Don’t let a frozen condensate pipe spoil your Christmas

Snowy Scene with heated homesWill it be a white Christmas? If it is, one aspect that won’t make the holiday period so magical will be a broken down boiler because of a frozen condensate pipe. This is one of the most common reasons for condensing boilers to suffer a winter breakdown, so it’s worth making the effort now to insulate the pipe and avoid the misery of being left without heat and hot water when you should be enjoying yourself.

The condensate pipe carries condensation from the boiler to an outside drain. When temperatures plummet this moisture can freeze and block the pipe, causing the condensate to back up and the boiler to shut down. The signs that your pipe is frozen are either a fault code or warning light on the boiler’s display or a gurgling noise coming from the boiler or pipe.

To minimise the chances of this happening, it’s a simple job to buy foam lagging material from hardware or DIY stores and fit it around the pipe. Even if you’re not the DIY type, you’ll be glad you made the effort when it’s icy cold outside. Alternatively, get a handyman to do it for you; it’s a straightforward job.

If it’s too late and the pipe has already frozen, you can defrost it by pouring warm water over it until it thaws. DON’T try to speed up the process by using hot or boiling water as this could crack the pipes and then the situation is a whole lot worse. When it’s defrosted keep the pipe protected by wrapping an old towel around it until you can get it properly lagged.

Restarting the boiler should see it come back to life but if it doesn’t or you are in any doubt, contact a Gas Safe Registered engineer for help. Other than fitting the lagging or defrosting with warm water, never attempt to fix a gas boiler yourself.

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