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April 12, 2021
A power flush can be a very effective way to clean out your central heating system, but that does not make it flawless.
Not only can it often require a proper engineer who knows exactly what they are doing, but there are a lot of cases where you will need to spend more time and money on the power flush, even if you are going to do it yourself.
Of course, this price can also increase depending on the amount of radiators involved and the complexity of your central heating system and a whole host of other factors.
Before you book an engineer, it is a good idea to take a look at what your power flush cost could be, especially if you are on a very limited budget.
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A power flush can be a very useful process that might be able to solve a lot of specific problems, but that does not make it a magic solution to every single central heating issue you might be having. Power flushing is aimed at clearing the boiler and heating system of any sludge or blockages - things that can make pipes and radiators far less efficient.
Any sludge in the system can be dislodged, but until it is removed, you will be getting an inefficient spread of dirty water going around the system. If the problem is in the pipes, then installing a new boiler will not do much to help this problem since the blockage will still be there.
Not only can these blockages massively reduce the efficiency of most central heating systems, but they can create dirty boilers and radiators, which will cost a lot more to maintained repair.
Whether it is sludge rust in radiators and pipes or a limescale sludge build-up near the boiler, trying to flush the system can usually dislodge whatever is stuck there.
A power flush is the process of literally flushing the blockage away with a sudden burst of chemicals, often over the course of at least half a day.
These chemicals (which can vary based on the situation and person performing the flush) break down the sludge and any other physical obstacles while leaving the pipes, radiators and other parts of the system intact.
In short, it is a way to make sure that the heating system pipes in your home are all clear, which extends their lifespan and makes them much more efficient. With your system flushed, there should not be any sludge inside to slow down the flow of water or the transfer of heat.
Cleaning out the pipes in your central heating system is not just a way to make more space for the sake of it - it can dramatically increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your boiler and radiators in multiple different ways.
One of the most common problems that stem from sludge blockages is the cold spots in radiators. These cold spots come from the fact that hot water can't get around the system properly since the sludge is blocking part of the pipe and making it harder for the water to get around as it is supposed to.
If your system is more efficient, then you are spending less money to turn a given amount of cold water into hot water. This gives you lower fuel bills since you are not having to pay for as much power or fuel to make the system function properly.
Boilers and radiators need servicing fairly often, but dirty water and sludge can cause damage that requires maintenance much more regularly. By clearing it away with a powerflush, you are able to save plenty of money and hassle since you will not need to check the system as often.
Not only that, but it can be a good way to make sure that your home central heating system lasts longer. Any blockage can put unneeded pressure and strain on the design, but if you clear it out, then it may be able to last a lot longer without needing repairs or replacement parts.
Boilers also suffer from maintenance problems if they are constantly dealing with low pressures and/or dirty water. Flush the blockage away, and it can perform under normal conditions without having as much risk of the boiler damaging itself.
Low pressure in a central heating system can lead to the boiler and radiators not pumping the water around properly. A sludge blockage could be the cause, so getting rid of it can make it much easier to keep the pressure high and improve the systems performance.
If you get sludge in the system, then the system has to work a lot harder to get the water through. This means that it will be making a lot more noise, especially if the heating system is having to strain to get the water through a smaller space that it is not designed to tackle.
Whether it is cold water or hot water, letting your water get dirty from the sludge means that you will end up with very filthy water, which can often be a problem if you are trying to shower or bathe in it. This dirt could also cause more blockages further down the pipework if left unchecked.
A power flush is generally needed most when the system is full of sludge, debris, or anything else that can cause performance problems.
The more extreme the sludge build-up is, the more important a power flush can be, especially if you are dealing with a system that needs to handle a large amount of water daily (such as heating systems in blocks of flats or larger homes).
While a power flushed system can still have other problems (for example, physical damage might cause leaks unrelated to the sludge), it is generally the best way to clear out anything related to blockages.
Of course, you should make sure that sludge is the problem - if there is nothing to remove, then a power flush will not achieve much.
