The Building Services Compliance Guide does not require that system filters are fitted to domestic heating systems and in an ideal world, there would be no need for filters if your heating system is properly cleaned, protected and maintained. So why have they become so popular with plumbers and heating installers? ...
As we’ve stated previously, keeping your system clean by adding inhibitor is absolutely vital in keeping corrosion (that occurs naturally within your rads and pipework) down to a minimum. Unfortunately, people do not always follow this advice and suffer the consequences as a result. In other situations when people do follow this advice, the concentration of inhibitor in your system can be reduced by leaks, or replacing radiators or boilers and not topping up the system.
Not using inhibitor can cause an internal problem, which most commonly manifests itself as radiator sludge - fine bits of metal that have broken off inside your system and collect at the bottom of radiators. This can cause hot and cold radiators and a narrowing of the pipework, both of which make your system work harder, putting extra strain on your components and increasing the amount of energy used to heat your home. This can cause higher heating bills and increases the likelihood of a system breakdown and a costly repair bill.
Because so few of us look after our heating systems properly, filters act as an excellent insurance policy, or safety net, against unseen corrosion and debris in circulating water. Many installers like them because their success is very easy demonstrate.
Filter technology has advanced greatly in recent years and there are now a vast range of shapes, sizes, capabilities and functionalities available. The technology is now there to filter out both magnetic and non-magnetic materials from the water.
Particularly popular are filters that use cyclone technology. The cyclone filters accelerate water within the filter and this separates the magnetic and non-magnetic debris from the water, ready to be flushed out. Many installers have been impressed with amount of matter that cyclone filters take out of the water and so these are increasingly becoming the installers go-to filter.
With such popularity, the question has arisen of whether filters can replace chemical inhibitors altogether? In short, the common consensus is a resounding ‘no’. While filters can perform an important function, they cannot be considered a viable alternative to inhibitor fluid.
High quality inhibitors provide a range of very important functions that system filters simply cannot. They can stop or get rid of limescale deposits, stubborn corrosion and soluble materials like aggressive chlorides, sulphates and flux residues. They also provide excellent protection to all heating system metals and components, keeping the system running smoothly and efficiently.
So the final conclusion is that filters have a very important role to play, but mainly as a back-up for a consistent cleaning routine and high quality chemical inhibitors, not as a replacement for them.
Article by Benjamin Clarke