Preventative maintenance for commercial and domestic systems

The most effective preventative maintenance for any commercial or domestic heating system is to prevent dirt and air from accumulating. Mark Mogey, Head of OEM Sales and ROI at Altecnic, explores some of the latest technology to help keep the heating system clean… 

Modern heating systems regardless of size are becoming more and more dependent upon clean, suitable water quality. Materials used in the construction of expensive components such as boilers, fan coils, heat pumps and cylinders mean that having a clean, filtered, or flushed supply is paramount to maintain the efficiency of the system.

Research from the Energy and Utilities Alliance suggests that 80 % of all central heating system issues are related directly or indirectly to sludge/debris in the system, so it makes sense to not only clean it thoroughly but to also take preventative action.

While many domestic and commercial heating systems will have some sort of dirt and air removal, the technology has moved on considerably in the last few years, so it is important to ensure that all systems are reaping the benefits. This can be addressed by taking a whole system approach to preventative maintenance whilst conducting the annual servicing and safety check of the boiler.

Potential issues 

Air and dirt are serious issues in a heating system and need to be removed. Air will cause noise in the pipes, low flow rates or even total circulation blocks, and inefficient heat transfer to the environment, resulting in cold rooms and greater heating costs. It can also cause corrosion of the system, resulting in weakening and even the breaking of pipes, radiators, or boiler heat exchangers. 

The right solution

To reduce air in a system you can fit valves that automatically vent air as it accumulates in a riser, as well as standard and automatic air vents in radiators. The advantage of having automatic valves is that the air build up is managed on an ongoing basis rather than at its annual inspection, or worse when it breaks down. The Altecnic DISCALSLIM® is designed for continuous venting of air, down to the level of micro-bubbles (gradual and continuous degassing) and may be installed on either a vertical or horizontal pipe.

For debris removal, older systems may well have filters or strainers fitted, which will remove larger particles. However, smaller particles such as fine sand, rust and magnetite will not get trapped and the strainer will cause a loss in water pressure in the system, which is only made worse as it gets clogged up. 

Whilst strainers need to be regularly removed and cleaned, modern dirt separators exploit gravity to remove even very small particles down to 5µm by reducing the speed of the water passing through them, minimising any loss in operating pressure.

Some, such as Altecnic’s Dirtmag Mini, have triple dirt and air separation features. This includes an air vent for air separation and an internal polymer element for particle separation and hydraulic performances, as well as a power magnetic dirt separator. 

Ferromagnetic particles are retained in the collection chamber and prevented from returning to circulation. A drain cock with a hose connection allows for the simple removal of impurities. Full-bore isolation valves also allow for ease of servicing whilst the filter is in-situ. They are also available as part of compliance packs which include aerosol cleaner and inhibitor chemicals.

The new Caleffi XF from Altecnic provides an extra filtering device in one component. 

The combined action of the filter and the dirt separator ensures maximum efficiency when it comes to the separation of impurities within the system, from the very first passage. Through its extra filtration, the Caleffi XF eliminates magnetite in the closed circuit, preserving the magnetic rotors. Like the Dirtmag Mini, the Caleffi XF has been developed to have extremely quick and efficient maintenance, thanks to the internal brush mechanism. 

Solutions for commercial systems

There are many older commercial heating systems where air and dirt build-up is an ongoing problem. The Altecnic DISCALDIRT® 546 Series deaerator-dirt separator, available in sizes DN50 – DN 150, utilises the combined action of several physics principles to solve this problem. 

The active part consists of a set of concentric metal mesh surfaces. These elements create the swirling motion required to facilitate the release of micro-bubbles and their adhesion to the surfaces. The bubbles fuse and increase in volume until the hydrostatic thrust is sufficient to overcome the force of adhesion to the structure. They then rise towards the top of the device and are expelled through a float-operated automatic air vent valve. The impurities in the water, colliding with the metal surfaces of which the internal element is composed, are separated, and fall to the bottom of the valve body.

Preventative heating system maintenance helps keep them efficient so it is worth explaining to your customers how they may benefit from modern air and dirt removal systems.

For more information, contact Chris Reilly, Country Manager for Ireland, on +353 (0)85 215 2288 or e-mail or Gary Swann, Northern Ireland Sales Manager on +44 (0)7760 596727 or e-mail or visit the website at