Your boiler is integral to the smooth running of your home, providing hot water on demand and central heating when you need it. It’s often not until it stops working properly that you give a second thought to its health.
Sentinel has dedicated its 25 years in business to protecting central heating systems. We have developed of a comprehensive range of products to restore and maintain heating efficiency; for protecting new systems, restoring older systems and prolonging the life of expensive components such as the boiler. All major international boiler manufacturers recommend the use of Sentinel products in their boiler installation manuals.
Central Heating Corrosion
We all think of water as pretty innocuous stuff, but when the wrong conditions come together as they can inside a central heating system, corrosion can occur rapidly. The process of corrosion is a chemical reaction and is likely to occur when a metal surface is in contact with water. As with most chemical reactions, heating the water accelerates the process, making your central heating the perfect place for corrosion to thrive if it hasn’t been properly prepared and protected.
Whether your own research or a recommendation from your heating engineer has brought you to our site, we hope you’ll leave with a firm understanding of why water treatment is so important in keeping maintenance and running costs down.
Trouble with your heating system?
Check out our guide to common central heating problems.View guide
SYMPTOMS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Any of these symptoms can indicate an underlying problem within the system, so if you notice one or more, it may be wise to investigate further.
Are there cold spots? If so, are they at the top of the radiator or the bottom? Do you have to bleed the radiators often?
Does it come from the radiator, the boiler, or the system in general? What kind of noise is it – a hissing, banging or clunking?
Boiler Running Time
Do certain rooms seem to never get warm? Do you have to run the boiler for a long period of time to heat up the entire house?
WHAT TO DO NEXT
If you think that your central heating could use some attention, the next step is to contact your heating engineer, who can conduct a more thorough investigation into the state of the system. Explain to them that you think the system may be inefficient or failing to heat the home properly. As with all trades, prices can vary, so it’s advisable to get several quotes and cross-check them.
Be sure to specify when asking for quotes that you would like quality water treatment products such as those provided by Sentinel to be used in your system. As energy prices rise and central heating efficiency becomes more important, an increasing number of brands are releasing cheap central heating treatment chemicals. Be highly wary, as these imitations can be up to 97% water.
Once you have a handful of quotes and you’ve agreed to the work, speak to your chosen engineer about annual servicing to keep the boiler healthy.
What Causes These Problems?
We fully appreciate how odd it sounds when your heating engineer tells you that your shiny new central heating system needs to be cleaned. You’ve just watched him install new pipework, new radiators and a new boiler, then fill it with clean water.How could the system possibly be considered dirty?
We all think of water as pretty innocuous stuff, but when the wrong conditions come together as they can inside a central heating system, corrosion can occur rapidly. Also referred to as magnetite, sludge is the substance created when corrosion occurs. Sludge amasses over time in older systems, often inside the radiators, preventing the system from working properly and sometimes causing complete system breakdown.
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A common occurrence in hard water areas, limescale builds up on surfaces inside the central heating system which are in contact with heated water. This is a problem for a few reasons. The first is that it impairs the efficiency of heat transfer, meaning that a boiler has to work harder to heat the water in the system. The second is that it causes a noisy system. The third issue occurs when hard limescale flakes off from a surface and blocks a pipe, pump or valve.
The process of corrosion is a chemical reaction and is likely to occur when a metal surface is in contact with water. As with most chemical reactions, heating the water accelerates the process, making your central heating the perfect place for corrosion to thrive if it hasn’t been properly prepared and protected.
The problems with new systems often occur for three reasons: flux, oils and grease, and installation debris.
Here’s a breakdown of each:
Flux is used when joining pipework during installation of a new system. Occasionally plumbers will apply too much, and the excess is washed away into the system. Since flux is a corrosive material, it increases the rate of corrosion inside your new central heating system.
Oils & Grease
Newly manufactured components are often treated lightly with greases or oils to protect them prior to fitting. These greases, if not removed from the system, can combine with installation debris to form a sticky, gritty substance which can damage valves and pumps.
Depending on the situation, installation debris can vary in terms of composition. For example, it may be shards of copper from pipe-cutting which end up in the system, or if building work has taken place around the same time as the heating installation, dust and sand and other site debris may have worked its way into the system.
Did you know?
An annual boiler service is required by law for all rented properties in the UK, and the landlord is responsible for arranging these check-ups. Whilst no such regulations exist for privately-owned domestic properties, having someone check your boiler every 12 months is a good guideline to follow for a number of reasons:
Safety - good maintenance of gas appliances is essential to minimising the risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Carbon monoxide is impossible to detect and if your boiler is leaking CO, it could cause poisoning. According to Gas Safe Register, 4000 households were affected by Carbon Monoxide in 2012.
Efficiency - regular tune ups can keep your boiler running at its most efficient, keeping the house warm and the energy bills lower.
Cost - in addition to the energy bills savings made by running a more efficient system, regular check-ups can prolong the life of the boiler: much cheaper and less stressful than having to replace it unexpectedly.