The Ultimate Guide To Boiler Magnetic System Filters [And Which One’s Best]

Over the last decade or so, power flushing has become less and less popular. This is partly since magnetic system filters (also known as boiler filters) are becoming more popular.

Power flushing gets rid of debris that has collected in a system. And up until recently it was the best solution.

However, magnetic system filters catch most debris and it’s a great idea to have one fitted. Using one means that a power flush doesn’t have the impact that it used to.

What is A Magnetic System Filter, and How Does it Work?
Best Magnetic System Filters
Do You Need a Magnetic System Filter?
Why a Sludge Filter is NOT an Alternative to Inhibitor
What Happens If a Magnetic Filter is Not Fitted
Magnetic System Filter Installation Costs
How to Maintain a Magnetic System Filter

Are Magnetic System Filters Worth It?

Put simply, it’s worth investing in a boiler filter. It stops heating sludge clogging up radiators, towel rails, and more importantly, your boiler. For hard water areas, you should also consider fitting a limescale reducer.

What is A Magnetic System Filter, and How Does it Work?

A heating system is built using various metal components. Take your radiators and copper piping for instance. As the years go by the insides of the pipe and radiators rust. This rust breaks off and starts to circulate through the heating system.

This is combined with dirt and scale that is contained in the water in your system. Together, these particles form central heating sludge.

This is where big problems start to occur. The sludge settles in places that cause major issues. A typical example is at the bottom of radiators.

Have you ever wondered why radiators are warm at the top, but not at the bottom? Had a recent pump failure on your boiler, or had to replace the heat exchanger? If you have, that’s going to lead to expensive repair bills.

These are common symptoms of sludge build up. And, a magnetic system filter is designed to catch this sludge and prevent this from happening; they save your heating system, and you money!

Check out this video and you’ll see how the magnetic system filter tackles sludge in a matter of minutes.

As you can see, the sludge circulates around the heating system. The magnetic system filter catches most this sludge as it passes through the filter. The filter can then be emptied to ensure it doesn’t fill up (and stop protecting your heating system).

The Best Magnetic System Filters

There are plenty more details on boiler filters after this section. But, if you’re already convinced, you’re probably confused about which are the best boiler filters on the market.

Below, we’ve curated a list of the best magnetic system filters that are the most popular, reliable and effective. You can buy all these filters at reputable plumbing merchants throughout the UK, but usually for cheaper online.

BoilerMag

BoilerMag tops our list for a tonne of reasons. They’re one of our favourite heating & plumbing brands, and we’ve already created a big guide on their BoilerMag filters here. 

They’re up there with the biggest names in the boiler filter industry, and they deserve to be; they’re on-par, if not better.

Where BoilerMag isn’t on-par is price…and, in a good way too 😊

If you compare BoilerMag’s prices to other leading brands, here’s what you’ll find…

For the price of a BoilerMag AND chemicals (i.e. their chemical pack), you’ll only have the budget for a filter (if you’re lucky), from other leading brands. BoilerMag filters are cheap!

Here’s what you’ll be able to grab with your BoilerMag purchase:

  • A MASSIVE 3-year warranty
  • Great functionality, with the ability to collect magnetic AND non-magnetic debris (that can’t be said for all boiler filters on the market)
  • A STUPIDLY low price compared with other leading brands
  • A filter designed for easy installation

Our opinion? Get a chemical pack from BoilerMag (chemical pack + scale reducer for those in hard water areas). You’ll end up with a top-notch product and have a few extra pound notes to rub together, when compared to a boiler filter purchase from the likes of MagnaClean…

Fernox TF1

Fernox is one of the most reputable brands in the filter industry. The Fernox TF1 offers excellent value for money from a brand with this much weight.

Buy the Fernox TF1 on Amazon.

Worcester Bosch’s System Filter

Generally, we stick to Instinct, Fernox and MaganClean filters. However, if you are planning to have a Worcester Bosch boiler installed, then get their own brand filter. By using their filter, you will get an extra years warranty on your boiler.

However, bear in mind Worcester Bosch magnet filters are one of the most expensive on the market.

Buy the Worcester boiler filter on Amazon.

Altecnic Dirt Mag

The Altecnic Dirt Mag filter comes with a 2-year warranty and is an excellent budget filter that has become increasingly popular over the last few years.

The MagnaClean range (Micro and Professional) from Adey

Prices start from around £70 for the MagnaClean Micro, and around £85 for the MaganaClean Professional 2 Chemical Pack.

Adey are probably the biggest supplier of magnetic system filters in the UK. Even so, their prices are incredibly reasonable.

The MagnaClean Micro is the smaller filter on offer. If your budget allows, then it’s certainly worth going for something bigger such as the MagnaClean Professional Chemical Pack.

Do You Need a Magnetic System Filter?

We regularly get asked if a magnetic system filter is a necessary addition to a heating system. The answer is always yes.

We never replace a boiler without fitting a sludge filter alongside it. And here is why.

Boiler manufacturers warranties. A lot of top boiler brands will insist two things for their warranty to be valid.

  1. The heating system should be correctly dosed with inhibitor. This helps break the sludge in the system down.
  2. The heating system should have a sludge filter installed. This ensures that any faulty components are faulty, and not just the victim of sludge.

So, it’s worth checking manufacturer terms and conditions to ensure that you warranty is valid if you don’t currently have a magnet filter installed.

Many people ask us why there isn’t a magnetic system filter already installed if they are so important. Well, one of the top brands is Adey (they produce MagnaClean filters). The brand was created by Chris Adey back in 2003 and the filters started coming to market.

