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System contamination can spell bad news for light commercial heating systems, increasing the likelihood of breakdowns, limiting performance and reducing system efficiency. Rob Jacques, National Key Accounts and Technical Sales at Spirotech, explains more.
Inefficiency and malfunctioning can occur in all heating systems if air and dirt (magnetite) are not correctly or sufficiently removed from the system’s water. Both contaminants are catalysts for trouble and if these issues are not diagnosed and dealt with, the likelihood of problems, including system breakdown, increases.
Within larger light commercial systems, common problems are magnified when compared to those experienced in a domestic environment. What’s more, whilst modern heating systems are markedly improved in terms of design and efficiency compared to their older counterparts, they are much more sensitive to air and dirt contamination.
With so much emphasis placed on big ticket items like boilers, system water is too often not given enough consideration. System water quality still remains overlooked by many, despite the fact that a failure to properly care for system water means end-users are setting themselves up for a host of long-term problems and unnecessary costs.
Here are some of the most common system complaints to look out for, which suggest air and dirt could jeopardise the performance of a light commercial heating system.
Energy consumption: All of the components in today’s systems will likely have an ‘A’ or ‘B’ energy label at day-one of installation, but no matter how good the core system units are, the level of energy efficiency will rapidly decline if system water isn’t treated correctly and dirt and air aren’t appropriately removed.
System noise One of the telltale signs of a contaminated system is an audible increase in noise levels when the system is in operation. Air pockets will naturally occur if air is not constantly being removed through deaeration, which will cause bangs and clanging within radiators and pipework.
The presence of air gives rise to increased system dirt, too, which can accumulate in radiators or clog up the pump, which will generate unwelcome intrusive sounds. If these sounds become noticeable, action should be taken immediately to prevent problems persisting.
Excessive wear on parts With regular checks essential to maintaining a healthy heating system, you may notice that key components are deteriorating at a much faster rate than anticipated. If the boiler’s pump is contaminated with magnetite, it will work harder to try to achieve the same output, inevitably decreasing the product’s expected life span. This excessive wear on parts can often lead to larger issues such as breakdowns, which are both costly and time consuming to rectify.
Treating the presence of air and dirt in a light commercial heating system is similar to that of a domestic property. For the best results, it is important that an installer is specifying the right product for the job, and there are a number of factors to consider when choosing.
When sizing up a light commercial project, installers will need to keep in mind the heat output of the boiler, as this will help determine what type of product is suitable. The other key sizing factor to consider is pipework, as this is usually larger for light commercial projects.
Deaerators and dirt separators are all designed to work based on a certain flow rate, and this will dictate which size fitting an installer will need. If a deaerator or dirt separator is undersized, it will still work, however it will not perform at its optimum level and can lead to further inefficiencies.
The brass SpiroVent RV2 is available in connections up to 2in, which may cover some light commercial systems. For pipework larger than this, the steel version of the SpiroVent would be required.
For systems with multiple zones, a hydraulic separator may be required to ensure the circuits do not interfere with each other. A hydraulic separator such as the SpiroCross should be considered in systems where primary and secondary pumps are used; when primary and secondary flows are not equal; or when a constant primary flow is required. A well designed hydraulic separator will not only perform hydraulic balancing, but will also have both deaeration and dirt separation capabilities too.
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