If you are going to get a new boiler installed or revamp part of your system, most experts recommend that you do a proper power flush on the system first to clear it out. This stops a build-up of sludge in the new parts of the system since there will not be any existing sludge to cause it.
There are also times where it is simply a good idea to power flush, especially if you are fairly confident that the problem is all related to a blockage. For example, if you have moved into a house that still has the old boiler system, a flush can sometimes clear out whatever is left from the previous occupants.
Before you start looking into the power flush cost of a central heating system, you should also be sure that you actually need a power flush at all.
Trying to power flush a central heating system that does not need it can be a waste of money, and a chemical flush could even wear out the pipes slightly if there is no sludge for it to target.
Common signs of a blockage that can be power flushed away include:
As mentioned before, cold spots are a very common indicator of a blockage stopping radiators from getting the water that they need, especially if the cold parts are at the bottom of the radiator design.
The more severe the cold is, the worse the blockage is, although this can also be the result of a blockage and a leak.
Speaking of leaks, they can also be a sign that you are dealing with sludge in your central heating system. If there is nowhere else for the high-pressure water to really go, it can wear down the pipes, especially around harsh corners. This can cause them to burst or crack, creating leaks that normally would not have happened.
If you have to bleed air out of your radiators much more often than usual, it is probably because the lack of water is trapping air pockets inside the radiator pipework. Bleeding them out is not much of a problem, and many people do it themselves, but you may need a power flush to get rid of the root cause.
Any obvious bad performance from your system, whether it is loud noises or slow warming-up periods, can also hint at the need for power flushing. There can be other causes, too, though, so it is up to your own individual judgement (or the opinion of an expert, if you can get one to take a look at your system).
Remember that things like damage to a magnetic filter can be good evidence since a magnetic filter can still be beaten if a huge amount of debris is squeezing past.
There are multiple parts to the cost of power flushing. Not only is there a cost for the actual power flushing machine or gear that needs to be used, but if you are getting an expert to do it, you will have to pay for that too. Sometimes, there might even be a cost for the initial inspection that they do to check out your system.
That is not even mentioning the number of radiators involved, the amount of chemical flush fluid needed, or even smaller things like dust sheets that you may want to lay down to protect the floor. Different companies can also have their own pricing structures, which influence the overall cost even further.
In most cases, if you are getting somebody else (like a heating engineer) do to the work for you, then you will be paying them for the service. For a house with six radiators total, you can expect to pay somewhere in the realm of £300 to £350, which increases as more radiators need a power flush.
A seven-radiator household might require a payment of £400 for a professional to do the work, and a 10-radiator household could bump that up to £500. For small or medium-sized homes, somewhere between £400 and £500 is common for the full process if you are using a local heating engineer.
For larger buildings, such as those with 15 or more radiator units on the same system, you will often end up paying more to get a power flush on every radiator that might need it. This could be upwards of £600, not counting any other costs that might be important to the work.
British Gas offer fairly reliable power flushing services, but their prices often fall about 30% higher (sometimes even more) than the standard price you would pay for a local engineer. If you have to power flush many radiators, they can do the work to a high degree of satisfaction, but you will also need to pay a higher overall cost.
Sometimes your power flush will unclog the central heating system and reveal new problems, such as leaks or rust. While a power flushing machine can't fix these, it can still produce clean water in the short term, but you will want to get these other issues fixed as soon as possible.
The average cost of heat system repairs can be hard to calculate since it depends on what the problem is. A small issue that takes around an hour to fix can easily fall within double-digit prices, but for major projects, you might have to get a quote and wait a while for them to figure out what the cost actually is.
There is also always a chance that your power flush could lead to boiler breakdowns if something is wrong with the design. For example, if your combi boiler has started to rust on the inside, then a strong power flushing could erode those rusted parts and force you to get the combi boiler repaired or buy a new boiler.
This can sometimes happen if key parts, like the heat exchanger, are already rusting away.
If you do need a new combi boiler then see our guide to the best combi boilers.
Just treat it like any other boiler or radiator fault: identify the problem, get a quote, and look into your warranties to see if the issue is covered. If the damage came from a power flush that was performed incorrectly by somebody you hired or paid, then you may also be able to claim the money to get repairs done.
