Energy efficiency in the home has made huge strides with the invention of the condensing boiler and we are now at a stage where people expect and demand reliability from their heating and hot water systems, right down to the smallest components.
Therefore, making the effort to keep your system clean is highly important in preventing unwanted breakdowns and prolonging the lifespan of the all the parts and components.
Just like your annual MOT for your car, a yearly inspection of your heating system can reap huge rewards in the long term. With particularly heavy usage during the winter months, it’s inevitable parts of your system will start to degrade and perform less efficiently, so scheduling in a heating engineer to come round once a year to take a look is well worth the investment. Nothing is worse than your boiler breaking down during a cold snap and you and your family having to endure freezing temperatures all because you didn’t have the foresight to get someone in to check everything over.
One of the important things that a heating engineer will do is check the levels of chemical inhibitor that is in your system and they will top it up if necessary. Water running through metal piping and components can undergo a chemical reaction which causes flakes of metal to break off and start flowing around your system.
Usually these pieces of corroded metal will settle somewhere in your system causing your boiler and water pump to work harder and therefore expending more energy to keep your house warm. Adding chemical inhibitor to your system helps to prevent this corrosion from taking place, leading to a much more clean and efficient heating system. So getting a heating engineer around once a year is worth it to avoid these costly issues.
Another procedure that your system may benefit from is power flushing. This is where a heating installer will pump chemicals all around your system in order to ‘flush out’ any corroded bits of metal and sludge that has built up in your system. If you are having a new boiler installed, then it is a legal requirement for your system to also be power flushed, as this brings the pipework up to the same clean standard as the new boiler, ensuring maximum energy efficiency.
Alternatively, for newer systems, a simple gravity flush may all that is required. This involves a chemical being added the system and allowed to be pumped around by the heat pump before being emptied. This is a less high-pressure and less time-consuming process than power flushing and may be suitable if you are already having annual system maintenance sessions.
A supplementary water treatment to assist with a clean system is the installation of water filters that can filter out both metallic and non-metallic materials that are present within the water. The presence of metallic material has been explained above but non-metallic sediment can build up in the system in hard water areas, whereby mineral deposits are made within your pipework, having been brought in natural via the water system.
Filters help to catch these metal fragments and mineral deposits and stop them from building up in your system and restricting water flow. Filters also need emptying and cleaning, so again, it’s an excellent reason to schedule in a maintenance appointment annually.
Installing filters, adding chemical inhibitors and having your boiler checked obviously incurs an upfront cost, but the benefits will be felt long term with the smooth running of your heating system and evidenced in lower heating bills throughout the year. Keeping on top of your heating system will help you financially and in keeping you and your family reliably warm when you need heat the most.
Article by Benjamin Clarke
• How keeping your heating system clean can save you money 9th Dec 2014
• The importance of annual heating system maintenance 7th Jul 2015
• Minimise damage to your heating system by installing a filter 11th Jun 2015