Most of the time, the heating systems in our home go about their job without any problems, requiring only regular maintenance to keep things working properly. But over the course of time, there can be a silent, unseen problem building up within the heating system that can lead to real problems – corrosion. So, what is it and when should you use a corrosion inhibitor to deal with it?
What is corrosion?
Corrosion is a natural process that takes place in a variety of different situations. In the case of boilers and heating systems, corrosion is due to the water interacting with the metal of boilers, pipes and radiators. In most cases, the basic corrosion that takes place is due to the reaction of metal with oxygen in the water but there are other chemical components that can also have an effect.
Corrosion begins often as soon as a heating system is installed because the water immediately starts to react with the steel inside the radiators and pipes. The result of corrosion is called sludge – a mud like, black substance that is created by the process and is the real cause of problems.
How corrosion affects heating systems
Once this sludge has been created by corrosion, it can affect different components of the system and even lead to a complete breakdown. It can be carried with the water in the system and damage the boiler as well as the radiators, leading to pin holing and leaks. It can damage the pump that propels the water around the system and interferes with thermostatic radiator valves. Over time, it can even block pipework or the hot water heat exchanger on a combi boiler.
The good news is that while corrosion is a natural process, you can take steps to protect your system with a product called a corrosion inhibitor.
How inhibitors can prevent corrosion
Corrosion inhibitors come in three main types to deal with different types of corrosion – anodic, cathodic and mixed. There are several companies producing corrosion inhibitors for the home heating market in the UK so it can be relatively easy to find the right one without needing to be a corrosion expert.
Most products come in a single-use bottle that is adequate to cover a system containing no more than eight radiators. You may need to find out if you have an open vented or a sealed heating system before you can use the product to determine where the product needs to be added. The system will need to be partially drained to allow the fresh water to cycle in and carry the inhibitor with it throughout the system.
Alternatively, you could install a magnetic filter to your boiler which will prevent blockages and minimise the risk of future issues with your boiler.
Get expert help
Adding corrosion inhibitors can be a slightly tricky job if you don’t know much about your heating system and have never reduced water levels in it before. If you are in the Bristol area, DHS offer boiler servicing and repairs and can undertake the process for you – using the right product, draining the system and getting everything working afterwards to protect your heating system and having it last the longest time. If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch with one of our Bristol heating engineers.