Keep an eye on your central heating.
Your central heating can be more vulnerable than you might think. Sure, it is a closed system (the water inside your radiators never changes), but that doesn’t stop problems from arising.
One of the biggest problems with central heating is sludge. Most radiators are made from iron or steel, both of which rust quite easily. The inside of your radiators rust just like the under-side of your car rusts, and given time, this can take its toll on your boiler or pumps. When systems are installed, your plumber should have installed an inhibitor to cut down oxidisation. This isn’t always the case though, and there are a few tricks to find out if you have a sludge problem without having to take out your radiators.
First of all, try turning your heating on. Do your radiators warm evenly, or do they have a cold spot in the lower centre? Sludge builds up in a pyramid shape and can leave the lower part of your radiator feeling cold, compared to the rest.
Secondly, Listen to your pipes. Do they make constant hissing or scratching noises? This could also be down to trapped air but is worth paying attention to regardless.
Thirdly, take a sample of water. Somewhere in your house you should have a bleed valve (usually on the furthest
radiator from the boiler. It is possible to buy little magnetic testers from a plumbing store. Holding the tester in the radiator water while you drain it can indicate if you have magnetic deposits
such as iron. The colour of the water may also look black or dark brown (another sign of potential problems).
Air in the system can lead to poor performance and in extreme circumstances, boiler failure. Get into the habit of bleeding your radiators once a month, using the valve located at the top of each Radiator panel. Note that eventually this may lead to a decrease in pressure in combi boilers, which will need re-pressurising using the filling loop.
These are what I believe to be the two most common problems within central heating systems, but knowing more about them and paying a little attention to your radiators every now and then can help prevent more serious conditions further down the line.
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