means that no matter how many people in a home open water taps at the same time, they can enjoy the same uninterrupted flow. As a downside, a certain (short) time may be required for the water to become hot. The elements of the boiler are fitted inside it. That considerably reduces the installation or removal time and therefore the fees you pay to professionals. The boiler can be used for floor heating or connected to a solar energy system. Normally installed in places with an average square footage, a system boiler may cost from $1,600 upwards.

Combination (combi) boilers. Unlike the other types of boilers, a combi features no water container and you can wash your hands with water that comes directly and instantly from the main pipes. Note, however, that if several taps have been opened at the same moment, the flow of water may wane a bit. This type enjoys the greatest popularity among those who live in places with a small square footage such as a studio. A combination boiler is in the low-end part of the price spectrum, costing in the vicinity of $1,250.

Heating agent

Gas boilers. A gas/liquid propane boiler is one of the most economical and ecologically friendly types.

Oil boilers. The price of an oil boiler can be very close to that of a gas boiler. However, servicing it properly (cleaning, repairing, and other tasks) renders an oil boiler more expensive in the end.

Other agents. Other popular boiler fuels include electricity and wood pellets. While it's hard to give an exact figure, on average you may purchase an appliance that runs on these heating agents for around $2,200.

Efficiency rating

Boilers are also not identical in their efficiency values, that is what amount of useful heat they can produce by consuming the same amount of energy. The principal metric that determines the efficiency of a boiler is annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). Appliances with AFUE closer to 100 may bring their owners 30% in savings on energy bills almost immediately. AFUE takes into account various real-world factors such as abrupt temperature fluctuations. To determine how heat efficient your boiler is, have a look at its AFUE. If it is, say, 89%, it means you waste 11 cents while using 89 cents to receive valuable heat in the form of hot water or steam. Thus, the greater is your boiler's AFUE, the heftier is its price. Also note that the following factors can negatively impact AFUE:

  • Damaged or insufficient insulation (ceilings, walls, windows, doors)
  • Ducts: regular temperature changes, especially in a cold climate, may cause ducts to break or leak, which will result in the heat loss (sometimes significant – up to 50 percent)

The quality and reliability of a boiler largely depends on its manufacturer. The market is awash with different brands and individual models, starting from affordable ones and ending with high-end appliances from leading companies. Among the best brands are such manufacturers as Bosch, Westinghouse, Crown, and Lochinvar. To give you an idea how much a high-quality boiler may cost, you can purchase a Bosch Greenstar Combi with 95.0% AFUE for $3,379.

How much does labor cost?

As already said, replacing or installing a boiler is a job to be entrusted to professionals. It's not enough just to put a boiler in its place and connect the pipes. A contractor also tests the boiler for any issues or leaks to prevent incidents. The cost of labor depends on your home location and the difficulty of the job. On average, expect to spend in the range $110 - $190 per hour.

How much does it cost to switch from oil to gas?

With the price of oil going up all the time, an oil boiler may become a heavy burden on a homeowner's budget. A boiler fueled by natural gas is a much more cost-efficient solution since gas is cheaper than oil. Also, a gas boiler itself is far less costly than an oil-fueled unit, with a whole price chasm between them: sometimes as much as $4,500 difference. That said, switching from gas to oil is not painless and entails considerable expenses. This is what needs to be considered:

  • Removing an oil unit may cost between $600 and $3,100, depending on where it's located (in the house or in the yard below the ground).
  • Connecting your gas line to the city gas line is required. That means you will pay to a contractor for making a channel in the ground for the pipe, as well as for mounting a meter. Expect to allocate from $1,100 to $1,600 to this part of the project.
  • Connecting the gas line from your house with the meter is required. Prepare to pay $160 - $1,100.
  • Installing a liner in your chimney to direct waste gas out of the house is a must. The average cost range is from $800 to $2,100.
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Information to check

Permits. Before you actually give the green light to your contractor to start the work, make sure you have obtained all the right permits. That may involve your local fire department and municipality. On average, permits may cost you between $60 and $310. This sum may include the following:

  • Expediting fees
  • Asbestos report card
  • Permit fees

Tax cut. In many cases, homeowners may be entitled to a tax reduction if they decide to install an efficient boiler with a minimum ecological footprint. Inquire with the service provider about it. Normally, you may expect a “gift” from $160 to $170.

Other frequently asked questions

How can I determine the right size of a boiler for my home?

Buying a boiler of the right size is one of the most important considerations. Purchasing a too powerful unit may considerably increase your utility bills. Purchasing a boiler with an insufficient heat output, on the other hand, will not give you exactly what you want to install a boiler for. We recommend entrusting the boiler size calculations to professionals, who use so called Manual J method. It takes every possible variable into account such as square footage, roof type, home location, insulation, and even what point of the compass the house faces. Expect to pay around $100.

How do I know I need to have my boiler replaced?

In many cases, replacing a boiler is not required. Simple repairs will be enough. So, unless you are firmly set on installing a new boiler instead of the old one, answer these questions to know if the replacement is really necessary:

  • How often do you inspect and clean your boiler? If the last time you had a close look at the unit was around 10 years ago, you could expect problems. We recommend installing a new one.
  • Is the water provided by the boiler immediately hot? If not, the boiler has clearly lost some of its power and needs to go.
  • Have you noticed that the figure in this month's energy bill is much greater than it was only two months ago? That may mean your boiler has started to consume too much fuel without giving the right amount of heat. Consider replacing it.
  • When did you install your boiler? The usual lifespan of a boiler is 15 years, although with proper maintenance it may last twice as long. So, if your boiler has reached the minimum service life limit, it should be replaced.

Bottom line

Installing a boiler in a home is a serious business that involves many important factors. Homeowners need to choose a unit of the right size and type, as well as decide what heating agent it should run on. They should also obtain the necessary permits and hire a reliable and experienced contractor. On average, be prepared to pay from $3,400 to $7,500 for a new boiler to be installed.

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