Manifold failure - cause and effect

As with any complex system comprising of numerous parts - some individual components are relatively unknown. A good example of this is the humble manifold chamber - an essential but low profile part of a ground source system (they are usually buried in the ground!)

A manifold chamber takes all of the pipes carrying the heat from the ground (usually 6 ports, but can be as many as 20 ) and converts them to two larger header pipes which go on to the heat pump itself.

Recently we were called out by one of our ground source clients to check on a heating system which was malfunctioning. We have a service contract on this system which was originally installed by another company. Various checks revealed that the glycol heat exchanger fluid was dangerously low, with a possible leak inside the manifold chamber. It then became clear that a joint in the pipework inside the chamber had failed due to significant corrosion (see photos below).

Certain combinations of metals can undergo electrolytic reactions in the thermal transfer fluid (glycol) environment, which results in corrosion on a catastrophic scale. It would appear that in this case, a galvanized metal was used in combination with brass, which ultimately caused the pipe failure. To remedy this, the existing manifold had to be dug out of the ground, replaced with a new one and the system flushed through with more glycol.

The moral of the story is that failure of even the smallest components in a system can be a cause of major upheaval and expense. Here at Orangehouse we intentionally use good quality fittings and kit, as we know just how much grief it can save in the longer term! On occasion this may mean that our quotes are slightly more expensive than some of our competitors. However, our reputation rests on the quality and good service that we aim to provide in our heat pump systems.

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