Frozen condensate pipes can cause real problems for your boiler, especially during the cold winter months. So what is a condensate pipe, how exactly do they work as part of our central heating systems, and what should we do if they do freeze?
At Ideal Heating, we aim to keep all of our customers warm, comfortable and secure as the cold weather draws in. In this blog, we’ll share helpful tips on how to help keep your boiler healthy all through the winter by protecting these important elements of your central heating.
What is a Condensate Pipe?
As modern condensing boilers work to heat our homes they produce excess water, which is called condensate. This happens when the boiler is burning through fuel, which releases carbon dioxide and creates water vapour. This waste water needs to be safely disposed of, which is where the condensate pipe comes into play.
How Does a Condensate Pipe Work?
To put it simply, a condensate pipe gets rid of any waste water that’s produced by our boilers, transferring it to a drain outside your home. While your boiler is working, it can produce a surprisingly large amount of this water — around two to three litres every hour.
If your condensate pipe becomes blocked and condensate can’t be disposed of, this will send a signal to your boiler to prevent it working for safety reasons. If this happens, your boiler may display a fault code such as L2 or F2, or you may hear a gurgling noise coming from your boiler. These could be signs that your condensate pipe is frozen, but thankfully there’s no need to panic.
Defrosting a Frozen Condensate Pipe
A frozen condensate pipe is a relatively common problem when temperatures drop below freezing, and can be easily resolved if you follow these simple steps:
- Locate your condensate pipe, which runs from the bottom of your boiler. It’s usually a white or grey plastic pipe that runs through the wall and outside the property for part of its length.
- Remove any insulation that is fitted to the pipe work.
- Hold a hot water bottle or microwavable heat pad around the pipe work.
- You could also pour tepid water over any section of the pipe that’s frozen. It’s important that you don’t use boiling water, as this may crack the pipe.
- To help prevent any further freezing, refit the insulation sleeves onto your pipe.
- Once you have cleared the blockage from the condensate pipe, press the restart button on your boiler.
Please take care if your condensate pipe is not easily reached from ground level, and do not put yourself at any undue risk. If you have any doubts or concerns, seek assistance from a Gas Safe engineer. It’s also important to be careful when pouring water onto a path or walkway, as this may freeze and cause a slip hazard.
For a visual guide, here’s a video that shows how to defrost a frozen condensate pipe: