So far this autumn, the weather has been mild, but as winter arrives, so will falling temperatures.
The Heating and Hot Water Industry Council (HHIC) has published a new set of guidelines setting out the steps to take when the condensate pipe from a condensing boiler freezes during a prolonged period of very cold weather.
Familiarise yourself with the steps to take and pass on the information to your customers so that they know what to do when the thermometer falls.
British Standards, Building Regulations and boiler manufacturers’ installation instructions allow condensate discharge pipes to run either internally or externally (or a combination of both).
When the condensate drainage pipe runs externally, there’s a risk the pipe may freeze.
A blocked pipe will trigger the boiler to shut down. The boiler will usually display a ‘fault code’ on its digital display.
It is important to confirm that freezing is the cause of the problem before taking any remedial action.
Here are Some Steps to Take to Thaw the Pipe and Free the Blockage:
1: Locate the blockage
The location of the blockage needs to be identified before further action is taken. Blockages are likely to occur at the most exposed point, such as the end of the pipe, or where there is some obstruction to flow, such as a bend or elbow or a dip in the pipe, where condensate might collect.
2: Thaw the frozen pipe
Pour warm water, or apply a hot water bottle or cloths soaked in warm water to the exterior of the pipe once you’ve located the frozen area. DO NOT USE BOILING WATER.
3. Re-set/re-start the boiler.
Once the blockage has cleared consult the boiler operating instruction, to clear the fault code/alarm and re-start the boiler.
When the pipe is successfully thawed and the boiler re-started, the following actions may help prevent re-freezing if the severe weather continues.
(a) If the external pipe is not already lagged it should be insulated with suitable water-proof and weather-proof lagging.
(b) During the cold spell it may help to run the heating system with the boiler thermostat (NB not the room thermostat) set to maximum. Turn back to the normal setting once the cold spell is over.
(c) It may also help to temporarily set the central heating timer/room thermostat controls to “continuous” (24hr) mode, setting the room thermostat overnight to around 15o C.
Again, return to normal settings once the cold spell is over.
To download the HHIC information sheet, please click here.