WHAT LOOKS LIKE A SMALL PROBLEM... IS CAUSING BIG TROUBLE
An in-depth look at an emerging cause of hydronic system failure... and the solution
Iron oxide, also called magnetite. This damaging black sludge is the unavoidable result of oxidation inside untreated hydronic systems. As little as a few teaspoons can cause tremendous damage.
In fact, according to Dr. Neil Watson, ADEY® Chief Technical Officer, "nearly 70 percent of circulator pumps returned to pump manufacturers fail due to iron oxide and other water quality issues. Data also show that over 95 percent of debris in hydronic heating systems is made up of iron oxide."*
These startling figures are backed up by contractor experiences in the field. "When a system is serviced, black iron oxide is often present and needs to be removed," says Tom Tonkins, Director of U.S. Business Development for ADEY. In fact, any black iron pipe system is vulnerable to sludge buildup. Any home built before 1960 is likely to have black iron pipe, and the material is still used today. But why is sludge, and the problems it causes, becoming so increasingly prevalent?
New Equipment, New Problems
The answer lies in the equipment itself, according to Tonkins: "The introduction into the North American market of high-efficiency boilers and ECM pumps, both of which have narrow waterways, has really changed the game. Narrower waterways mean higher efficiency, but with that comes a much greater tendency to clog." In addition, "the new ECM pumps, which have variable speed motors for higher efficiency, have magnets in them... and magnets love magnetite," explains Tonkins. As the magnets pull iron oxide into the circulator, even very small quantities can foul the pump, leading to potential – and costly – pump failure.
“When a system is serviced, black iron oxide is often present and needs to be removed.” - Tom Tonkins
The Answer Comes From the U.K. ...
The answer, which was developed in the U.K. over a decade ago, has finally made it across the pond to North America. In the last quarter of 2016, ADEY® Professional Heating Solutions began the U.S. roll-out of its innovative line of magnetic filtration devices. The line, called MagnaClean® because it uses high-grade neodymium magnets to target and remove magnetite via magnetic filtration technology, consists of models that can be installed in every type of application from small residential to heavy industrial.
ABOVE LEFT: An inside view of the MagnaClean Professional2™, illustrating the sludge capture process as system water is forced around the magnet inside the canister.
ABOVE: Magnets removed from actual installations show how much iron oxide is trapped and removed from the system. Just a fraction of this amount of sludge can damage the system irreparably. Commercial units can trap up to several pounds of sludge when first installed.
Simple Technology, Brilliant Solution
MagnaClean filters, regardless of their size or application, all utilize the same technology. In residential units, a canister houses a magnetic rod assembly, around which system water flows – without the need for a reduction in system pressure. "It’s a beautifully simple device," says Tonkins. "There are no moving parts. The inlet and outlet are shaped to force a cyclonic flow around the magnet, which captures the sludge." This first-pass capture makes MagnaClean filters top-of-class in filtration solutions.
Benefits for Homeowners, End-Users and Installers
In addition to its innovative design and unparalleled performance, MagnaClean filters offer a host of other meaningful benefits to homeowners, installers, and commercial customers.
For homeowners, perhaps the greatest benefits of MagnaClean residential filters are the reduction in maintenance bills as well as the increase in energy savings – both a direct result of the removal of system-clogging sludge. Additional benefits include a reduction of carbon emissions, zero operating costs and no parts to replace. MagnaClean also helps extend the life of the boiler by maintaining peak operating efficiency.
Installers of MagnaClean residential filters, on the other hand, will benefit from reduced call backs on newly installed boilers, and appreciate the ease of in-line installation offered by MagnaClean’s rapid-fit connectors, and bi-directional inlet and outlet valves. Servicing is even easier, with access through the screw-off canister lid allowing for quick removal of the magnetic rod for rinse-down cleaning, as well as easy dosing of ADEY System Treatment Formulas.
Commercial customers enjoy similar benefits, but on a larger scale. System efficiency, reduced maintenance, increased energy savings, and increased system life all top the list on the commercial side as well. Add to that ASME-listed construction of a stainless steel cast body, individually removable magnetic rods, EPDM full-face flange gaskets for maximum strength seal at high temperatures, and flexible installation options – and you’ve got a commercial solution that’s hard to top.
THE MAGNACLEAN LINE-UP
From left to right:
- MagnaClean Micro2™: Smallest servicing height in industry. For 3/4" copper and 3/4" NPT iron pipework.
- MagnaClean Professional2™: Best-selling size. For 3/4" copper and 1" NPT iron pipework.
- MagnaClean Professional2XP™: For large residential & light commercial. For 1" copper and 1-1/4" NPT iron pipework.
- MagnaClean DualXP™: For large residential & light-to-medium commercial. For 1-1/2" copper and NPT iron pipework.
- MagnaClean Commercial™: For light commercial to heavy industrial. Five models – flange sizes 2", 3", 4", 6" or 8".
