High Efficient Low Temperature Hydronic Systems. How to Keep them Efficient

Low-temperature Hydronic Systems: The Risks of Bacteria Build-up

What is considered a low temperature system?
A low-temperature hydronic heating system operates at water temperatures typically ranging from 90 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (32 to 60 degrees Celsius) which is significantly lower than you operate a traditional hydronic baseboard system at.

Low temperature systems, especially ones using condensing boilers or heat pumps, can provide energy savings and cost efficiencies however, bacteria growth can prevent these systems from working as efficiently as they should.

Why is bacteria a risk to low temperature hydronic heating systems and what are the results?
Bacteria grows rapidly between temperatures of 40F/4.5C and 140F/60C, making low temperature hydronic systems the perfect breeding ground for bacterial growth.

As bacteria builds up, biofilms attach to system surfaces. Biofilms look like slime, and this layering on the system surfaces causes heat transfer issues and therefore reduces efficiencies. According to ALVIM Clean Tech, a company that innovates high-tech solutions for biofilm monitoring,  less than 1mm of biofilm in a heat exchanger can result in up to a 30% loss in heat transfer.

Bacteria also causes microbial corrosion, with copper, iron, nickel, aluminium, and steel being the most vulnerable to this type of corrosion. This corrosion can eventually lead to pinholes and system leaks. These pinholes also allow oxygen to enter the system. If left untreated, oxidation will occur in the system and magnetite forms. For more information on magnetite, read our blog on “how corrosion destroys a hydronic system”.

How to protect against / prevent bacterial growth?

ADEY® has formulated a 4 simple step process specifically for tackling bacteria growth in low temperature systems.

  1. Test the system for pH and corrosion using ADEY’s water test strips
  2. Clean the system with an acidic based cleaner like ADEY’s MC40+™, and a MagnaClean HP™; a dedicated magnetic and bacteria slime capture filter
  3. Protect the system with ADEY’s MC1+® inhibitor
  4. Maintain the system by testing the water at least annually, servicing the MagnaClean HP, and topping up inhibitor levels as needed.

For more in-depth information on this Best Practice solution for protecting low temperature hydronic heating systems, read our “How to Protect Against / Prevent Bacterial Growth in Low Temperature Hydronic Systemsblog.

Sources:
ALVIM: Biofilm & Energy efficiency (alvimcleantech.com)