Power Flush vs Chemical Flush – What’s The Best?

Last updated: June 8, 2021

Flushing your heating system is a necessary process to enhance its lifespan and fix any problems. If you have noticed any cold spots on your radiator and it isn’t working as it once did, it might be time to consult professionals and consider a flush.

As radiators get older, it’s pretty easy for various debris in the water system to build up over time. These debris (which might include rust or other contaminants) can hinder the functioning of your central heating system if left untreated. In the long run, this can cost a lot and might lead to the installation of an entirely new boiler. A powerflush, however, can prolong the lifespan of your system, resulting in hotter radiators, lower energy expenditure, and cheaper energy bills.

You can think of a radiator flush, much like a human doing a dietary or colonic cleanse. Once their system is cleaner, they feel healthier, have better energy, and operate more optimally. A power flush is thus an easy way to boost the health of your central heating system and ensure a high quality of heat emission throughout your home.

If you’ve been noticing issues with your radiator and can feel cold patches that are not heating up or hear funny noises, it might be time for a system flush. There are two popular methods used, namely a power flush and a chemical flush.

Dirty water can significantly impact your boiler, be it a gas or combi boiler, and thus it’s best to clean out the central heating system as soon as issues arise.

Let’s explore which option works best for your particular needs.

Do I Need a System Flush?

If your central heating system is older and you notice that the room isn’t heating up as it once did, it could be time to embark on this procedure. When your heating is on, run your hand along the surface of your radiators (making sure not to burn it!) and check if there are any cool spots. If there are, this is the first warning sign that something is amiss. Signs might include:

Cold spots

Cooler patches can indicate a build-up of debris. If that’s the case, chemical cleaners are needed to erode them. Moreover, if the pipes are hot but the heater is cold, there is undoubtedly a blockage that needs to be cleared.

Discoloured water

Another sign that you might need to call the professionals is if you see discoloured water when you bleed your heater.

Strange noises

If you hear any strange noises coming from the pipes, something is probably wrong.

Maintenance

When it comes to central heating installation, maintenance is key. Most heaters will need to be flushed at some point or another, but this should only be after five years or so if you stick to your service plan. Older homes with older heating devices might need more regular flushes if problems arise. However, it is largely dependent on the boiler that you have. If it uses a copper heat exchanger rather than a stainless steel one (which are more durable), corrosion might occur sooner in the system and a flush might be needed before the 5 years are up.

Added to this, some boiler installation companies will require that you do a power flush if a new boiler is installed. If you are installing a gas boiler, always ensure you use a registered gas safe technician to meet safety regulations. Anything else is illegal and could result in problems and safety issues.

What Is a Power Flush?

Powerflushing is a pretty standard procedure and is usually carried out by specialists. Essentially, a specialised pumping unit is connected to your heating system, and the qualified engineer will send a high flow of chemicals through the pump and pipes into your heating system. This chemical clean process uses specific cleaning chemicals to flush away sludge, rust, and debris and operates with a high-pressure flow.

The heating engineer might also use descaling agents to eliminate any limescale that has built up over the years and might also include a special corrosion inhibitor to prevent future rust from forming.

The engineer will then remove the contaminated water safely, and the process shouldn’t take longer than a day. If, however, there is a particularly stubborn build-up of rust or debris, they might utilise special tools to get rid of these materials.

The professionals do a power flush, and while the cost of hiring someone might deter you, it’s a standard part of radiator maintenance in many homes, especially with older heating systems. Once flushed, your radiators will function optimally, and adequate heat will be restored.

What Is a Chemical Flush?

While power flushing uses chemicals too, a chemical flush works slightly differently and doesn’t use a pump. In simple terms, a chemical flush is the more basic of the two options and uses gravity to get the job done. A chemical flush is useful if only a tiny spot of the heater is cold, as an entire power flush might be excessive for a small patch. Ultimately, the chemicals also work to dissolve debris.

Difference Between a Power Flush and a Chemical Flush

Power flushing is done by an engineer and utilises the pump to clean out the entire central heating system. A chemical flush, on the other hand, can target smaller jobs and doesn’t need a pump. Moreover, if you have had the professionals in to do a power flush relatively recently (the last year or two), a simple chemical flush might suffice and won’t cost you as much as a power flush.

Which is Better?

This depends largely on the task at hand and the type of system that you have. For big jobs, a power flush is far more effective and will ensure the eradication of stubborn debris. For smaller jobs or one problematic heater, a chemical flush might just do the job.

Benefits of a Power Flush for Your System

The benefits of a power flush are multiple and can save you money in the long run. If you forgo the process, you might have to fork out a fortune in the future on an entire system replacement or pay for the installation of a magnetic filter and limescale inhibitor. Benefits of a power flush or chemical flush include:

  • Improved heat circulation in your home and no more cold patches
  • Enhanced energy efficiency while ultimately results in lower energy bills
  • Prolong the lifespan of the system so that you do not have to replace it entirely
  • A quiet system, void of leaks and problems

How Much Will I Pay?

Since all boilers are different, there really is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to cost. Factors such as the age of your central heating, type of boiler, and the size of your system all need to be considered. While a power flush might seem like an initial chunk of money, it can save you cash in the long run by prolonging the lifespan of your central heating system and reducing your energy bills.

Consult the professionals and get a quote!