Solutions that Make Sense for Any Application
ADEY offers magnetic filters in a variety of sizes. From the tightest residential spaces to the larges industrial applications, there’s a MagnaClean filter for every system, regardless of size (see blue box, below). And as ADEY Chairman Duncan Cooper points out, there’s no system that can afford to be without one. “I think that installers clearly see the benefits and they’re able to sell those very real benefits to the consumer...I think the day will come when every hydronic heating installation will have a magnetic filter on it,” says Cooper. “I’ve met lots of installers, and I’ve yet to meet one that doesn’t want to do a good job for his customer. They’re installing fantastic pieces of equipment, and they’re professionally trained. It seems logical to me, and to so many installers that I talk to, that you really want to install and maintain them properly afterwards. It’s not a fit and forget, and that’s where MagnaClean makes the difference.”
“I think the day will come when every hydronic heating installation has a magnetic filter on it.” - Duncan Cooper
ADEY Best Practice™ System Process Protects and Extends the Life of Hydronic Heating Systems
Beyond MagnaClean filters, ADEY has in fact made other significant strides toward the goal of extended equipment life through proper maintenance. The company’s pioneering ADEY Best Practice™ System Process is a five-step routine designed to clean and protect hydronic heating systems for maximum efficiency.
ADEY Best Practice™ heating system protection
ABOVE: ADEY’s Best Practice™ Treatment Process consists of 5 steps, as shown in the graphic above.
Step 1: Clean with ADEY MC3+ Cleaner
Step 2: Flush with MagnaCleanse
Step 3: Filter with MagnaClean filter
Step 4: Protect using ADEY MC1+ Protector
Step 5: Test with ADEY Engineer’s test kit
"The process starts with cleaning the system using ADEY’s MC3+™ Cleaner to lift sludge from the system," says Tom Tonkins. "The next step is to remove suspended sludge from the system by carrying out a MagnaCleanse™. Next, to treat the system against the formation of new sludge, and finally to test system water quality. The whole five-step process is geared toward maximizing system efficiency and extending equipment life."
ADEY’s mission is to promote this system, and the products that comprise it, in order to ensure installers are equipped with the best tools for the job, providing them with effective solutions that solve their everyday problems.
"We believe this is critical in driving the adoption of better standards across the industry. That’s why our biggest challenge is also our biggest opportunity – to inspire change," says John Vaughan, ADEY Chief Executive Officer.
ADEY Treatment Products – A Vital Part of Best Practices
A vital component of the Best Practice process are ADEY’s System Treatment Formulas. MC3+™ Cleaner works by loosening debris and scale so it can be flushed from the system. MC1+™ can then be used to inhibit the further formation of scale and sludge, maintaining system efficiency by keeping narrow waterways flowing freely. Both products are available in single-use bottles or, alternatively, in rapid-dose canisters which can be used to dose against system pressure without the need to drain the system - in as little as 20 seconds.
ABOVE: ADEY Treatment Products, designed to clean & protect the system to ensure maximum performance. MC1+ and MC3+ are available in rapid-dose canisters which can be dosed against system pressure, without the need for system drain down.
From Humble Beginnings, A Bright Future
With so many products and plans in place for industry-changing innovation, it’s easy to forget ADEY’s humble beginnings. Chris Adey, a contractor himself, created the prototype for MagnaClean in his garden shed in 2003, after realizing the need for a way to remove the black sludge that kept turning up in his customers’ hydronic systems. He sold his car to buy the tooling to make the first residential model, and made his first MagnaClean sale that same year. Today, ADEY employs over 200 professionals, operates in 3 continents, and is Europe’s single largest specialist HVAC water treatment manufacturer.
ABOVE: ADEY Headquarters in Cheltenham, England. Facility includes an on-site lab, business offices, and manufacturing plant.
The company’s culture of innovation continues to drive their mission to bring products to market that aid homeowners and installers in maintaining system performance, and preventing the effects of iron oxide sludge on today’s hydronic systems.
*Pump failure data based on studies of returns to European pump manufacturers. Percentage of iron oxide/magnetite in hydronic heating system debris also based on studies of European systems.
The ADEY MagnaClean Professional2 features a powerful permanent magnet that traps iron oxide. The magnet can be slipped out of the sheath for easy rinse-down cleaning. Magnet is shown in sheath at left of canister, coated in iron oxide.
MAGNACLEAN BY THE NUMBERS
Number of MagnaClean units installed in Europe
More effective in capturing iron oxide sludge than dirt separators or basket filters*
More energy-efficient than dirt separators or basket filters*
54% / 68%
Less pressure drop than with a dirt separator or basket filter, respectively*
Amount of iron oxide sludge collected by a 2" MagnaClean commercial filter in 2 hours*
Operating costs, moving parts, parts to replace
Of failed circulator pumps returned to manufacturers, failed due to iron oxide sludge*
Loss in boiler efficiency in just three weeks without proper treatment
*All data based on studies of European systems, using the European version of MagnaClean Commercial product.
For more information on the ADEY MagnaClean Commercial, please click here.
For a video on the ADEY MagnaClean Commercial, please click here