It's March 2018 and Britian is facing a cold spell that has brought snow and cold weather. It has brought along with it many boiler problems affecting households across the UK. Frozen condensate pipes can be the cause of a boiler breakdown. Trustworth Plumbing has been inundated with calls at the over the past couple of days. Please read our article on boiler breakdowns in cold weather. Condensing boilers have the attribute of having a high effciency. If you have expeirenced a boiler breakdown in London call us on 020 8670 4443 or our 24-hour boiler emergency call out number on 07951538977.
Does the location of your condensate pipe have a direct relation to boiler breakdown problems?
Yes, if the drainage pipe is partially located externally to your building, then it is a factor.
A long time period of exposure to the cold weather causes condense to freeze. This hinders your boiler from opertating correctly. As you know Trustworth Plumbing is all about safety. So it is refreshing to know that modern boilers have inbuilt safety features. They self-disable its functionality until the problem has been fixed by a fully qialified gas safe engineer.
What is the regulation for the location of condensate pipes?
The leading boiler manufacturers and UK gas regulation standards allow for these condensate drainage pipes to have an internal or external (outside the property) location. Sometimes they have a both an internal and external location. Although the guidelines and instructions state how to professionally install condensate pipework, there are factors like exteme cold weather conditions that are hard to prevent freezing. So the question is - Should there be a change to installation guidelines for condesate drainage pipes?
So what should you do if think that your boiler's condensate pipe is frozen? It's simple. Call a trusted local gas safe engineer. If you are struggling to find a trusted expert engineer then visit the Gas Safety Register website. Trustworth Plumbing is on the Gas Safe Register (https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk). Our official registration number (301783). You should never attempt to fix or play about with any part of your boiler or pipework. That includes trying to disconnect anything. Safety is always key.
Lots of gas boilers around the UK are suddenly experiencing a breakdown without much warning.
So how would you know that your condensate pipe is frozen and is the cause of a boiler breakdown?
Well, firstly you have to know what the pipe in question looks like? It is a white or grey coloured plastic pipe that comes from the bottom section of your boiler.
So what are the signs that could mean your condensate drainage pipe is frozen?
Has the weather been really cold (freezing temperatures) for a prolonged period of time (days, weeks etc)
If the pipe runs through the wall of your property, then onto the outside and the pipe diamater has not been lengthened; then it is something to note down. Also does the pipe run through areas that have no heating provision like a loft or garage? If so then it is another important factor to consider.
Do you see a fault code (only applicable to digital boilers), flashing lights, hear alarms or weird noises coming from your boiler? Always read your manual that came with your boiler to see corresponding fault codes.
Is it possible to find the location of the blockage?
In some cases, yes. There are some parts of the pipe that will have most exposure to the cold weather. Maybe the open end of a pipe at the elbow or end located outside could be the issue. Sometimes there is a 'dip' that provides a place for condensate to collect.
Sometimes people can attempt to thaw a frozen pipe. Remember safety is always key. So if the pipe is not easi;y accessible, then you should never attempt to thaw it.
To thaw you should do one of the following:
- Soak old clothing or cloths in warm water
- Fill up your hot water bottle
- Heat up your microwavable heating backs
- boil your kettle
Yes, you may have guessed it but the key is to apply heat in one of the above methods to the areas closest to where you think the blockage is. Most people will find boiling their kettle and pouring hot water is the easiest and quickest way. However, any spillages in frezezing tempatures can cause ice to form on the ground. This is danageous as you can slip on that newly formed ice and cause injury to yourself. The best way to apply the water is with a watering can something that reduces spillage. After you have done that then it is time to safely reset your boiler. Please refer to your boiler manual for this. Most modern boilers will automatically re-ignite itself. If this does not work then it is time to call a trusted gas safe engineer. Call Trustworth Plumbing's 24 hour biler emergency team on 07951538977.