There are few involved in the heating sector who seriously doubt the importance of water treatment or the peace of mind it can add to any heating system installation. Daniel Cheung looks at the key reasons for its increasing importance.
Water treatment has grown in importance as a vital component of any traditional wet heating system installation or replacement boiler project – and it’s recognised as such by Building Regulations and British Standards.
Boiler manufacturers recognise the urgent need to remove debris from the circulating water, especially in the current climate with the much longer warranties being offered on their boilers.
At Sentinel, we recommend a comprehensive but simple water treatment approach – Clean, Protect and Maintain – that will, if followed, ensure the best possible protection and enduring efficiency of any boiler.
Water treatment is also recognised as vital by all the leading boiler and heating system component manufacturers. All of whom now specify the requirement for quality water treatment in their installation instructions.
A clean heating system is almost by definition an efficient one and, whether you’re fitting a new boiler on a brand new system or an existing system, making sure the circulating water is clean and debris free is key to getting the best out of that boiler.
Whatever the perception out there may be, not all chemical cleaners are the same. High quality products have been developed and improved over the years in laboratories to offer a range of benefits to address all the issues you’ll come up against. It’s important to choose the right one for the job, one that will achieve a robust clean.
Water treatment isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Look for the right product for the job in hand. There are specific products to clean a brand new heating system that will address the debris issues associated with new installations and those up to six months old, including removing flux and other installation debris. Similarly, there are also bespoke products to use on older systems, which typically contain settled sludge that may be difficult to remove and need powerful, tried-and-tested chemicals to do the job.
Having cleaned the customer’s heating system to ensure that it’s delivering maximum energy efficiency, it’s important to protect it and keep it clean. This is where a quality inhibitor chemical product comes in. Choose one that offers total protection against scale and corrosion in all types of indirect central heating systems, including those containing aluminium. It’s best to select an inhibitor that offers separate protectors in the chemical solution for each of the metals commonly found in a heating system – steel, copper, brass and aluminium.
A quality inhibitor product will provide excellent protection, extending the life of the system, and ensuring maximum efficiency and minimum fuel usage. Once added, a quality inhibitor product should never need to be replaced unless the system is drained down or added to. It may need topping up after changing a heating system component or adding an additional radiator for example, so it’s worth checking the level of treatment with a recognised test kit.
A number of quality inhibitor products are now recommended by the Energy Savings Trust scheme. Products can also carry a BuildCert approved label, but this should be considered to be a starting point rather than a definitive level.
For a very small additional investment, it’s worth getting the highest quality protection for your customer’s heating system and getting the peace of mind you and your customer want.
Having cleaned and protected a heating system, it’s essential to maintain its level of protection. The system should be tested every time it is serviced and, if necessary, the level of inhibitor should be topped up to maintain its protection level. In addition, most new installations benefit from the additional protection of a system filter. It makes sense to install one to protect the boiler and other components by ensuring that any remaining circulating debris is trapped and removed from the system
Protecting against scale
In secondary hot water circuits, research points to limescale as one of the key factors that is contributing to increased emissions and increased fuel bills. In some hard water areas of the UK, a brand new boiler can see a 30% reduction in efficiency in just six weeks due to the build-up of limescale on the heat exchanger.
An increasingly popular option for preventing the adverse effects of hard water – required by Building Regulations for hard water supplies exceeding 200ppm – is the fitting of a physical water conditioner. Rather than removing the hard minerals and softening the water, they work by altering the physical properties of the minerals within the water, preventing the formation of scale.
For example, the SESI from Sentinel uses a zinc electrode and a natural electrolytic process to flush hard salts through the system rather than allowing them to settle and build up as limescale. Its environmentally friendly and cost-effective operation has been proven in tests over the last 20 years.
Electrolytic physical conditioners have the advantage of being able to protect an entire household’s pipe system from the formation of limescale encrustation – without the use of chemicals or salt and without the need for any electrical power supply. They fit in-line on the incoming main, providing whole house protection against limescale and are proven to work in numerous independent studies, including those undertaken by Cranfield University School of Water Sciences.