A quick guide to a central heating system power flush
Is power flushing a central heating system a good idea? I get asked about power flushing a lot, so here’s the lowdown on your most frequently asked power flush questions.
What is a power flush?
In an ideal world, you’d never have to deal with a clogged-up heating system. Your magnetic filter would capture every bit of gunk going, you’d use a corrosion inhibitor, and your annual boiler service would take place like clockwork.
Meanwhile, in the real world … life happens. You forgot, you moved house and the previous occupants forgo, your beloved cat ate your service reminder: whatever! You’ve now got pipes and radiators that have built up more particles than the Large Hadron Collidor.
A power flush uses chemicals to get rid of the gunk and get your whole system running more efficiently again.
How can I tell if my central heating system needs a power flush?
Uneven heat, a noisy system and possible radiator leaks are just three symptoms that your heating system may be “sludge central” and that you need a power flush to unblock it.
How does a power flush work?
A power flush is really a job for the pros. It uses a specialist power flush pump which – let’s face it – most people won’t have hanging around in the garage. The pump then sends some serious chemicals around the system. The chemicals sort out the sludge, make light of the limescale, and so their preventative piece-de-resistance as well.
Depending on the size of your heating system and just how much gunk is in there, allow half a day to a day for a power flush.
If parts of the system are badly blocked, though, it’s another story and you’ll need to weigh up the risks. In a poorly maintained system, extra pressure from chemicals being forcibly pumped around could make soldered joints spring a leak.
It may actually be cheaper to replace parts of the system or do some manual desludging by taking radiators off the wall and flushing through. For more on how to do this, check out my video on how to remove radiator sludge.
How much does a power flush cost?
Serious dosh – £400 would be on the cheaper end of the scale; and your bill could easily run into four figures, especially if you live in a radiator palace and the flush uncovers other problems.
My top tip: it’s far cheaper to keep a sans-sludge system in the first place.
Plumberparts introduce Norstrom
Proflush is a family run, industry leading, manufacturer of Powerflushing machines, testingequipment and water treatment, for the past 25 years we have been specialising in Powerflushing. Our Powerflushing machines are available in 4 formats, our entry level machine, the compact, is able to operate at temperatures up to 65°C, has a flow rate of 90 litres per minute and can flush up to 30 radiators over 3 storeys.
Our standard professional machine is capable of a flow rate of 150 litres per minute which can flush up to 40 radiators over 3 storeys, can operate up to 85°C, has a reverse flow and double dump feature and comes with a 3-year warranty. Our professional Thermal has the same features as the standard but also includes an integrated thermal element which can heat 50 Litres in around 30 minutes. Our Proflush Magmaster again has the same features as our standard professional machine but also includes our dual magnetic filtration kit built in to the machine to help reduce the time required on site. We are the only company on the market to offer a machine with both an integrated magnetic filtration kit & a thermal heater
Our water treatment chemicals, inhibitor (Long Life 100), our standard cleaner (Long Life 400) and our Powerflushing cleaner (Long Life 410) all come in powdered format, removing the need for single use plastic bottles, and will treat a standard 100 litre system. The cleaners will react and work straight away in cold water so no need to wait for the system to heat up.
What is Powerflushing?
Powerflushing is a cleaning process designed to restore the life of a boiler or the pipework of an existing system before a new boiler is installed. Powerflushing is proven to cut down heating bills by up to a staggering 40% whilst also optimising the life-time and efficiency of a boiler. Using a Powerflushing machine allows you to circulate and dump water & chemicals through the system whilst using a Diverter valve to reverse the flow and agitate the sludge & oxides in two separate directions. Our Powerflushing machines operate at up to 150 litres per minute, compared to a typical central heating pump which operates at around 13 litres per minute, they are also able to handle temperatures up to 85°C allowing the system to be fully heated if required. A Powerflushing machine with the combination of water treatment chemicals dislodges the sludge that forms within the system pipework over time due to corrosion, this results in what call Magnetite & oxides which over time will destroy your boiler.
How does it work?
Powerflushing works by combining a couple of processes. A machine, with a powerful pump, will be connected to your system, the machines have the added benefit of incorporating a diverter valve which allows the water to be sent in to the system in two separate directions to dislodge blockages and aid the cleaning of the system. A chemical cleaner will then be added to the system water, the chemical is designed to break down the large pieces of sludge and hold them in solution while the powerflushing machine forces water around the heating circuit. This process can take anywhere between 4 – 8 hours depending upon system size and the state of the system.
The addition of a Powerflushing magnetic filter can help to reduce powerflushing time as the contaminants held in solution are removed by the filter and not continually recycled through the system. This means that the engineer doesn’t have to dump the dirty water as often, saving time and water (approx. 300 litres).
Powerflushing machines work by increasing the flow rate of water through the system, up to 150 litres per minute on the Proflush machines, and with the benefit of having a diverter valve on the machine, which can circulate the water in either direction in the system, helps to lift the debris from inside the radiators and pipework working along with the chemical cleaners. This helps to shift the debris out of the troublesome areas in the system, compared to just using chemicals and or a magnetic filter, which relies upon the small pump in the heating system circulating the water, at around 13 litres per minute, and debris in the system. This causes the debris to fall out of solution in low flow areas like the middle of radiators, which is one of the main areas of cold spots in heating system.
What benefits will my customer get from a Powerflush?
- Reduced fuel bills
- Longer life-time
- Warmer radiators
- Reduction in component failure
- Faster heat up times
Do I need a Powerflush? Identifying poor system quality/efficiency
Although Powerflushing is the best practice for cleaning new and existing systems, not all of them will require a full powerflush to be carried out, in some cases a chemical clean will be sufficient to remove light installation debris on new installs, and this is where our Long Life 400 cleaners & Long Life 100 Inhibitors work well when a Powerflush machine is not used. The usual tell-tale signs that a powerflush may be required are cold spots in the bottom/middle of the radiators, frequent venting of the radiators/system and increased boiler noise from scale/debris build up. Thermal imaging cameras are now available that connect directly to the installers smartphone and are able to show the customer just how dirty their system is. Thermal imaging cameras are a brilliant tool as they allow the customer to see the difference that has been made before and after the flush, meaning they are not just reliant on your word but can actually see the physical results in front of them.
Proflush also have water test analysis kits available to enable the engineer to perform on-site analysis of the water quality after flushing to ensure that the system is free from the main causes of corrosion – Iron, copper, chloride (flux and cleaner residue) as well as the PH level of the system.