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ICOM launches brace of initiatives to improve commercial heating performance

Water quality guide and commissioning benchmarks aimed at ensuring systems run closer to design efficiency

Commercial heating body ICOM has launched a brace of initiatives as it seeks to ensure systems run closer to their design efficiency. The first is a guide to DHW water quality, aimed at helping installers and end users understand the effects of scale and corrosion on their systems, which ICOM members believe is a poorly understood area which has a significant impact on system efficiency. The second, a commissioning checklist, based on the domestic Benchmark checklist, is designed to improve standards in installation and thereby to help rid the industry of the cowboy element.

The guide, Water Quality Consideration of Domestic Hot Water Systems for Commercial Applications, addresses issues such as water quality and analysis; contamination; water treatment options; cleaning; system design; technology optionsn and appropriate maintenance. ICOM is now looking to raise awareness amongst commercial contractors of the importance of clean water to the heating systems, from commissioning through to routine maintenance.

ICOM technical consultant Bob Walsh said he believes that a general lack of understanding of the impact of water contamination and scale in particular on system efficiency was hitting end users in the pocket. He said: “Across a commercial heating system’s lifecycle, in excess of 90 per cent of the cost is down to the fuel, so if you can save just 10 per cent of that by effective maintenance, it is a significant saving.”

One of the problems, ICOM believes, is that during routine maintenance, while many of the major heating components are cleaned, there is rarely a focus on the waterways within the heat exchanger, which if scaled can lead to inefficient running; pump problems and leakage.

The new Commercial Benchmark checklist has been launched alongside the guide, in a bid to set quality standards for commercial heating systems at the commissioning stage. Mr Walsh said: “Equipment is getting more complex and it is being installed in buildings that have often been adapted from the use for which they were designed, so it is essential that it is installed by competent installers if it is to run as intended.”

By linking the commissioning checklist to the warranties of new boilers, ICOM intends to standardise the process, in the same way the domestic Benchmark scheme is being used. Mr Walsh said: ”The evidence of competence in the completed checklist will strengthen the manufacturer’s guarantee.”

ICOM director Ross Anderson added that the voluntary scheme, which already has the buy-in of most commercial heating manufacturers, would help rid the industry of early failure due to poor installation. He said: “We have heard of failures within a few weeks but it isnt the appliance that has failed, it is the installation - or the installer.”


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