Winter Problems: How to Prevent a Frozen Condensate Pipe

Winter Problems: How to Prevent a Frozen Condensate Pipe

Those are the days when you are enjoying your morning in with your family on a cold, frosty morning. Seeing the clear blue sky, bright sunshine and lovely white frost outside while you’re nice and hot indoors makes such mornings worth all the effort… unless you wake up freezing to find that your boiler has stopped operating suddenly.

Boiler fault call outs skyrocket during the winter months as the cold sets in, causing many boiler problems.

One major common fault that occurs during the winter months is a frozen condense pipe.

Condensing boilers work in a very similar way to how conventional gas boilers do but use energy more efficiently by reusing heat from the flue gases to heat the additional water.

Why the Condensate Pipe Can Freeze

The way that condensing boilers function is by returning water at a cool temperature, the cool water meets with the hot exhaust flue in the exchanger and this is the heat that causes condensation to occur, when the temperature drops, the condensation can no longer form and will freeze, this is where the problem of having a frozen condense pipe occurs.

The main reason for this happening is because the pipe for the condensate may be outside your house if there is no room for it inside. If the temperature reaches lows of freezing point, the condensate in the pipe will become prone freezing and blocking the pipe. This can immediately prevent your boiler from working.

One of the main and obvious ways that you can check to see if your condensate pipe has frozen is that you may have no hot water or heating. Usually, there will be a fault code on the boiler’s display or an alarm will sound.

How to Fix Your Condensate Pipe

With something like a hot water bottle, heat pads or a warm jug of water (not boiling), you can try to gently unfreeze the condensation pipe. Do not use boiling hot water for example, out of a kettle as you could crack the condensate pipe. Hold down the reset button on the boiler once the pipe is unfrozen and it should begin working again. By all means, you are able to attempt to do this without professional help if the pipe is accessible at ground level, but under no circumstances should you attempt to thaw a condensate pipe at height without the assistance of a fully qualified engineer.

Now it’s time to start thinking about taking measures in preventing your condensate pipe from freezing again as the frozen condensate can back up into the boiler and rack up a very expensive repair bill for your boiler system.

How to Prevent Your Condensate Pipe From Freezing

One simple solution we recommend to prevent your condensate pipe from freezing is to route the pipe inside the house or even a more sheltered spot, making sure the pipe is insulated.

Winter Problems: How to Prevent a Frozen Condensate Pipe

Other Useful Tips:

  • Keep your eye on water pressure or water flow because the restricted water flow is the first sign of a frozen pipe. Consider leaving your tap slightly open so that water can flow. This water motion can prevent freezing, although over prolonged periods of time it will impact your water bill.
  • Make sure garden hoses are disconnected and drain outdoor pipes which can cause major problems if left connected and freeze over.
  • If you have any tubes in the garage, keep the garage doors shut to preserve heat and keep temperatures higher.
  • To guarantee that it works properly, get your boiler serviced and there are no leaks and drips that can freeze.

Hopefully, you’ve been able to solve your issue with a frozen boiler condensate pipe with the help of this useful guide and can now enjoy your heating and warm water again. We suggest that you seek guidance from a qualified gas safe engineer for a possible boiler replacement if you have followed these directions and are still having issues with your boiler.


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