Chemical Treatment of Your Cast Iron Radiators

Published: 29th September 2010
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Cast iron radiators require appropriate chemical treatment for their general protection to give lifelong service without problems.

The main problem areas in cast iron radiators are firstly cold spots, these are caused by black sludge (magnetite) in the closed water system. They normally appear at the bottom of the radiator. Cold spots will eventually lead to blockages and poor circulation around the general heating system.

Secondly frequent venting, this will be noticed when the radiators are turned on for the first time in the cold season. The cast iron radiator will give a slight bad smell when ‘bleeding’ the air out. This is due to lime scale iron oxides. The problems this will cause increased emissions from the boiler, higher fuel bills and reduce efficiency of the boiler. Thirdly sticking valves are a problem caused again by lime scale causing lack of water flow into the radiator and the valve not working correctly.

All these problems are most likely caused by using no inhibitor or an inferior inhibitor within the system. Good quality chemical protectors are strongly advised, offering you long term protection against corrosion and keeping your heating system running clear of any lime scale damage.

Good quality chemical cleaners are used before the protector is diluted into the system. These cleaners will remove sludge, scaling and restore heating efficiency in existing systems. Cleaner will also reduce boiler noise and help to condition the system prior to using good quality chemical protectors.

Having your system power flushed before installing the inhibitor is recommended. This will help get rid of any excess debris and dirt in the system.

Never run your central heating system without an inhibitor. Most reputable central heating chemical companies will have a testing laboratory to test your water and advise the appropriate chemical treatment. Testing kits are sent out from the laboratory for you to fill with you central heating water and cost around £30. As a general rule of thumb if you do not wish to use a laboratory you can tell if you have enough inhibitor within your system by taking a jar with a screw lid and fill it with some water from the header tank. Put some steel or iron nails in the jar, and screw the lid tight. If the nails start to rust after 2 weeks, you do not have enough inhibitor in your system. The presence of a good quality inhibitor prevents the corrosion and rusting of your cast iron radiators from the inside and in so doing stops the production of gases that require bleeding. Inhibitor also acts as a lubricant for the pump, helping to increase its life.

Reputable suppliers of cast iron radiators such as Paladin Radiators have worked with Fernox and tested their radiators for compatibility with the chemicals required. It is advisable to take professional advice from your heating engineer or plumber before chemically treating your system and adhering to recommendations sent by cast iron radiator manufacturers for chemical treatments that are compatible.

With many years in the heating and plumbing industry Edward Hall has for some time now been writing on such subjects as the cast iron radiator, its history and benefits and imparting his vast knowledge on the subject.

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