It took a good few years for them to become popular so most boiler installations before 2008 won’t have one installed. The only exceptions seem to be heating specialists that suggest a homeowner have one installed to protect their heating system.

Why a Sludge Filter is NOT an Alternative to Inhibitor

Inhibitor will work in tandem to a system filter. The inhibitor works hard to break down any debris in the system. Without inhibitor, a lot of the stubborn debris build up will not be broken down. Instead it will settle in places such as the heat exchanger and radiators.

When inhibitor is correctly dosed in the system, it will allow broken down debris to flow in the heating water. This makes its way back to the return where the sludge filter is waiting to collect it.

What Happens If a Magnetic Filter is Not Fitted

Sludge is an absolute killer when it comes to central heating systems. It doesn’t just affect one part of the heating system, but all of it. If you have sludge present, or it’s building up, you’ll experience things like:

  1. Radiators are hot at the top but they won’t heat up at the bottom.
  2. They don’t get hot at the top until you bleed them, and you must bleed them regularly.
  3. The boiler is making strange noises such as banging or gurgling.
  4. Some radiators don’t get up to the temperature you require, even when the stat is set to maximum.
  5. The boiler pump has started leaking, or you’ve had multiple pump failures.
  6. Pipes to a radiator get hot, but the radiator never seems to heat up.
  7. When broken parts from the boiler are removed, they are full of dirt.
  8. The return on the boiler is cold (or Luke-warm), even though the flow is boiling hot.

Problems from sludge build up quickly compound. Sometimes they get so bad that aspects of the heating system need to be replaced (such as radiators, the boiler pump, or rad valves).

The magnet filter will not act as a total cure, as it’s more of a prevention method.

Magnetic System Filter Installation Costs

Any heating engineer will be able to install a boiler system filter.

The first thing they will do is check to see the size of the pipes that run to your boiler. This makes a difference to the price of a filter. Some lesser known brands might charge £50-60 for a 22mm sludge filter. However, a 28mm version of the same filter is likely to cost 35-40% more than this.

Once you’ve decided on a filter (costing between £60-150), the next cost is the actual installation cost.

Expect to pay £100-150 for the installation. In total, the magnetic system filter installation will be £150-275. This is certainly a ballpark estimate for installation costs. A sludge magnet can take anything from 1 to 4 hours to fit. This will depend on the ease of access to the filter and if any adjustments to pipework need to be made.

One other consideration when having a boiler filter fitted, is it’s worthwhile having a flush. Even a quick manual flush of the heating system is a good idea.

This will get rid of most the debris in the system, so the filter doesn’t get blocked. Another option is to have the heating engineer come back a week later and clean out the filter. The filter will have caught most sludge in the system so will be good for another 12 months without any maintenance.

This cost is easily offset by the money savings you’ll see on heating repairs over the years, not to mention that the filter will help to keep your central heating running much more efficiently.

How to Maintain a Magnetic System Filter

Like all parts of your central heating system, a magnetic boiler filter will need to be maintained on a regularly basis. We always suggest that the filter should be checked and cleaned every 12 months.

Luckily, this coincides with most boiler schedules. If you don’t have an annual boiler service already, I’d certainly suggest you book one in. When the Gas Safe engineer arrives, ask them if they can inspect and the clean the filter out.

If the filter is easy to access, this shouldn’t add much to the cost of your service, as it only takes 15-30 minutes to clean out. A quick inspection and clean is all the maintenance that a filter will need.

You can learn more about boiler servicing costs here.

What’s Next?

If you have any questions regarding magnetic system filters, please leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

 

 

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4 comments

  1. Marc foster Reply

    Fitted best where? Flow or return?

    1. heatingforce Reply

      Hi Marc,

      The return pipe.

      That gives the flow water the chance to break everything up ready to be caught by the filter, just before it reaches the boiler.

      Fitting it on the flow means any debris would have to pass through (or get stuck in) the boiler before reaching the filter.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  2. Cliff Poynter Reply

    Hi ,
    Good article, big fan of system filters and fitted them for years. However, on two occasions in the last 12 months on boiler change overs I have been unable to fit a filter due to lack of space, literally no space to fit at the end of the day a fairly bulky component. I have used many brands of filter including Magnaclean, Fernox, Spiromatic and more, some better suited to cramped space but some times just impossible to squeeze in. Pointless fitting a filter if it’s un accessible, or the top can not be removed for cleaning or maybe the maintenance of boiler is hindered by a filter. I was interested at your comments re a warranty being invalid unless a filter was fitted? I install mainly Baxi, Ideal or Worcester, I have spoken to all three Manufacturers who all acknowledge that at times it is impossible to fit a filter so providing the system is chemically cleansed and an inhibitor added then this is acceptable. Benchmarks for all three manufactures have a yes and no box for. “is a filter fitted?” Why is there a no box? Nothing in the installation instructions telling me I “must” fit a filter and warranties could be compromised? Which manufacturers tell us we must fit a filter? I’m genuinely interested as my research tells me it’s not compulsory? Would welcome your comments.

    Cheers, Cliff (Gas Tech)

    1. heatingforce Reply

      Hey Cliff. Yup. They’re good, as you mentioned, if you can actually clean them out. But if the system if flushed, you can go yonks without cleaning them out (in theory). Regarding warranties. I’ve seen it on a few T&Cs for boilers in the past, but they regularly change them, worth checking every now and then.

      PS. MagnaClean Micro is small, but I think the TF1 Compact is the probably the smallest.