Power Flushing, Jet Flushing, Hard Flushing or just plain Powerflushing is something almost every heating engineer has done at least once and probably many times over the last few years and wether you like it or not, it is here to stay and is fast becoming an important part of an engineers arsenal. Love it or hate it there are easy steps that you can take to make the whole job quicker and easier.
First I would like to pass on a few quotes I have heard over the years:
- Powerflushing is only need on old systems. No.
- Powerflushing a new system will clean flux, solder and contaminations which will extend the life of a new system.
- Powerflushing is easy right? Yes and no.
- With a bit of knowledge you may be able to get a better result in less time.
- Powerflushing can sort an under-performing installation? Yes and no.
- It can help with many problems but sometimes the system might just need balancing.
- Powerflushing eliminates system/boiler noise. Yes and no.
- If the noise is due to scale or system debris then yes but sometimes balancing the system, adjusting the bypass etc may reduce the noise.
- I have to powerflush before replacing an old boiler but I can’t do it properly as I loose a whole day. Not necessarily.
- A few tricks and tips can dramatically reduce the time AND improve the end result
- Its easy, I Just plug in my trusty old machine, add a bottle of system cleaner, leave it to push the chemicals round the system while I get on with something else right? WRONG!
If you recognise any of the statement above perhaps I can help you save time, effort, money and recalls as there is a right way and a wrong way to powerflush.
Who am I to tell you how to Powerflush?
Before I start let me make it clear I am not a powerflush expert but in order to sell the products I have to know a bit of background and I have received a lot of feedback from my customers and staff so with this article I will share a few tips and trick and maybe give you something to think about before you do your next job. However I can’t stress enough how important the correct training is when learning about powerflushing. Just like any other activity you might do during your working day, getting some professional advice in advance will make your job much easier and profitable!
OK a bit of instruction helps but from who?
All the powerflush manufacturers (and some gas training centres) offer courses in Powerlushing techniques but according to our customers over the years one of the best courses is offered by Kamco (who also make one the best ranges of machines, accessories and chemicals) but if you have a preference or are dictated by distance or available days any training is better that none.
So here is my top 4 list of tips for sucessfull Powerflushing:
1) Start with a quality, correctly sized machine.
Today there is a vast range of machines available on the market but (again according to our customers) the best are made by Kamco, especially (for domestic and light commercial use) their CF30 or CF90 machines. The CF90 is our top selling product as it easily handles 99% of domestic jobs. If you work mainly on flats, terrace or smaller detached and semi-detached properties then the CF30 might be a more cost effect solution. The feedback from the engineers who have used either units are that their build quality and performance is far beyond that of any of the competitors products that they have tried and swear by the long life, excellent build quality and ease of use.
Whatever make you decide on just make sure it is big enough for the job and designed for the job as it is not only the chemicals that clear the system debris but the power (not pressure) of the water flow that helps release the stubborn debris. A descaling machine is just that and is not suitable for powerflushing.
2) Consider using an accessory which can help with clearing out the sludge.
Although you can just flush the loose matter out of the system and into the drain there are number of tools that can make the powerflush more effective and reduce the overall time (after all time is money). One recently released accessory works on the same principle as magnetic system filters such as the Fernox TF1, Magnaclean or Sentinel system filter. The Kamco combimag is a large magnetic filter which when used during the powerflush will collect the sludge using its rare earth magnet and allows you to dispose of the sludge during the flush without draining the chemicals or waiting until the end. It is housed in a clear perspex body so you can see when it needs cleaning and also helps by allowing the customer to see the result of your hard work (and their money).
For stubborn radiator cold spots a radhammer can be used. This simply attaches to your hammer drill and by agitating the surface of the radiator it will help shift the stubborn blockages.
There are a number of other tools you can add to your arsenal such as heating elements you can attach to your powerflush machine if you cannot run the existing boiler or pump head adaptors that enable you to connect the powerlush machine to the existing pump body.
3) Use the correct chemicals with the correct dosage.
Not all flushing chemicals are made equal and sometimes the market leaders may not have the best products for the job. If you have only ever used the ubiquitous Fernox range perhaps you should try something different such as those offered by Sentinel or Kamco. We have noticed over the past few years that customers who have tried a few different brands have settled on those that work best with their methods. Don’t be afraid to try some alternative products and manufacturers as one brand may work better in some or even most situations then you current standard.
There are also different chemicals that specifically target different problems. Getting the right product for the job will save time and recalls.
After powerflushing it is vital that the system is flushed of cleaning chemicals. This might be pain if you have a large system and have to flush gallons of water through 2 or 3 times even after the flow is clean but there are now products (such as Kamco’s neutralising crystals)that will ensure that any chemicals left after the flushing are neutralised and therefor do not harm the system or reduce the effectiveness of the final dose of system protection chemicals.
It is also worth noting that on new systems flushing with a quality pre-commission cleanser will remove the contaminants left on new pipe and fittings and any flux residue etc.
4) Think about fitting a system filter.
An optional “belt and braces” final step is to fit a system filter to catch any remaining debris. These are very effective when you are dealing with particularly stubborn, old or problematic systems and are a requirement for some manufacturers but in reality in most cases if the powerflush has been carried out properly then they can be a highly recommended option rather than an absolute requirement.
Thats the top 4 but there is much more that you can learn from the manufacturers own sites and training days including water quality testing and a bit of the science behind powerflushing and how to get it right.
To sum up..
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article the basics are straightforward and widely known, if not always followed, by most. But with just one days training (offered free by Kamco if you have one of their machines) and perhaps a new machine and accessory you will be able to improve the efficiency of your powerlushing. Good for you, good for your customers and ultimately good for your health (bank balance).
One last note .. You might see BS 7593:2006 quoted in manuals and literature. This is the British Standard Code of Practice which details when systems should be flushed and/or treated but does not expand the why and how. Training is the only way to get reliable ansers to these questions.
For a full list of our range of water treatment tools, accessories and chemicals click here.
Paul and The GasBoilerParts Team.