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QUESTION YOUR SYSTEM FILTER: Does it really do what you think it does? And how well?


The rise and rise of the system filter in recent months has seen the introduction of several new units to the marketplace, most with fancy technical names and many appearing superficially to do the same thing in a differently shaped unit, relying heavily on magnets as the only active ingredient in the solution they offer.

First introduced as a belt and braces additional ‘maintenance’ unit to ‘mop up’ any remaining debris circulating in the system water after the system has been cleaned and inhibited, system filters have become very much a part of the required kit when replacing a boiler. Sadly, the impression given by some manufacturers is that a magnetic filter will do the whole job of keeping a system flowing effectively and efficiently. The real concern has to be that if there is the huge amount of magnetic debris you see attached to the magnets in some advertisements, the system clearly hasn’t been cleaned or inhibited properly. The filter is not a substitute for authentic water treatment as required by the Building Regulations Compliance Guide. A system filter needs to be part of the clean, protect and maintain regime that is what quality water treatment is all about.

Many thousands of filters installed on systems in the UK simply address the magnetic debris and whilst that’s half the problem solved, it’s also arguably half the problem ignored. The higher costs of all metal based products from around the world has not ignored the cost of magnets and the magnets included in some system filters have noticeably reduced in size in recent months, reducing their level of effectiveness, but this has not been alluded to in sales and marketing materials by the companies involved in this practice. It’s been necessary to keep the production costs of the units at or around the cost they were before the magnet costs escalated, but there is no mention of a reduction of magnetic field, strength or size on the packaging! Or any reduction in their levels of effectiveness, perish the thought!

Many magnetic based filters have been sold on the back of impressive sounding claims about the high ‘first pass’ rate of debris removal – with stunningly high rates of removal within the first hour reported by some manufacturers. However, perhaps a better measure of a filter’s performance is over the first 24 hours after installation. After 24 hours of operation, the vast majority of circulating debris should have been collected. Interestingly filters that are wholly reliant on a magnet, have their performance compromised as the magnetic field strength deteriorates due to the magnet itself becoming coated with the initial debris – a victim of their own success perhaps and a good reason to focus on the effect of the unit for the first hour! To maintain performance the magnet must be regularly cleaned – not just once a year.

Sentinel has just launched its brand new technology system filter – the Eliminator – which utilises ground breaking Quadra-CycloneTM Technology to rapidly remove all circulating debris – both magnetic and non-magnetic – from a central heating system. Powerful centrifugal forces spin the debris down whilst simultaneously forcing clean water up through the centre, ensuring superior separation and a quick and effective clean. It’s similar technology to a well known brand of vacuum cleaners, but this time the technology is used in a water based environment rather than one based on cyclonic air movement.

With limescale a key cause of boiler failure and heating system problems in hard water areas, a magnetic filter is ignoring a major cause of problems from non-magnetic circulating debris. As you would expect from Europe’s leading water treatment specialist, the Sentinel Eliminator doesn’t ignore this key issue, addressing it head on. It may be less of a problem by volume compared to magnetic debris, but it’s still a significant problem, nonetheless.

The Eliminator is the only new unit that offers new technology that actually works. Quadra-CycloneTM Technology offers four individual cyclones that each help separate the debris, drive it down to the collecting chamber at the base of the unit where four small but powerful magnets retain the magnetic debris – they are not there as the sole method of trapping the debris, simply to retain it whilst the now clean water is forced back up the centre of the cyclone and back into circulation. Unfortunately cyclonic action in other manufacturers units simply doesn’t deliver. In fact it tends to see the water recirculated in a way that en route, sees the water picking up debris that has been attracted to the magnet in the centre of the cyclone and recirculated as dirty water around the system – rather defeating the object.

It is clearly important to understand the way the filter you select works. If a customer asks the question, it is far more encouraging to be able to show them that the system filter you have installed does what it says on the can! It isn’t enough any more simply to utilise the system filter as a means of adding additional income to the bill. It has to be actively ensuring lower energy bills, generating lower emissions and using less energy as a result of its installation. And especially if you work in an area that suffers the rigours of hard water, you should be able to show that the filter you recommend removes both magnetic and non-magnetic debris.

When you select the system filters you want to include in the heating systems you work on, question them. Are they really doing what they should be doing to provide the best maintenance of that heating system, day in day out? Or are they just doing a sterling job for half an hour? Take a closer look and choose wisely. The new technology on offer from Sentinel is carefully designed and cleverly presented to offer the best solution to circulating debris in heating systems. Peace of mind for you and your customer and no call backs to systems you’ve installed. It all makes good common sense.

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