Keep your condensing boiler working through winter
Winter can bring problems for your condensing boiler, as they can sometimes shut down if their condensate pipes freeze – leaving your home without heating when you need it most.
These high efficiency gas boilers are great for your wallet and home alike. They heat your home and water, the boiler extracts more energy from gas as its being burned, saving you money.
Why they can freeze?
By recycling heat from the flue gases to heat additional water the condensing or ‘condensate’ boilers are more efficient than conventional gas boilers
As the boiler combusts, it produces water vapour that is cooled to leave waste water ‘condensate’. Your homes waste water system is where this condensate is disposed through.
The outlet pipe for the boiler is sometimes fitted to the outside of your home. When cold temperatures arise this can freeze the condensate and cause a blockage that can harm your boiler.
How to tell if it's frozen
The initial sign that the boiler is not working is when you have no hot water or heating. On the boilers display there may be a fault code or an alarm may sound. Additional indicators will be found in the boiler’s operating manual.
What to do if it's frozen
Here’s how to thaw the pipes and free the blockage in a safe and secure manner:
1. Find the source of the blockage – Usually this will be at the most exposed point or at a bend or dip in the pipe.
2. How to thaw the frozen pipe: Turn off your water at the mains and thaw the pipe out slowly by using a source of heat like a hot water bottle at the source of the blockage. Do not pour boiling water directly onto the pipe.
3. Now restart the boiler by following the instructions in your boilers manual.
How to stop it from freezing
Below you will find a list of prevention measures to stop your condensate pipe from freezing in cold weather.
- Use weather proof insulation to protect the pipe from the cold
- To keep the condensate warm, keep your heating at a lower temperature throughout the night. This may use more energy during the night but will be quicker at heating up your home in the morning.
- To reduce the amount of condensate, it is possible to set your boiler thermostat to a higher temperature. This is only recommended if you have under floor heating. Be careful if you have radiators, as they will get very hot and will use more energy.
Remember to return your settings to normal when the cold spell is finished.
These steps may not prevent freezing in severe weather. If you want more detailed guidance, this will be available from your experienced installer or service engineer.
Gas boiler and central heating protection, including an annual boiler service, is available with Home Membership from the AA.