What Does the Inhibitor Do in Central Heating?

Free flowing outlet of pipe

Central heating systems are tricky to understand from those with little experience of them. So, when they go wrong, it can leave many of us at a loss as to what to do. While calling a plumber is obviously a great idea with many benefits, they can often talk in a language that is too complicated to understand. Much of the language is so niche to plumbing and central heating, that it can be difficult to keep up.

One such word that may be used by industry experts is inhibitor. But what exactly is inhibitor and what does inhibitor do in central heating?

Inhibitor is actually a very important aspect to any central heating system, but one that many of us do not know about. Most boilers will need it to work efficiently and effectively - in fact most guarantees or warranties will insist it is used to be valid. Inhibitor helps boilers to work efficiently as it helps keep pipes clean from any build-up that occurs naturally through repeat usage. As a hardworking part of the home, the boiler is in frequent, if not constant use. Adding inhibitor to the heating system stops sludge and grime from becoming an issue. That sludge will be a product of minerals dissolved in the water as well as rust that has occurred inside any pipework. Inhibitor stops that sludge forming blockages that stop radiators getting hot or even that could break parts of a boiler.

How often should the central heating inhibitor be changed?

Given how important inhibitor can be in keeping your central heating system working effectively, how often do you need to add it or change it? Most leading professionals will recommend changing central heating inhibitor each year. The reason that it needs to be changed frequently is that it naturally becomes diluted and less effective as more and more rust enters the system over time. Plus, limescale will build up a lot over a year, so changing inhibitor in your system will act as another protector against that. If your system is ever drained by a plumber, for whatever reason, it is not only a good time to add more inhibitor, it is also beneficial as your system will likely have very little inhibitor left in it. Any plumber could add it for you as part of any regular inspection he or she carries out.

How to use radiator inhibitor

Given how frequently a household has to change radiator inhibitor, it is highly beneficial to know how to use it and change it too. While many individuals may be hesitant to do it themselves - given how costly boilers are to replace - it can be advantageous to learn how to do it yourself. Plus, it is actually very easy to do if you just follow a few simple steps.

In the first instance, look at your central heating and figure out what type you have. You will either have an open vented system or a sealed system. How you go on to add your inhibitor will be affected by what system you have.

If you have a sealed system, (in most cases just one big water tank, often in your attic), you can simply add inhibitor by pouring it in through the filling valve or loop.

If you have an open vent system, you will most likely have two big tanks of water (again, probably in your attic). In this case, you will need to pour the inhibitor into the expansion tank. In most cases, this will be the smaller of the two containers. To do this, you need to stop water from flowing in the system. Turn it off at the mains or even on the tank itself. Your tank should then drain of water.

Once that is done, you can clean it and remove any rust that you can see. If you do see rust, you need to take steps to stop this before adding water or inhibitor back into the system. Once you have cleaned up your tank and it is in good working order, you can then pour the inhibitor into the tank and turn the water back on.

Inhibitor is a product that can materially improve the shelf life of your central heating system. Knowing how it works and when to use it is therefore a good idea for any homeowner out there. Doing so may help you reduce plumbing bills further down the line, as you will have prevented a large number of issues that occur through build up in the system from regular use.

Plus, if you are looking at installing one of our great looking radiators, you want that radiator to be working at its best. Inhibitor can help it do just that. If you’re still unsure, feel free to contact us.

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