How To Thaw A Frozen Boiler Condensate Pipe

If your boiler fails in a cold spell, check whether its condensate line is frozen before calling a heating contractor.

When cold weather sets in, one of the most common errors reported is that a boiler’s condensate line is frozen.

This bug will cause your boiler to shut down – but it is the boiler’s way of protecting you when it is not getting warm.

If this pipe is clogged with ice or something else, your boiler will automatically shut down for safety reasons.

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How to defrost your condensate line

  1. Find your condensate line. This is a white pipe that comes out of the wall behind your boiler and goes straight into an outside drain.
  2. Boil a kettle and let it cool for 10-15 minutes so it is warm and not boiling. It is important that you do not use boiling water. You can also use a hot water bottle or a microwave-safe heat pack.
  3. Starting from the top and working your way down, carry the water (or wrap the hot water bottle / heat pack) over the pipe until the ice in it has melted.
  4. Reset your boiler and it should work as normal.

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This will prevent your condensation pipe from freezing

Prevention is always better than cure and as the weather in the UK is becoming “more extreme” due to the effects of global climate change, we may experience longer periods of freezing temperatures.

Follow our tips to prevent your pipes from freezing in the first place.

Reduce the amount of outer pipe

The condensate line should run internally as far as possible. The less pipe there is outside, the better.

You cannot change yours by yourself; You have to pay a heating contractor to complete the work. However, if your condensate line is known to freeze, it will be well worth the time and money trying to resolve it.

The next time you have your boiler serviced, ask the technician if any improvements can be made. They can tell you whether your condensate line can be routed internally.

Add insulation

If the line cannot be connected internally, the next thing to consider is whether you are insulating all of the outward sections of the condensate line.

This is especially important when it is high up and therefore difficult to thaw with hot water.

You can insulate a pipe yourself, but unless you absolutely know what you are doing, you should consult a professional for assessment.

This will ensure that the correct material is used for the insulation (it should have a waterproof and UV resistant coating) and that it is installed in accordance with the latest regulations as per BS 6798: 2014.

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Install a larger pipe

Make the condensate drain line as large as possible. Check your manufacturer’s instructions – some recommend it should be at least 32mm or up to 40mm.

The inside diameter should not be smaller than 30 mm.

Have your heating contractor check the condensate line and install a wider pipe if necessary.

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More tips to avoid a frozen condensate pipe

If you’ve already implemented the tips above but your external condensate pipe is still freezing, here are some more changes that might help.

  • Use gravity – Pipes should fall as directly and steeply as possible. The fewer bends the better. If your pipe does not have a steep angle, the water will linger longer in the pipe and more likely to freeze. If you need to change the angle of the condensate pipe, you will need a heating specialist to do this.
  • Have a siphon trap – If you buy a new boiler, consider one with a “siphon trap” to drain off condensate. It is only available on certain models. It emits a lot of the water, which reduces the risk of freezing.
  • Install a “trace” system – If you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing for several days, ask your installer about trace systems. This is an electrical element that is glued to the pipe and heats it up when the outside temperature drops to +5 ° C. It is designed to protect pipes down to -20 ° C and is probably the only guaranteed way to prevent freezing. Only a technician registered with Gas Safe can install it.
  • Reduce exposure – Is your condensate line exposed to the weather? Is it on a wall that gets sun Often times, if your condensate pipe is black and is on a wall that is getting sun, it can hold enough heat to prevent it from freezing. If not, consider getting a heating professional to insulate the pipe or install a trace heating system.

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