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  • Hydronic system cleanliness

    As you all know, many components in a hydronic (water based) heating system are made out of steel or iron. As the water is circulated, it gives off it's oxygen through air purgers, or air seperators, and future corrossion issues are minimized in the heating system as long as very minimal make up water is added throughout the life of the heating system.

    But doing service calls/dealing with older systems, you always notice the water is "dirty," or "black." There is definate particulate in the water. With the fragility of some sensors located in boilers or other components, I always question this. For example - when you see a system that has a stainless steel boiler/heat exchanger, copper or plastic piping, brass or bronze, valves and components (e.g. air seperators, pressure relief valves, etc.), I have a hard time wondering why you wouldn't spend a little bit extra and put in a a potable tank instead of a non-potable expansion tank, as well as bronze or stainless steel pumps instead of cast iron versions. Yes the "little bit" part could be "a lot," but still...

    Also, no matter what, while the pex pipe we use for radiant floors technically does have an "oxygen barrier," it technically can still has some oxygen/air permeation through it.It has only met the standard for oxygen barriers, not a complete oxygen barrier. The only true oxygen barrier "plastic" pipe would be Kitec.

    I am not talking about putting water into the system that is distilled with no minerals as some components like low water cutt offs require minerals to sense water, but what is your opinion or experience on non ferrous versus ferrous metals in heating system and subsequent reliability?

    Also, do any of you use Dirt Seperators or strainers in your heating systems upstream of a boiler and how well do they work in your opinion?

  • #2
    Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

    Some of the local supply companies are no longer stocking the iron pumps and have all gone stainless. Whenever I install a new boiler with a stainless steel heat exchanger I ALWAYS install screen mesh trap.

    If I have time, I like to fill and fire the system with Boiler Colloid, drain down, clean the trap and refill. Some manufactures recommend a screen but most don't mention it in their instructions. They need to be cleaned and checked every season. Some fall apart if left alone too long

    Most heating systems here are almost a hundred years old so there is tons of crap floating around these pipes.

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    • #3
      Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

      Honestly, it has not been a significant problem. If the system is tight there should be no issues. Get a good air eliminator like a spirovent and that should take care ot it.
      sigpic

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      • #4
        Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

        i've installed cartridge type in-line filters before on heating systems.

        i can't say if it ever cleaned up the system water because after the first filter change it wasn't used anymore.

        Vince

        one time in churchill, manitoba i saw a hose coming out of a social housing apartment block. it was the dirty black water.

        i asked the guy that was working on the system what the problem was. he told me that they discovered the system was full of "black stinky" water and that they were flushing the sytem and replacing it with fresh clean water.

        all i could say to the guy was, "you want the black stinky water."

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        • #5
          Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

          We are using a spin down mesh dirt separator(clear sump)that are made for hi temp. we can watch how the system is doing after initial flush & treatment. We also are considering going with either s.s or bronze circs. But gauranteed my comp won't & he'll be cheaper, just means more time spent with owner or g.c to sell it. I use IBC S.S BOILER, & they recommend min req, a strainer in line. Gotta love all the new stuff.

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          • #6
            Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

            Isn't it ironic or maybe moronic that this is considered a hvac discussion.

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            • #7
              Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

              We used a detergent on the baseboard heating system in the last apartment building I worked on. Not sure what it was called. Wolseley sells it. I'll try to find out what it is.

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              • #8
                Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

                Originally posted by NJOY PLBG View Post
                Isn't it ironic or maybe moronic that this is considered a hvac discussion.
                The "H" in HVAC stands for heat. Any heat.
                sigpic

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                • #9
                  Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

                  Originally posted by NJOY PLBG View Post
                  Isn't it ironic or maybe moronic that this is considered a hvac discussion.
                  I always took the H in HVAC to mean heat pertaining to forced air.
                  West Trail Mechanical Ltd
                  Service. Commitment. Expertise.

                  www.westtrailmechanical.ca

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                  • #10
                    Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

                    That's because 2/3 of the country has no idea what hydronic heating is.
                    sigpic

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                    • #11
                      Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

                      Originally posted by NHMaster3015 View Post
                      That's because 2/3 of the country has no idea what hydronic heating is.
                      Maybe your country
                      West Trail Mechanical Ltd
                      Service. Commitment. Expertise.

                      www.westtrailmechanical.ca

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                      • #12
                        Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

                        Originally posted by bigPipe09 View Post
                        Maybe your country
                        Yep. South and West of the Mason Dixon line you don't see a whole lot of hydronic systems. Mostly gas fired FHA
                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

                          Originally posted by NJOY PLBG View Post
                          Isn't it ironic or maybe moronic that this is considered a hvac discussion.
                          You mean there is some other kind of heat besides hydronic???! I would never think of such a thing.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Hydronic system cleanliness

                            Originally posted by NHMaster3015 View Post
                            Honestly, it has not been a significant problem. If the system is tight there should be no issues. Get a good air eliminator like a spirovent and that should take care ot it.
                            I agree.
                            ...with the exception of flat plate heat exchangers which are prone to clogging the small passages.

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