OFTEC has supplied some basic Gas and Oil safety guidelines to help protect students in their search for a rented property.
A Powerflush is a cleansing process which aims to remove deposits of sludge, rust and any other debris from your central heating system.
These contaminants, if left, can seriously affect the efficiency of a heating system and, in severe cases, a powerflush could be the only option available. Over time the water in your pipes, boiler and radiators deposits unwanted byproducts like rust. This rust (plus other dirt and debris) becomes an unpleasant, mud-like substance that professionals affectionately refer to as ‘sludge’.
Sludge in your heating system can cause to blockages and corrosion which will lead to both inefficiency and / or breakdown. In extreme cases it can be so damaging that a complete boiler replacement is needed.
When do you need a Powerflush?
If you carry out regular servicing and maintenance (professional servicing is recommended annually) then a preventative Powerflush should only be necessary every 5-6 years to clear debris and prevent significant blockages from taking hold.
However, this will vary depending on the system you have. For example, some boilers use copper heat exchangers rather than stainless steel which will corrode quicker.
IMPORTANT: If you are planning to replace your boiler it’s important that the engineer performs a Powerflush before the installation. Otherwise, you risk contaminating the new boiler with damaging sludge and debris that’s hanging around in the old pipework.
Get quote for a poweflush from Abbey Boilers here.
Signs you need a Powerflush
There are signs to look out for that suggest that all is not well in your central heating system.
- Cold areas on radiators e.g. at the bottom
- Excessive noise from the boiler or the heating system pump
- Discoloured water when you bleed the radiators
- Heating is slow to warm up
- Cloudy tap water (limescale in system)
- Some radiators struggle to heat up as well as others
- Radiators cold but pipes are hot
- Boiler regularly shuts down and needs restarting
- No water escapes when you bleed a radiator
- Noisy radiators and or / boiler
- Small leaks in radiators.
If any of these problems sound familiar to you, it’s time to contact a professional engineer. While a Powerflush may be all that is required to get your heating back on track, unfortunately, it is not always that simple. A system may be so damaged that it is actually cheaper to replace rather than repair. If that’s the case you will need to consult with at least two professionals to make sure you’re getting the right solution at the best price.
What are the benefits of a Powerflush?
It’s not all doom and gloom; there are lots of positive reasons to get a Powerflush carried out too.
- Radiators will heat up quicker
- Radiators will get hotter
- Quieter radiators / boiler
- More energy efficient system = cheaper energy bills
- Higher hot water temperatures
- More reliable i.e. less chance of breakdown
- Increase the life of your heating system.
How does a Powerflush work?
An engineer will connect a pump to your central heating system. If it’s a Combi it will be connected at the pump head but if it’s a system boiler it will be connected at the circulation pump. This pump will push special chemicals through the pipes, boiler and radiators.
This includes a chemical that will remove sludge and rust, a descaler to remove limescale and corrosion inhibitor to help prevent future rust from forming. The engineer will collect and dispose of any contaminated water, debris or particles that they remove from the system.
The engineer may also use special tools on the exterior of the radiator to dislodge stubborn blockages. They should be able to measure the temperature of your radiators before they have started work and then show you the improvement after the Powerflush.
The whole process can last anything from 6 – 10 hours depending on the number of radiators in your home, the age of the system and the severity of the sludge in the system. The engineer may find more problems than originally anticipated such as needing new parts to replace those that have been damaged beyond repair. Most Powerflush jobs can be completed in one day but some of the more severe cases may require longer.
A qualified engineer will be able to perform repairs, replacements and carry out a Powerflush.
Who should carry out a Powerflush?
Not all companies will perform a Powerflush to the same standard. There are a range of chemicals and equipment on the market and, as with all industries, there are providers with varying levels of expertise and attention to detail. Always check independent review sites and request customer recommendations. We recommend sourcing at least two quotes from professionals so you can compare costs.
Boiler Guide has a network of 5,000 reputable engineers across the UK and can provide you with up to 3 free of charge, no obligation, competitive quotes.
Can you perform a Powerflush without a professional?
Put simply, not really.
