The dangers of skipping system cleaning and the benefits of powerflushing and protecting both ourselves and the homeowner's interest.

Powerflushing can be a hard sell. After all, it not only costs the customer money but the process also takes hours. Furthermore, the homeowner might have heard that power flushes cause leaks. However, as any professional installer, we know, system cleaning is a critical part of the water treatment process, and skipping it can be detrimental for the heating system, homeowner and installer. More importantly, system cleaning offers excellent immediate and long term benefits that far outweigh any initial cost, time or inconvenience to the homeowner, and is well worth the investment.

While it makes sense to include powerflushing as part of a new boiler installation package, the reality of a highly competitive market means that many installers offer the service as an optional extra. After all, there are many unscrupulous installers willing to forgo good water treatment practice in order to provide the cheapest quote - perhaps even telling the customer that is unnecessary to try and discredit professional installers. Of course, if powerflushing is optional, there is always a risk that the customer won't take it - and that can be very bad news for the installer.

How so? Well, if a heating system isn't cleaned before a new boiler is fitted, the circulating water will contain harmful contaminants. In older systems, the circulating water (unless properly cleaned, protected and regularly maintained with boiler manufacturer approved chemicals) will contain iron oxide sludge, installation residues and other debris. Even brand new heating systems must be cleaned before fitting a new boiler in order to remove installation debris, greases and flux residues.

Needless to say, all such contaminants are harmful to the boiler and heating system components, such as pumps and seals, causing corrosion, system blockages, cold spots in radiators, noise ('kettling' from limescale accumulation), leaks, and wear and tear on parts - for example, pumps will have to work harder in order to circulate dirty water. In addition, contaminated system water means that any subsequently dosed inhibitor may be prevented from working properly, so protection is greatly weakened. As a result, the heating system will experience reduced energy efficiency, poor performance, and most likely, premature repairs and breakdown.

Untreated system

In short, failure to perform system cleaning as part of a new boiler installation can lead to higher than expected heating bills, excessive system noise, or a refusal from the boiler manufacturer to honour the warranty in cases of breakdown or repair. What's more, it is likely that the installer will be held accountable, or at the very least find themselves dealing with unnecessary call backs, angry customers, fewer referrals and a tarnished reputation.

On the other hand, carrying out a thorough system clean benefits both the homeowner and the installer. For instance, cleaning a dirty heating system is estimated to save up to £124 annually. Assuming that a powerflush costs roughly double this price, this means that the service will pay for itself within just two years, after which the homeowner continues to save money.

In addition, a system clean will help to optimise the energy efficiency of the new boiler (Gastec says that the absence of correct water treatment can reduce system effectiveness by typically 15%), so household heating bills should be lower - another money-saving tick in the homeowner's box.

System cleaning is clearly advantageous all round, but how can this be communicated to homeowners, most of whom know so little, if anything, about system protection? By focusing on a few simple points around the importance and benefits of powerflushing, and talking to customers in a clear and professional way, we can successfully promote powerflushing. This may sound obvious, but a few installers take the time to do it, meaning those who do are likely to stand out head and shoulders above less astute competitors.

To help homeowners understand the importance of powerflushing, it is necessary to explain about contaminants, limescale deposits, corrosion, and debris in system water, but it is a good idea to keep it brief. Instead, focus on the symptoms of poor water treatment practice, since most homeowners, if not all, will have experience radiator cold spots, banging or hissing noises, and poor system performance at one time or another.

If you are concerned about the powerflush causing leaks, we will explain that leaks are usually caused by corrosion, which is a symptom of dirty system water, so failure to clean the system will only delay, rather than prevent, a leak. Of course, if the system is very old and appears to be in poor condition, it may be wise to inform you and perhaps provide an estimate for replacing radiators.

These are the aforementioned cost, efficiency and warranty benefits of powerflushing. A paragraph in the UK Building Services Compliance Guide to Part L on the requirement for system cleaning does highly recommend this action.

Powerflushing is a course of action to take if:

  • You are having a new boiler installed 
  • Experiencing very discomforting noises coming from an existing boiler when it is working its hardest. 
  • Radiators on an existing heating system are partially heating up 
  • A boilers heat exchanger becomes partially blocked or blocked

What Is Involved In Powerflushing?

Using our Powerflushing machine, it's a process of connecting the machine up to the customers heating system. Once that is complete, we add the cleaning agents into the machine whilst the heating system is still full of water. Then turning the machine on and open one radiator at a time, whilst we flush through all the debris and copper oxide in the heating system. All the debris collects in a magna cleanse filter and also can drop to the bottom of the machine, a majority of the time we operate this while keeping the boiler in operation, this way we get better results because at the same time the machine is working hot water is circulating the heating system breaking down the debris and copper oxide even more. Once all radiators and the heating system has been thoroughly flushed its then a process flushing the system through with fresh cold water, getting rid of the cleaning agent we use. Leaving a cleaning agent still active in the heating system will end up rotting through the pipes causing major problems. Last but not least would then be adding of a inhibitor, this will help to keep the heating system clean and maintain efficiency within the heating system.

Magna Clean Professional

Magna Clean Professional sets an industry standard for heating engineer when it comes to protecting and maintaining both new and existing heating systems. In an age of advanced and high efficiency gas boilers there has never been a greater need to safeguard what amounts to one of the most expensive investments in the modem home - the central heating system. We add this filter to all our new boiler installs unless we are requested not to lay home owner.

Regards Dave Terrell