Contractors Get a Good Dunking in Hot Water at OESP Seminar
Experts discuss the importance of water treatment when it comes to hydronic system performance
NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. — A group of 32 installing contractors attended an Oil & Energy Service Professionals (OESP) Central Pennsylvania Chapter seminar, organized by Heath Allan, senior manager of Sid Harvey’s Lemoyne, Pennsylvania, branch.
Guest instructors Anthony Reikow, trainer for Bensalem, Pennsylvania-based B. J. Terroni Co., and Eric Grant, regional sales manager for Fernox, made a compelling case for “keeping it clean” when it comes to hydronic system performance and efficiency.
Reikow and Jonathan Dunkle, outside sales associate for distributed products, B. J. Terroni, opened the evening with a discussion about the importance of maintaining hydronic system water quality.
“Fortunately, all of Taco’s new 00e circulators have two innovative features that make them reliable, even when water quality isn’t the best: Taco’s BIO Barrier® protects the pump from system contaminants, especially black iron oxide that otherwise tends to collect around strong ECM [electronically commutated motors] magnets,” explained Reikow.
In addition, each circulator comes equipped with SureStart™, which automatically unblocks a locked rotor and purges air from the circulator.
“But, it’s always best to prevent problems; maintaining high-quality system fluids is one of the most important steps to ensure optimal system performance,” said Reikow. “So, with that, I’ll turn you over to an expert whose specialty is exactly that.”
Grant, who knows a thing or two about the importance of hydronic system water quality, jumped right into the evening’s key topic: Why is water treatment required?
“Most heating systems are composed of mixed metal components in contact with each other,” he said. “The way in which these metals can corrode is complex, but in water systems, where the water acts as a conductor, an electrical charge is readily transferred between metals, accelerating this corrosion rate and degradation of the heating system.”
Iron and aluminium components typically found within systems are most susceptible to degradation. Grant explained that corrosion can be concentrated locally to form a pit or crack, or it can extend across a wide area. Corrosion debris (sludge) usually deposits itself in radiator midsections, resulting in cold spots and poor heat distribution. System sludge can also find its way into the boiler, restricting flow rates and, in extreme cases, causing failure to key components, especially heat exchangers, he said.
“Carbonates and silicates can deposit as a scale in hot water conditions, blocking components, causing boiler noise, and severely reducing efficiency,” Grant added.
How to protect systems? According to Grant, Fernox experts based in England, where most heating systems are hydronic, formulated Fernox Protector F1 to add to system water to reduce the rate at which internal corrosion and lime scale formation takes place.
“F1 provides long-term protection of all metals found in these systems — ferrous metals, copper and copper alloys, and aluminium — and is compatible with all metals and materials commonly used in hydronic heating systems,” Grant said.
The existing water conditions influence corrosion. The interaction of the alkalinity, hardness, and pH of the water will determine whether corrosion or scale formation takes place.
Grant explained that acidic waters enhance corrosion. In contrast, water with a higher pH (basic water) lowers the solubility of calcium carbonate so that the calcium carbonate is more likely to precipitate out as scale. The pitting of aluminium is also more likely in higher pH conditions.
Alkalinity is a measure of how easily the pH of the water is altered. Water with a high alkalinity is more likely to be scale-forming, even at a relatively low pH. In contrast, low-alkalinity waters lack the buffering capacity to deal with acids, so they can easily become acidic and corrosive.
“Fernox Protector F1 is especially formulated to maintain neutral pH conditions [6 to 8] and also to protect against a sharp change in pH, which could promote a corrosion attack,” Grant said. “Oxygen dissolved in water — Anthony already explained that the new Taco circs’ SureStart function reduces the challenge of oxygen in system fluids — is most troublesome as a corrosion-producing substance. But I’m here to tell you that it’s much better to eliminate entrained air before it causes problems.”
Attendees learned that the Fernox formulation coats the internal metal surface’s organic and inorganic inhibitors, forming a layer of protection, thus preventing any corrosive attack by electrons.
“One thing: It’s imperative that heating systems — whether newly installed or systems already showing signs of corrosion — are cleaned properly prior to a dosage of corrosion inhibitor,” explained Grant.
“Is there a best way to do that, to make sure the cleaning is thorough?” asked Gary White, heating service manager for V. R. Boltz Plumbing and Heating in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
“Glad you asked,” replied Grant, who quickly referenced Fernox F3 and F5 cleaning solutions, sold to remove sludge, flux residues, lime scale, and installation debris from a system.
The cleaner lifts sludge from system radiators and components into a solution, where it’s then removed by flushing to drain, restoring system efficiency.”
White was also intrigued by Fernox’s TF1 Total Filter, a device that uses a magnetic assembly to remove contaminants from system water and contain them safely within the filter. It fits onto vertical and horizontal pipework, can be cleaned in minutes, and does not restrict flow in any way. Variations on the TF1’s design and function resulted in later generations with greater capability and durability, the TF1 Delta and TF1 Omega.
“For the sake of this meeting, I’ll just focus on the TF1 and the device’s in-line filtration,” Grant said. “The filter assemblies come with all valves and fittings, and when it’s in place, they continuously scour system fluid of debris and sludge.
“At [last] year’s AHR Expo , Fernox introduced the next-generation hydronic filter system: the nickel-plated, brass in-line TF1 Omega system filter,” he continued. “It fits onto vertical and horizontal pipework at a 45-degree orientation and is simple to install with quality valves or slip socket connection. It offers a higher-flow capacity, is smaller than the original TF1, and carries a 25-year warranty.”
Grant explained that the manufacturer’s TF1 Delta is a quality filter that is best suited to large-volume, low-temperature heating and cooling systems. Like the other filters, this one protects key components from magnetic and nonmagnetic debris, and it also removes trapped air from system water. Easy to install, service, and clean, the Delta can be used in-line or on a bypass. It uses three types of filtration to optimize system protection for light commercial systems.
“A number of our customers are now asking about the newest Taco products, and also the Fernox in-line filters,” said Allan, who is also president of OESP’s Central Pennsylvania chapter. “Response has led to another training session for installers with the same trainers — Anthony Reikow and Eric Grant. I’d say that’s a pretty significant sign of interest in the technology.”
Publication date: 1/28/2019