While there are Powerflushing kits for hire and instructional videos available on the internet, it’s a risky and complicated job. A professional will make a Powerflush look easy, clean and safe but the reality is it’s a job that has the potential to get very messy. Specialist chemicals and equipment should only be handled by those trained to do so.
It’s also possible that carrying out the work on your heating system by yourself may invalidate any manufacturer’s warranty you have. A professional engineer will provide you with a certificate to prove that the Powerflush has been carried out. This is crucial if you need to evidence to a manufacturer or insurance provider that you have had all work carried out by a professional. Get quotes.
Finally, if the work is completed incorrectly it could cause more damage than you had to begin with.
NOTE: Installing a magnetic filter will not deliver the same benefits as a Powerflush procedure, but it can protect a system (that is still working well) from future sludge blockages.
How much will a Powerflush cost?
There are lots of factors that will affect the price of a Powerflush such as size and complexity of the heating system, not to mention any incidental troubleshooting that crops up. A Powerflush can cost anything between £300 to £1000+ but will also vary from engineer to engineer. Sometimes there will be additional costs like extra descaler chemicals or replacing the TRVs.
It is important that your central heating system is as efficient as it can be at all times and, although a Powerflush can be an expensive process, it can also save a lot of money over time in reduced heating bills.
Is a Powerflush always the solution?
In some particularly severe cases you may find it is actually more cost effective to replace the system than carry out a Powerflush. A Powerflush will not fix broken parts. If a blockage has caused a part to break that will add time and cost to the job to get the system back to optimum performance. A professional will be able to advise you if this is the case.
Households could be missing out on significant fuel bill savings
Apr 4 2018 3:15 PM
With the warm weather hopefully on its way, households are being urged to ‘spring clean’ their heating system to avoid missing out on significant savings.
The recent ‘Beast from the East’ double storm emphasised the importance of keeping your heating system in tip top shape. Now the weather has started to settle down, it’s a good time to check everything is working efficiently to ensure you make the most of the savings on your fuel bills during the warmer months.
In response OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, has issued a spring cleaning checklist to help people cut energy costs over the warmer months:
- Adjust your heating timers. Check the heating is coming on at the correct time, especially if you changed the ‘On/Off’ times to heat your home for longer during the cold weather.
- Turn off individual radiators. Ensure you aren’t wasting money heating rooms you aren’t using. Also check the radiator temperatures in your main rooms if these were set higher during the cold weather.
- Make sure you have enough heating oil. You may have used more oil than usual during the prolonged cold snap. Check how much you have left and top up early to avoid any emergency deliveries. We recommend you use an FPS fuel supplier.
- Have your boiler serviced. The sub-zero temperatures this winter mean that your boiler and heating system will have been working very hard. Have the system checked over by a GasSafe (for mains gas) or OFTEC (for oil) registered technician who will ensure it is working correctly and to maximum efficiency. Abbey Boilers do LPG, Gas and Oil annual services
Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC, said: “During the unusually cold weather many households will have ramped up the use of their heating systems and made significant adjustments to the controls to keep warm, especially if they spent more time at home due to the snow.
“It’s easy to forget about these changes and you might not even notice issues such as your heating coming on whilst you are asleep or out of the house. However, this oversight could be costing you quite a bit of money which is why we are reminding households of the benefits of making a few quick checks as part of a usual spring clean.
“Boilers should also be serviced annually by a registered GasSafe or OFTEC technician to ensure maximum efficiency and realise cost savings. This is more important than ever following the extreme cold spell we have recently seen, where many of our registered technicians were called out to fix broken down boilers that hadn’t received a recent service. Having your boiler checked by a professional can identify potential issues before they happen and help avoid facing the same difficulties next winter.”
For more information and advice, visit www.oilsave.org.uk.
Below, is a brief guide to oil tanks. From price to size to oil regulations Abbey Boilers has the experience and the expertise to answer all your questions.
The tanks themselves:
Oil tanks can be installed inside, outside, or underground. Heating oil tanks are made of fabricated steel or plastic. Both of which can be integrally bunded (tank has two layers) or single skinned. Integrally bunded tanks are made of one tank inside another. The outside one housing the main tank's fittings and vents. This type of tank tends to offer better protection than the single skinned tanks because there is more room between the two layers to prevent oil leaking externally.
