Heating systems are fairly complex beasts, and sadly in the UK they need to be used pretty much constantly during the winter months. Like any piece of machinery that is constantly in use, heating systems require a certain amount of maintenance to maintain continual efficiency.
One problem that tends to plague heating systems is the build up of iron oxide, colloquially known as “sludge”. As the name suggests, this “sludge” is a gungey, unpleasant gloop that starts to accumulate in all heating systems after a few years. It’s a perfectly normal occurrence, and isn’t a symptom of a deeper problem in the system, but unfortunately it can cause deeper problems if left unchecked.
Sludge accumulation is fairly benign initially, but as it builds up it causes more and more problems. The first thing that people usually notice is their heating system is warming up more slowly than before. After a year or so, they then start to notice that a few of their radiators have uneven heat, and a few of them might not be warming up at all. Then they realise their boiler is regularly cutting out. This is usually the point where people will get in touch with a heating engineer.
However, what people don’t realise is that all throughout this process, from the very beginning, this sludge is costing them money. If their system is working incorrectly, it also means that it’s working inefficiently. They have to burn more fuel to maintain a comfortable temperature in their home, and this will be reflected in their heating bill. It’s also not great for the environment.
The best thing to do is get in touch with a trusted Brighton plumber as soon as you notice that your heating system is working inefficiently. Lots of people try to delay things as long as possible, but the longer you delay the more money it will cost you, and in the meantime you’ll be forced to live with a heating system that isn’t up to scratch.
In the majority of cases, the best solution for a sludge build up is a power flush. A power flush is exactly what it sounds like: water is powerfully flushed around your central heating system, collecting up iron oxide sludge and expelling it from the system.
The process is reasonably simple, but it takes around a day to get the job done properly. The first step is to remove one of the radiators from the wall. This gives the flushed out water a substantial exit point from the system. Usually this will be done in a room with a tiled floor as an extra precaution against iron oxide stains on a carpet, but any reputable Brighton plumber will take huge steps to ensure that carpets are protected if this isn’t possible.
The water that is introduced into the system will be treated with a special sludge removing chemical. The exact composition of this chemical varies depending on the type of central heating system being worked on, but in most cases it will involve some kind of acid. The acid will break down the accumulation of iron oxide sludge, helping it to be easily flushed out of the system.
In order to ensure that the power flush manages to shift all sludge build up, even in the most remote corners of the system, a special machine is used to vibrate the radiators at a high frequency as the liquid is being pushed through. This makes sure that the power flush doesn’t miss anything.
After the initial power flush has been completed, the system will be flushed again, this time with additional chemicals that inhibit the formation of iron oxide sludge. This helps ensure that your central heating system will keep working at maximum efficiency for the foreseeable future.
In the vast majority of cases, this will be enough work to make sure that the central heating system is working correctly. However there may be some systems where extra work is needed. Certain types of central heating systems, due to age or poor design, are particularly prone to this problem. In these situations we can help to prevent the problem again by replacing valves or fitting a system called a “Magnaclean” which continually collects iron oxide deposits using a magnetic system, stopping them from getting into the boiler where they can do damage.
It’s also worth being aware that iron oxide sludge is a result of corrosion. Central heating systems are built to withstand many, many years of corrosion without damaging the structural integrity of the system, but if a system has been run for decades without any kind of rust inhibitor being present in the water then it’s possible that it could damage pipe work to the point that it becomes leaky.
In most situations this won’t be an issue at all, it’s a very rare occurrence, but if you have a very old central heating system that hasn’t had a plumber look over it for a long time then you should be aware that problems could arise. A power flush can stop the issue becoming worse, but it can’t undo severe corrosion or decay. In these situations certain elements of the system may need to be replaced.
No matter the situation, our team of specialist Brighton plumbers will be able to advise you on the best course of action. We’ve got a huge number of central heating specialists on our team, and many of them have specific expertise in dealing with power flushes. Whether it’s a simple power flush or a more complex situation involving an older, neglected system then you can trust us to be the best Brighton plumbers for the job. It doesn’t matter how bad the problem is, you can trust us to achieve a great outcome.
If you’ve been noticing issues with your central heating system and it sounds like a power flush might help, get in touch with us today for an incredibly competitive, free, no-obligation quote.