Your guide to thawing a condensate pipe on a frozen boiler

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A frozen boiler is a big danger posed by winter in the UK. The problem is thatwe are never quite sure in the UK whether we are going to have a cold or a mild winter.

A frozen boiler is a big danger posed by winter in the UK. The problem is thatwe are never quite sure in the UK whether we are going to have a cold or a mild winter, so we never prepare for them. The biggest problem is the condensate pipe. If your boiler freezes, this tends to be the heart of the problem. A blocked condensate pipe can leave you without any heat at all.

Electrical Heating Supplies always recommends finding a professional engineer to help you with this. Thawing the pipe yourself can lead to cracking and splintering, which is far more expensive to repair. If you feel you can do it yourself, you do it at your own risk.

What is the Condensate Pipe? : Let us begin by discussing what part of a heater the condensate pipe is. Most modern electric heaters have this pipe, which helps transport water away from the boiler itself. The boiler takes away the energy from the flue gasses to increase efficiency. This waste gas cools and leaves some acidic water behind. The condensate pipe is responsible for taking this acidic water to the drain.

You have to check that your boiler actually has one of these pipes. Not all modern electric boilers have them. These pipes are about 2cm wide, white, and plastic. If the rest of the pipes are metal, this is almost certainly the condensate pipe.

As a final check, see if the pipe runs into the drain. If it does, you have a condensate pipe.

Why Does the Condensate Pipe Freeze? : Simple! It is the only part of the boiler outside your home. It cannot drain the water without exposing itself to the outside elements. Acidic water is prone to freezing. When it freezes, the pipe is blocked because the water from the boiler continues to be sent down the pipe. Luckily, modern boilers have a special automatic switch to turn everything off to prevent the entire system becoming flooded.

How Do You Thaw the Pipe? : You have two possible ways of thawing the pipe. To start with, you can get some hot water and apply it to the outside of the pipe. The water should never be boiling or it can cause the material to crack. Warm water works best. Drop the water across the frozen section slowly and deliberately.

Another option is to use a heat wrap or hot water bottle. Wrap it around the pipe and hold it. The water should begin to flow again.

If you do not feel confident in your ability to do this, call a professional. The treatment sounds simple, but it is easy to go wrong. If the water is slightly too hot, you could damage the pipe beyond repair. Always start with lukewarm water and work your way upwards.

Overall, you cannot do much about this problem. It is impossible to prevent completely because the pipe is exposed to the cold air. Thankfully, UK winters are not as long as they used to be. They can often unfreeze themselves as quickly as they freeze themselves, so it is not a problem to fret over.