Dripping Central Heating Pumps

Central heating circulating pumps have a nominal lifespan of 5 – 10 years. Mine had been spinning for 22 years so efficiency was in decline. Although still working it possibly was failing to shove the heating water around the radiators. It needed sorting.

The heating system was under duress. Outside temperatures were banging around minus figures. Thus the weak links were becoming exposed. Symptoms of poor circulation were evident. No matter a call to the friendly heating guy should sort things, providing I could wait five months.

The system needs a power flush. An external power pump is hooked into the system. Water and chemicals are sloshed around the pipework and radiators and then squirted down the drain. All manner of sludge, wee beasties and rust come tumbling out and the heating circuit is good to go. It takes about two days. Apart from the neon sign flashing ‘Not available until late Spring’ due to workload now is also not the ideal timing to complete the exercise and explain your reasons for knocking the heating into touch for two days.

Plan B emerged, why not replace and update the circulating pump. See you already agree. The new pumps are smaller, more powerful, more effiencient and a sight less than 22 years old. To exchange the pump, easy peasy. You turn off the two isolator valves, undo the couplings, solid out the old pump, insert the new, open the isolator valves and we have lift off. 30 minutes should do it.

Being of the mind to free up the isolator valves before the new pump arrived a little penetrating oil was dripped onto the ball valve stem. The ball valve was ‘exercised’ and after a few stiff squeaks they opened and closed as per specification. Great this should be ideal for when the pump arrived. Then the damn valves stems started to leak. Flash forward 3 hours of packing, wrapping and clamping stuff around the valve to stem the flow and we had established a free valve and a leak which dripped into a roasting tin that proved ideal to slide in amongst the pipework. A wet hoover then sucked up the drips every few hours. It’s like having a baby in the house that needs changing every 4 hours. 24/7.

And now to YouTube to review techniques to change isolator valve. Plumber ‘A’ says don’t fit ball valves – thy will inevitably leak when you operate them, whereas Plumber ‘B’ says never fit gate valves they never quite close. They than went on to show how to install a vacuum seal of the system by plugging the header tank and expansion pipe and thereby avoid having to drain the whole system, but left you at risk of a massive glug; plumber ‘A’ words!

Thus an executive decision was reached. The balls valves need replacing butI was firmly advised not to attempt the vacuum seal nor anything at all until spring! So my penance for the next two months is to suck the drip tray dry every whenever. Bloody heating systems.

Alistair Owens

The meandering thoughts of someone with too much time on his hands. Tending to see the obscure and irrelevant in most events I have been forced to record this by family members as a means of diverting attention away from them. But I see their plan.

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