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Old 02-11-18, 01:16 PM   #1
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Default Poor Heating due to Tap Water Terror!

Remember kids - tap water and cooling systems don't mix!

Thought I'd seen off the last of the legacy problems due to the previous owner having put TAP WATER in the cooling system of my 2008 1.6Vti 207SW. Last few days of cold weather in UK showed me I hadn't.

I reckon the original problem stemmed from a leaking water pump that was not noticed or addressed by the previous owner. Loss of coolant was simply being topped up over and over again by lovely chalky south coast hard tap water.

Shortly after I purchased the car the thermostat jammed shut causing engine overheating. I replaced the thermostat and noticed that the thing that had been jamming it was a big lump of white LIMESCALE!!!

I dutifully reverse flushed out the radiator and refilled the system with Glysantin G30 diluted 50/50 with de-ionised water. Only after a good run did I then notice the water pump leak. Bum.

I replaced the water pump and all was well until the first frost of the winter a few days ago. Driving down the M3 to Hampshire I noticed the heater really wasn't keeping up and I was beginning to loose sensation in my hands. The girlfriend was grumbling from beneath her furry coat in the passenger seat so I knew I had to do something.

I reckoned it was the limescale issue coming back to haunt me. I removed the two heater hoses from the thermostat housing and used a couple of wine bottle rubber bungs (they fit very nicely ) to stop up the nozzles on the housing to minimise coolant loss.

I attached a garden hose to the outlet hose of the heater matrix. The one with the bleed nipple is the INPUT to the heater matrix so the outlet is the other one, slightly lower on the bulkhead. Reverse flushing the heater matrix was the one thing I hadn't done previously and it worked a treat. After flushing for a few minutes I cleared out what I could by blowing hard through the hose to purge any remaining water out.

It's worth noting that the normal passage of coolant through the heater matrix is not particularly fast so it's quite easy for it to silt up - a bit like a slow moving river does in nature.

So if you've never done it before then I highly recommend a reverse flush of your heater matrix before the worst of the winter arrives.

And if you ever see someone putting tap water in your cooling system be sure to kill them with your bare hands....
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Old 02-11-18, 03:00 PM   #2
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I wonder if there's a de-scaling product available?
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Old 02-11-18, 03:12 PM   #3
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Good question BiGK,

I guess I'm too scaredy cat to use the same stuff I would use in my kettle - besides, it seems to froth and bubble too much when I use it in my kettle for it to be safe in an engine cooling system.

You would also have to flush it all out VERY well afterwards in case it kept on eating away at your lovely engine over an extended time.

I don't think stuff like "Wynns Cooling System Flush" is really strong enough to deal with the big flakes of limescale I had floating around.

Am I wrong?

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Old 02-11-18, 04:37 PM   #4
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1 of the bonuses of living in scotland we can use all the tapwater we like
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Old 02-11-18, 05:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
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1 of the bonuses of living in scotland we can use all the tapwater we like
Ya big softee!
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Old 02-11-18, 11:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BiGK View Post
I wonder if there's a de-scaling product available?
Toilet Duck. I cleared a load of limescale from a Nissan Micra a few years ago. I removed the heater hoses, filled up the heater radiator with it, left it overnight, and flushed out loads of crud the next day. No ill effects from reaction with the aluminium matrix and a quick to warm up heater delivering ample heat again.

Btw, I wouldn't get paranoid about using tap water, my wifes car get a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and hard water we have in east Kent, 258k miles later the cooling system is fine, so is the heater. But then it only had a couple of leaks in its life, the matal pipe from the water pump housing to the thermostat leaked at around 185k miles, and the radiator stated weeping around 210k.
However you should never keep topping p a leak with just water, antifreeze has important additives to inhibit chemical reactions which occur when dissimilar metals are immersed in an electrolyte, a good example of such a system is a cars cooling system.

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Old 03-11-18, 11:03 AM   #7
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Toilet Duck...
...Btw, I wouldn't get paranoid about using tap water...
Roger.
Thanks Roger! I'll try toilet duck sometime. As long as it doesn't cause quacks in the cylinder head

I've used mixes of tap water and anti-freeze for donkey's years but it did look like my poor 207 had nothing but tap water in it when I picked her up. And that was a car from a dealer with the usual claim of a "Full Service History"!

Regards,
Ivor
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Old 03-11-18, 01:16 PM   #8
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my poor 207 had nothing but tap water in it when I picked her up. And that was a car from a dealer with the usual claim of a "Full Service History"!

Regards,
Ivor
Ah.... this explains alot then!! Essentially, it had a major water leak and what the owner did, rather than stump up some money to fix it, would just continually topping up with tap water

When you fill up with tap and antifreeze, there will be anti-sludge / anti-limescale inhibitors in the formulation. So that little bit with your tap water... should be fine, it will build up a little bit of sludge but how often do you change the coolant in your car? 2-3 times over the life of the car? Once the deposits in the water have precipitated, it's gone!

What your idiot of a previous car owner did was just use straight water, not only did you end up with all the limescale from the water that was continuously going into the engine but galvanic corrosion too

Guess that's lesson learnt, never buy a car with straight tap water in it... someone somewhere has been cutting corners...and that's usually because there's a bigger problem elsewhere!
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Old 03-11-18, 06:01 PM   #9
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I once worked at a Vauxhall dealership in Dover. We occasionally had cars come to us that had broken down on journeys to the UK from Spain and the South of France. The symptoms were often similar to blown head gaskets but removing the heads often revealed heads eroded enough to allow combustion gases to enter the cooling system. The customers were painfully surprised to be told that their cars needed antifreeze kept up to strength wherever they were driven, and even more so to be told they needed a new cylinder head!.

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