The Attraction of Magnetism

The attraction of magnetism

When I was in a physics class at school, many many years ago, each student was given a small metal bar (about 2” long). We were then invited by the teacher to hold said bar beneath a piece of paper upon which he had sprinkled some iron filings. Those of you who enjoyed a similar education will not be surprised to hear that nothing happened. A bit of a non event as it were.

We were then given a length of copper wire and instructed to wind it around the bar from top to bottom or from one end to the other, if you prefer, being sure to leave enough spare at each end to connect to the power outlets on the work benches. I hasten to add that these power outlets did not supply power at mains voltage! They were for kids to use while running electrical ‘experiments’.

OK, so job done, disconnected from the power and bar removed. As if by magic when the bar was held under the paper the iron filings stood to attention. Ain’t science wonderful?

So, why am I telling you this?

Recently I spent an hour or more, under the sink wrapping two pieces of wire around my cold water inlet pipe. I was connecting a PWT (Physical Water Treatment) device intended to reduce the hard limescale content in my water system. Once the wires were wrapped according to the instructions I, you guessed it, plugged them into a big ‘ish black box which I, wait for it, plugged into the mains! Instantly two green lights came on brightly and the red one in between flashed on and off. This proved that both green lights and the red light worked. Neat.

What else worked? Good question. If my physics teacher of over 50 years ago is to be believed I am now making a magnet out of my water. Seems odd. How can I tell? I’ve always been quite attracted to water, we’ve spent a lot of time together over the years but I’m not sure I could quantify how attracted I am.

OK, the theory is that the device creates an electromagnetic field and when water passes through it the bit of the water that ultimately produces limescale is changed so that I don’t have the  constant problem of hard limescale in my boiler, washing machine, kettle etc.. That’s it in a nutshell.

The problem is that although the ‘technology’ has been around for some decades people are still arguing that it doesn’t work or that it cannot work. Yet it is still on the market and supposedly still very popular.

It seems that some institutions have tested it and claim that it cannot work and a similar number are seemingly engaged in finding out if it does work. Yet others know that it does work and are spending lots of time making it useable for industry. The bottom line is that limescale deposits in heating/cooling systems is a massive, industrial, global problem. Major institutions/operations are demanding solutions and research has continued for many years.

Let there be no mistake, we are talking major industrial projects, power station cooling and industrial heating size projects not Auntie Mary’s cottage by the sea.

The process of using electromagnetic fields to reduce hard limescale in heating systems has been proven and used for many years. The requirement of industry is slightly different to the domestic need. Industry is generally concerned with treating recycled water in heating and cooling systems. The domestic requirement is generally the heating of mains water for either central heating or washing etc.

What’s the difference, apart from the size of problem?

The electromagnetic process of reducing/eliminating hard limescale DOES NOT, contrary to popular, belief, soften the water. It only tinkers (scientific term for fiddling about with) the  structure of the molecules that create the hard limescale. This prevents them from forming a hard limescale. They form a softer, sludge like product that is washed through the system by the pressure of the water flow.

Now before you get over excited about having ‘sludge’ in your water, we are talking molecular sludge. How many molecules can you get on a pin head? No idea but it’s more than a few!

If it’s that little why the problem with an industrial sized solution? I hear you ask.

Power stations and the like require millions of gallons of water so the cooling towers recycle the water rather than let it flow to waste and pump in new each time. This vast volume of water passing through the coils produces sludge to be formed  in such large quantities that the sludge itself becomes a problem. Scientists and researchers are energetically working to develop a filtration system which can be automatically cleaned or changed as required without the need to dump the existing water.

I respectfully suggest that if very expensive research is being carried out to find a way of cleaning up very large systems after the hard limescale has been reduced to sludge then the methodology for reducing hard limescale must be proven.

Coming back to Auntie Mary’s cottage by the sea. She, like most of us considering hard limescale to be a problem, has two hot water systems. One supplies the hot water to her taps. The other to her central heating. The water for both comes into the cottage via the rising main. The water for the taps goes through the process of being heated, comes out through the taps and goes down the sink. The electromagnetic limescale reducer/inhibitor thingy performs its magic and converts the limescale forming calcium bits and bobs into soft sludge. The small (I mean tiny, tiny here) amount of sludge is washed through the pipes and equipment by the water pressure and leaves the system through the taps or loos.

Result – No sludge left in the system to require filtration.

Auntie Mary’s central heating system is a horse of a different colour. The water is ‘loaded’ into the heating system at start up and, barring accidents, it stays there until it is power flushed through (or not) sometime in the future. A good plumber will have put various chemicals in with the water at start up and these should reduce both limescale and sludge build up for a while.

Depending on the period since installation or the last damn good power flush, an amount of limescale and sludge will accumulate in the pipes, radiators and related bits and bobs. This adversly affects the systems performance hence the need to have regular power flushes of the system (3 ish years or so?) At this point, or just before a good plumber will have advised that a power flush is required, at a price.

A good plumber will  power flush all the water, sludge and hopefully limescale from the system using suitable chemicals. During the process of refilling the system he/she will add  fresh chemicals to the new water and advise when the next power flush should be carried out. A note for your diary.

If you are already treating your water at the rising main then the central heating water will have been treated. Does this mean that chemicals are not required?

Unfortunately not 🙁 Reason given below 🙂

Would a electromagnetic limescale remover actually in the central heating circuit be advantageous?

Another Good Question.

IF (you’ll notice that that’s a big if) the system is brand spanking new and the electromagnetic limescale reducing gubbings was installed before any water entered any pipes there should be no hard limescale forming components in the water, you think? Unfortunately the hard limescale forming components are created/caused by the process of heating and cooling the water. That’s why a good plumber puts limescale inhibiting chemicals into the heating system and power flushes the system at regular intervals.

Of course IF it isn’t a brand new system then limescale will already exist in the system despite the chemicals and power flushing. The initial ‘hit’ of the treated water will obviously help but repeated cycles of heating and cooling will regenerate the ‘I’m building limescale in your heating system’ pixies who will quickly be back at work producing hard limescale. Just like their bigger brothers in the power stations. Which is where the chemicals are supposed to kick in.

The problem with using a chemical is that the chemical gets used. As it gets used it looses effectiveness and ultimately looses the battle. Limescale starts to build up and sludge accumulates. That’s when the plumber calls with his power flush, fresh chemicals and a hefty bill.

No, I haven’t forgotten the electromagnetic thingy. It’s great big brother can be employed at the power station because there is a constant flow of water around the system. With each regular circuit the water passes through the electromagnetic field and gets retreated.

The electromagnetic thingy needs a flow of water to move the ‘treated’ water into the system and make way for the next drop to be treated. In essence the treatment is ‘temporary’ but as it is being continuously replaced with fresh, newly treated water it lasts as long as necessary. However if there is no water flow then the treated water will loose it’s ‘power’. The water that is ‘trapped’ within the magnetic field will not get more and more ‘treated’ nor will it dissipate its treatment into the adjacent water by any form of convection. No flow of water equals no treatment of the system. This is the problem with using a PWT device in a domestic central heating system. The heating comes on when a thermostat says it’s too cold and goes off when the thermostat says it’s warm enough. My central heating is on and off like a whores drawers! Maybe that should read ‘very frequently’?

Even in the darkest depths of winter my heating is never on all day, everyday.

Bearing all the above in mind it is probable that, in a domestic situation, using a PWT device within the central heating system will not be worth the cost/effort.

On the other hand if you have a larger air-conditioning system that is working 24/7/365 then it would probably be worth getting some, proper, expert advice on the practical use of PWT devices.

Shall keep you posted with reports of results on the Blog

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