One of the most common causes of heating failure in freezing weather is a frozen condensate pipe. Last time we had snow we were inundated with calls with the majority of them being the cause of a frozen pipe. Knowing how to unfreeze it means you won’t lose heating when the temperature drops!
All condensing boilers have a condensate pipe that sends waste water outside and down a drain. This waste water is acidic and gets produced as the boiler extracts as much energy as possible from flue gases, which turns into a small amount of acidic water as it cools. This process increases the efficiency of the boiler and is why all new boiler installations have to be condensing.
Diagnosing a Frozen Condensate pipe
You first need to diagnose that it is your condensate pipe. Your boiler should display a fault and the manual will direct you to this fault. If not your boiler could make a funny gurgling sound.
If your boiler was working well up to the point of the fault then the condensate pipe could be responsible.
How to unfreeze the condensate pipe
It’s important to find the blockage before taking any further actions so that you know you’re thawing out the right part of the pipe. This often occurs where there’s a bend or dip in the pipe.
- Unfreezing the pipe
- Applying a hot water bottle, microwaveable heating pack or warm cloth to the frozen part of the pipe.
- Pouring hot water over the frozen part of the condensate pipe using a watering can – don’t use boiling water as it could cause the plastic pipe to melt.
After unfreezing the pipe, you might need to reset the boiler to get it going again although some boilers will do this automatically, so it’s best to take a look in your boiler’s manual for the next steps.
If you’re unsure about anything please contact us and we can advise you properly.