If you are going to try doing a power flush yourself (which can be really difficult if you are not prepared), then you obviously are not paying for the central heating system to be power flushed in the physical sense. Instead, you need to think about the things you will need to get for the power flush to work.
The chemical involved is always the hardest part since there are multiple ones that you could use. Some are cleaners for specific central heating system units and other appliances, which can easily fall below £20. Others are multi-purpose chemical mixes designed to work with any boiler and radiators, which can cost upwards of £40 or more.
Volume matters too. A smaller system with a low number of radiators does not need a huge chemical flush, so you can keep the cost of a power flush down by buying no more than you need. Specific chemicals like corrosion inhibitors or descalers can vary in price depending on what they actually are and how they are supposed to be used.
You will need a power flushing machine, sheets to protect your home, chemicals, a rubber mallet (to knock the pipes and radiators, which loosens the sludge) and all of the connectors necessary to pipe water and your chemical mixture into the system. This is usually done through radiator valves, so most power flush chemical bottles will have nozzles that are compatible with radiator valves as standard.
The baseline is around £300 for a standard power flushing service (if you are not doing any of the work yourself), and the price obviously varies depending on the situation. Here is a very quick overview of some things you might want to keep in mind when you are gearing up for a chemical flush since you never know when another problem can creep up on you.
A regular heating system power flush will generally cost roughly £300 for a small or average home with six radiators, increasing by roughly £20-30 for each additional radiator you add. This will take about 3-4 hours, which will obviously also scale up if more radiators are involved.
Using this as an example, you can expect six radiators to cost about £300 and take 4 hours, whereas twelve radiators will be priced somewhere around £420 and take closer to 5 hours. Bigger companies, such as British Gas, may charge more overall.
Some companies may charge for materials separately. However, it is possible that they will charge by the number of bottles that they need to use. If one bottle of boiler and radiator flush chemicals costs them £60 but serves six radiators, then people with seven radiators may have to pay £120 for materials since they technically have to use two bottles.
Others will increase the price based on how many radiators you have, which often falls in line with roughly £10 for every two extra radiators they need to flush. There are also plenty of companies and freelancers that will not charge for materials at all and will just roll the extra costs into their normal fee or ignore it entirely.
When you flush a central heating system and boiler, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Heating system power flushes can always expose damage that you were not aware of (or sometimes even cause damage, if done incorrectly), which means that you have got to fix it.
A boiler repair job usually starts at around £150 for small things like fan replacements or the adjustment of a single pipe. If you get to more serious problems like heat exchanger replacement, expect the costs to climb as high as £400 or more.
Unlike a boiler, radiators are often a little bit easier to fix and check, so an engineer will not always charge such a high price. A standard small job will still fall just under £150 in many cases, although the severity of the issue and the number of radiators the engineer has to replace can impact this.
If you are planning to get a new boiler or radiator to heat your home, but want to do a power flush first, then this may impact what you pay as well. A new boiler can cost between £500 to £1500 on average, depending on the exact type of new boiler you are getting, and that is just for the physical product alone.
Once you have the boiler, it has to be installed, which can add another £500 to £1500 on to your original price, depending on how complex the process is. If your new boiler is completely different from your old one, the price of altering the pipes to work with the new boiler can push your bill higher.
Radiators are cheaper at only around £320 at most, with many of them falling below £150 and quite a few barely even entering triple-digit prices. The price of replacing the old ones can add another £100 to £200 to the price tag, more if the pipes have to be adjusted for it to fit properly.
Whether you have a new boiler or just want to clean your old boiler, it is not hard to check online and find places to get a flush booked for your heat system. You can always look online for the last-updated entries in various engineer list websites or check your local area for anybody who is willing to tackle a heating system and boiler.
Be sure to check online since that is where most of the best boiler engineers are. Not all of them are big 'all rights reserved' companies, but with little more than a name, email and maybe your address, you can start getting quotes for boiler flushes and potential boiler replacements.
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