Most single skinned tanks need to have a bund built around them for protection. However, the necessity of this is dependent on where you live and the position of your tank. The bund is designed to hold up to 110% of your tank's contents in order to avoid spillages.
Checking your tank:
OFTEC (the Oil Firing Technical Association) recommend you look over your tank weekly, for any cracks, bulges or rust, which may allow fuel to leak and damage the surrounding environment.
Nonetheless, it is also important to get a qualified oil engineer to inspect your tank annually. Abbey Boilers inspects your oil tank as part of your annual service for just £72. It is also recommended to do this if you have recently moved into a new property with an oil tank.
Furthermore, steel tanks have an oil-resistant coating. this coating needs maintaining in order to prolong the life of the tank. It is best to check with the manufacturers to find out what kind of maintenance your tank needs besides its annual service.
Buying your oil tank:
It is essential for your safety and the safety of the wildlife and the environment that you get an oil tank that is OFTEC approved and fitted by an OFTEC registered engineer.
Abbey Boilers both supplies and fits oil tanks. Click here to contact us for more information about the type of tank you should have and where it should be placed in order to meet oil tank regulations.
Tanks vary in size depending on your requirements. They can hold between 1,000 to over 3,500 litres (although the larger tanks tend to be for commercial use). The prices of the tanks generally vary between £500 to £2000.
All about the oil:
The amount of oil you will need is hugely determined by different factors including:
- The size of your house
- How long and often you have your heating on
- How efficient your boiler is
The best way to ascertain how much oil you are using is to monitor the gauge on the tank over a period of time.
There is usually a gauge of some type on your heating oil tank. It could be on the tank, next to the tank or displayed remotely. However, sometimes this is not the case, you can buy a gauge for anything between £25 for a basic gauge, to over £80 for a digital remote one. It's crucial you monitor your oil levels so they do not get too low. Make sure you order before it becomes less than a quarter full, especially in winter. It's worth noting that you only need to fill your tank to around 80-90% of its capacity to avoid spillages.
Get in touch with Abbey Boilers to find out more about Oil tanks, Oil services and how to maintain your oil heating system.
The UK trade marketing manager for Sentinel, Daniel Cheung, claims, 'an up close and personal' approach is essential to maintaining a long-term, healthy, heating system.
Filthy water circulating in your heating system is both common and damaging, as corrosion is the number one cause of boiler breakdowns. Corrosion can cause other expensive problems with your boiler including; repairs, part replacement, complete boiler failure, increased energy consumption, ineffective heating as a result of radiator cold spots, loss of boiler warranty and higher heating bills.
Research from two leading boiler manufacturers found that in over 5000 homes 35% of heating systems under 5 years old and more than 50% of systems over 5 years old contain dirty circulating water. It is recommended for heating engineers to always consider dirty water when looking for solutions to boiler issues. For example, 'if the heat exchanger is clogged in a relatively new system' of it the pump shaft is broken it could be because of rust flakes in the water.
Considering a dirty system doesn't end with checking the quality of system water, but should also include a system cleanse. In order to do this effectively, the correct cleaning agents must be used and this is determined by the type of dirt present in the system. it is similar to how you wouldn't use shampoo to wash your clothes or washing up liquid to wash your toilet, different cleaning chemicals do different jobs.
there are three main types of cleaners:
- cleaners for new systems
- cleaners for heavily-fouled, older systems
- fast-acting cleaners for older, more lightly-fouled systems
The cleaners designed for new systems are made to remove installation debris, greases and oils from new components, and flux residues. In summary, contaminants that are particularly prevalent in new heating systems.
In comparison, cleaning agents for older systems are primarily focused on removing corrosion deposits.
In most cases, more severely corroded systems require more heavy duty products whereas, systems that require the removal of dirt can be cleaned with fast-acting, one-hour cleaner.
Experts claim, 'correct system cleaning is a prerequisite to effective protection and maintenance'. On the other hand, if there is fouled water circling a system, then any attempt to protect that system will be compromised.
In summary, it is important to ensure your system is clean in order to have it running with optimum health at maximum efficiency.
If you would like to book a power flush with Abbey Boilers, please click here.