Water treatment: treat it right first time

Published:  28 July, 2015

Sometimes it’s the small things that can make a big difference. Richard Harvey looks at how installers can get the most out of water treatment

Not only is water treatment part of current Building Regulations, it can make a big difference to how well a new or existing central heating system works.

Installers are often asked by homeowners how they can make their central heating systems more efficient and cut their energy bills. Water treatment is a great way to help householders to achieve this.

Cutting energy use

There’s little point in fitting a new boiler if the rest of the system is full of corrosion, limescale and sludge. Testing the water in the system during a new boiler installation and, if necessary, powerflushing to remove any build-up of contamination can help to extend the life of the new boiler, eliminate cold spots in the property and make the system more efficient.

Not only does cleaning a system reduce fuel usage, but there are other benefits too – circulation is improved and boiler noise is reduced. This initial cleaning will ensure that the upgraded system begins its life in tip top condition and functioning at optimum efficiency.

If you are installing a completely new system, then there are products on the market specifically designed to clean them. Homeowners might not understand why a new system needs cleaning, but explaining that the process removes installation debris, washes off manufacturing greases and eliminates corrosive flux residue, which will protect the boiler and make it last longer, should make them see the point! After cleaning, the use of a leave-in additive that is designed to inhibit corrosion and limescale is a great choice.

Extending boiler lifespan

If you’re carrying out an annual boiler service, again the first step should be to test system water quality. Cleaning dirty water in a heating system can increase efficiency by up to 15%, so it is very much worth doing.

Testing that the level of inhibitor additive is correct at every boiler service is doing the customer a big favour, as not only will the energy efficiency of the boiler be better maintained, but again the boiler’s lifespan will be extended. Poor system water quality is a major cause of boiler breakdown.

There are so many different types of water treatment additives on the market these days. Has the customer got a noisy boiler? There’s an additive for that. Has the system got a small leak? Guess what, there’s an additive for that.

The best thing is that many of these products are leave-in. You just add them to the system and leave them to get on with their work.

The central heating landscape is changing rapidly. The focus on energy efficiency, not just by consumers but also by government, has seen a growth in renewable energy solutions.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, the water treatment chemical manufacturers have been busily creating a range of products that help to protect and maintain renewable energy systems.

Today you can buy heat transfer fluids for solar thermal systems that protect the system from corrosion and offer frost protection down to -25°c. Systems employing ground and air source heat pumps or underfloor heating can all suffer from fungal or bacterial attack, which can lead to a number of problems. There are additives for all these scenarios, helping the installer to give their customers peace of mind.

Ongoing trust

Everyone knows that it’s much easier and cheaper to retain a customer than to find new ones. Making the most of water treatment has some major benefits for installers.

The first is that you are able to offer an additional service to customers, one that you can emphasise helps them to cut their energy bills and protects their boiler from breakdown. The second is that looking after a customer’s boiler well and being seen to be doing everything you can to help them to save money builds trust.

If your customers trust you then they are likely to want to stick with you and when that boiler does finally need replacing, it will be you that they will call.

The best form of marketing is personal recommendation. As any marketing manager will tell you, it’s difficult if not impossible to control word of mouth, especially in this day and age. With review websites and social media in daily use, if someone’s not happy with your service they will generally let a lot of people know about it!

If you have a group of happy customers who trust you to do right by them and their central heating systems, they will tell others and you will have a steady stream of their friends and family wanting to employ you.

People may perceive water treatment as a minor add-on, but it punches well above its weight in the results it delivers, for central heating system, homeowner and installer.

Richard Harvey is category director for heating and renewables at Plumb Center

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