Households urged to take steps to ‘prevent’ frozen pipes this winter

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If your boiler has stopped working, it may be because the condensate pipe has frozen. This pipe leads waste water away from the boiler and down a drain. According to skillstg.co.uk, most are fitted internally but, in some cases, they have to be fitted outside, which can cause the pipe to freeze. The experts have shared the best way to thaw this pipe as well as prevent it from freezing in the first place.

The experts explained: “Find your condensate pipe. A white pipe should protrude from the wall portion located directly behind your boiler.

“You’ll know you have the right pipe if it runs right out from the boiler to an exterior drain. Boil your kettle and let it cool for approximately 15 minutes, you want the water to be warm rather than boiling hot.

“Starting at the top of the kettle and making your way down the pipe, pour the warm water over your frozen condensate pipe until the ice blocking it has thawed.

“Reset your boiler. Wait a few minutes and check that it is working properly. If you have fully thawed your frozen condensate pipe, everything should be working as normal.”

The best scenario is to “prevent” pipes from freezing in the first place, because if they go unnoticed, they can cause serious “damage” to a home.

The best way to lower chances of dealing with a frozen condensate pipe is to install a pipe that is as large as possible.

The experts said: “Before doing this, you should take a look at the manufacturer’s instructions to see what they recommend. 

“Usually, manufacturers will recommend pipes in the range of 32 to 40mm, but it is possible to have an engineer install a thicker pipe if you have to deal with extremely cool temperatures, where thinner pipes might not cut it.”

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Insulating pipes can also help to prevent them from freezing. Insulating them will keep them warmer, which means they’ll be far less likely to end up frozen.

In order to insulate the boiler condensate pipe, simply wrap it with foam pipe insulation and secure it with strong tape or cable ties.

“It stands to reason that the less condensate pipe you have outside your home, the less opportunity there is for your pipes to freeze over. 

“So, if it is possible for you to do so, you might want to move the pipes to minimise exposure to the elements. Usually, you will need to call a heating engineer to help you with this.”

If you are in the process of purchasing a new boiler, try to choose one that features a siphon trap. The expert said this type of condensate release flushes out the water in one go.

This lowers the risk of freezing. Most boilers release the water in long drawn-out drips, meaning more water is present for longer, making it more likely that a freeze will occur.

A spokesperson from skillets.co.uk commented: “A frozen condensate pipe is usually the result of ice or other debris getting into the pipe and freezing, thus blocking it so that it cannot do its job. 

“When your condensate pipe cannot do its job, your boiler shuts down to ensure you and your family are kept safe. However, you will need to get the boiler up and running again so that your family can stay warm. 

“Using this guide, you can thaw frozen condensate pipes with a few changes and ingenuity and prevent them from freezing again.”

If you have pipes and tanks in unheated loft spaces, open the hatch during icy weather to allow warm air from downstairs to rise and keep the chill away.

British Gas recommended opening cupboards which have pipes or tanks in too, allowing warm air to circulate. They added: “When it’s frosty outside, have the heating set for different times of the day – even if no one is home.

“Or, keep the heating on a constant low temperature and increase as needed when you are home.” 

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