Having a hot-water-based heating system is a great way to warm your home. These systems are typically less noisy than forced-air systems and also produce radiant heat, which some people feel is more comfortable than a forced-air system. One potential problem with a hot-water system, however, is the accumulation of sludge and scale in the boiler. Here is a closer look at these issues.
What They Are
Sludge and scale are by-products of the water evaporation process that occurs in boilers. As the water heats, various particles are sometimes separated from the water to form a new substance. When the process creates a hard and solid substance, it's called scale. When a softer substance forms, it's known as sludge.
Why They Create Problems
These elements can interfere with the proper operation of the boiler. For example, scale can damage the metal body of the tank along with any of the boiler's metal components. Sludge makes the boiler less efficient and can clog up crucial points in the circulation system, such as the valves and pipe connections.
To prevent excessive accumulation of these deposits in your boiler, drain a couple buckets of water from the unit periodically. This should get rid of most of the sludge and scale that has built up over time.
To get started, turn off the power to the boiler and also turn the water inlet or water supply valve to off. Wait a couple of hours for the water to cool down so that you do not risk burning yourself while performing this task. Place a bucket under the drainage valve at the bottom of the unit. When the water comes out it will look misty or dirty. When it looks clear, you can stop draining. Usually a bucket or two of water will solve the problem. In some cases, the entire tank might need to be drained. This task should be left to a professional service person.
If it's difficult to place a bucket directly under the drainage valve, simply attach a garden hose to the valve and place the other end of the hose inside the bucket. When you have finished, close the drainage valve, turn the water supply valve to the on position and turn the power to the boiler back on.
Don't allow sludge and scale to disrupt your hot-water heating system. If you would prefer to have this maintenance done by an expert, contact your local heating and cooling service. The same applies if you need boiler repair.