How long an outdoor wood boiler will last is a very important question to ask before you purchase an outdoor wood boiler. The primary reason people turn to wood heat is to escape high heating bills and eliminate recurring monthly costs associated with propane, oil, electric and natural gas heat. The cost of these common energy sources is constantly fluctuating, meaning if you are on a budget it is hard to determine how large your utility bill will be. This is the reason many people ask how long an outdoor wood boiler will last: to determine whether they are really eliminating a recurring cost or just swapping it out for another.
How long your boiler will last is a very complex question and in truth there is no exact answer.
There are two things that affect how long your outdoor furnace will last. The first is the quality of the unit in question and the second is the circumstances or the environment around your boiler, how well it is maintained and etc.
Let's dig into the first factor. Outdoor wood stove quality as it relates to longevity. One of the biggest factors in boiler longevity lies in what type of steel was used when it was manufactured. Although some companies argue otherwise, most major names in the outdoor furnace industry, such as Central Boiler and Heatmaster acknowledge that 409 titanium enhanced stainless steel resists corrosion and tolerates wear and tear better than other steels. See Stainless Steel vs. Mild Steel. On an average, companies selling stainless steel outdoor stoves offer about twice the warranty offered by mild steel manufactures. Another key factor in how long an outdoor boiler will last is what kind of insulation it has. (Yes really!) Outdoor wood heater brands, such as Central Boiler, that are insulated with spray foam insulation can accumulate moisture between the insulation and the fire box causing premature corrosion. Another issue to watch for is horizontal heat exchange tubes. Outdoor stoves with horizontal heat exchange tubes can accumulate moisture along the bottom, once again causing premature corrosion and reducing the lifespan of your outside stove.
The second factor in how long your outdoor wood boiler will last is on you. Keeping your water neutralized with factory recommended water treatment can all but eliminate corrosion in stainless steel boilers and can slow the steady corrosion in mild steel, carbon steel or boiler plate outdoor furnaces. Sending in free yearly water samples will help you keep tabs on your water condition. Additionally there are many small things that you can do to keep your boiler running smoothly. When/if you shut down your outdoor wood furnace for the summer, clean the ashes it of the fire box, heat exchange tubes etc. and place a bucket or chimney cap over the chimney to keep the rain out. For a good resource for ideas and tips to get the most out of your outdoor hydronic heater we suggest you visit the Outdoor Wood Furnace Forum.
So although there is no single right answer for the question "How long will my outdoor wood furnace last?", It is not up to chance how long your outdoor wood boiler will last. If care is taken to purchase a well designed unit and if that outside wood stove is properly maintained, you should be able to count on a lifetime of low cost heat with no recurring expenditures.
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Pineview Woodstoves is northwest Wisconsin's #1 outdoor wood furnace dealer!