There is a growing awareness of the benefits of installing air source heat pumps (ASHPs) in social housing heating systems.
What you may not be aware of is that magnetite, or sludge build up can still impact these systems. Heating efficiency is likely to be adversely affected in many untreated systems. Because of this, there will still be a need to test system water health and treat it appropriately to maintain heating efficiency and tenant comfort.
While still in relative infancy in this sector, retrofitting either an air source, or ground source heat pump into an existing home, along with heat pumps for new homes, can help social housing providers to meet their carbon reduction targets. Does this mean that water treatment best practice should change?
Having a heat pump fitted is currently more expensive than a traditional boiler, though as their use becomes more widely adopted, this is expected to fall. However, with a large initial investment it’s particularly important that maintenance costs are minimised, and components are protected against damage. Following ADEY’s Best Practice and the use of correct system water treatment, heating systems can be protected against otherwise preventable costly maintenance and repairs.
So how should social housing providers protect heating systems using Heat Pumps?
There are some key elements of a renewable heating system that demonstrate the need for water treatment. For instance, the fact that heat pumps operate at lower temperatures than standard heating systems means they are more prone to biological contamination. Therefore, the use of an effective biocide treatment programme is essential.
The use of plastic components, including underfloor heating and automatic air vents in renewable systems can cause air ingress, which could lead to rapid corrosion of metal parts. Magnetite, or sludge, will still build up in radiators and pipework, and heating efficiency is likely to be adversely affected in untreated systems. Because of this, there will still be a need to test system water health and treat it appropriately to maintain heating efficiency and tenant comfort.
ADEY advocates a full Best Practice solution that contractors can use to help protect heating infrastructure in social housing. Based on the principles of testing, cleaning, protecting, and monitoring system health, it provides a comprehensive checklist of the essential steps that contractors can use to help guarantee optimised renewable heating system performance for the long term.
By adopting a planned and proactive water treatment programme, the possibility of poor water quality affecting renewable heating technologies will drastically lessen or be eradicated, saving social housing providers the inconvenience and cost of breakdowns.