As high-efficiency appliances have become more reliable and affordable, they have been rapidly adopted as the preferred heating option for residential and commercial building owners. These boilers, furnaces, and hot water heaters can lower energy consumption and energy bills, but there is an acidic byproduct that, if left untreated, can corrode a building’s foundation, floors, and drainage systems.
High-efficiency appliances are relatively new on the market, which is why many contractors, engineers, and service technicians are unaware of the associated acidic condensate and how to treat it. Industry experts have quickly countered this troublesome issue by designing a preventative device called a condensate neutralizer. Neutralizers treat acidic condensate from high-efficiency appliances so the condensate can be safely discharged from the home or building.
For properties operating with high-efficiency appliances, neutralizing devices are critical to prevent corrosion of buildings, pipes, and septic systems, as well as pollution of the environment and groundwater.
How Condensate Neutralization Works
A condensate neutralizer is a reliable, purpose-built solution. It serves as a filtration device for the acidic condensate created during the combustion process in gas-fired, high-efficiency appliances.
As the appliance extracts heat from exhaust gases, the vapor in the gases condenses into a liquid condensate. This condensate has a low pH level, usually between 2.9 and 4.0 pH, which makes it corrosive to floor drains, pipes, building foundations, sewer lines, and wastewater treatment systems.
Neutralizers contain media that interacts with the condensate to lower its acidity, or raise its alkalinity.
The steps that happen during neutralization are:
- Acidic condensate leaves the high-efficiency appliance and slowly enters the neutralizer
- Condensate makes contact with the media and “soak time” begins
- The media neutralizes the condensate and raises the pH level to between 5.0 and 9.5 pH
- The neutralized condensate is safe to be released into wastewater systems
The Power of an Effective Neutralizer
Early neutralizer solutions were essentially crude and inept instruments, often just a large box filled with marble or limestone chips. Then, companies, such as JJM Alkaline Technologies®, created innovative, purpose-built neutralization solutions that were extremely effective.
JJM Alkaline Technologies® offers the broadest portfolio of neutralization solutions to safely and effectively treat acidic condensate for residential and commercial installations, such as a large boiler for a hospital or a water heater for a home. With five product lines, JJM® products are designed to suit various operating site conditions found in the heating and plumbing industries.
JJM® products use pH Power Pellets®, the proprietary neutralizing media found exclusively in JJM® products. The pH Power Pellets® are non-toxic, with magnesium oxide as the active ingredient. The media is evenly distributed throughout the neutralizer to ensure adequate surface area and “soak time” for the condensate to be treated before being released.
Condensate neutralizers are relatively inexpensive, and they can save you or your client from expensive property damage. Neutralizers are key to protecting a home or building, city infrastructure, and the environment, a critical complement to today’s high-efficiency heating appliances.
Condensate Neutralizers are Not an Optional Add-On
Condensate neutralizers should be installed in homes and buildings with high-efficiency appliances for several compelling reasons.
1) Sustains septic systems
Untreated condensate can rapidly deteriorate septic systems. This occurs as acidic condensate moves from the building or home into the sewers. When condensate comes into contact with human waste in the septic system, it reacts with the good bacteria in the waste and kills the bacteria.
Good bacteria is essential because it breaks down human waste so it can properly move through the septic system. In the absence of good bacteria, septic systems become backed up. This causes major problems for cities and towns, or for those who manage their own private septic system.
2) Protects buildings and infrastructure against expensive damage
Acidic condensate can eat through many building materials, including concrete building foundations or cast iron pipes common in older homes. Once condensate has been neutralized to a safe pH level (pH 5.0-9.5), it is no longer harmful to such materials. Homeowners and building owners can avoid costly and frustrating repairs by installing a condensate neutralizer.
3) Plumbing codes require the treatment of acidic condensate
Contractors, engineers, and service technicians have an obligation to ensure safe treatment and discharge of acidic condensate produced by high-efficiency appliances. It is against local, national, and international plumbing codes to release untreated acidic condensate into the wastewater system. This is because of the damage that untreated condensate can wreak on local drainage and septic systems.
Contractors and engineers who do not implement a treatment solution for condensate can face severe consequences if their project or job is inspected, such as fines or operational shut-down.
4) Maintains health of environment and groundwater
When untreated condensate is pumped into the ground, it contaminates and kills vegetation. This results in dead grass and plants in and around the area that condensate is released. Condensate can also pollute groundwater, which often flows into lakes, rivers, and wetlands.
JJM Alkaline Technologies® is a leading designer and manufacturer of condensate neutralization solutions used in residential and light commercial installations. You can browse our collection of acidic condensate neutralizers here.