What you need to know about condensate pipes

Modern condensing boilers need a way of disposing of the condensate that is produced when they are in operation. This is usually in the form of a condensate pipe that channels the water away to a drain.

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Since 2007 all new boiler in the UK have had to be condensing types – http://www.nef.org.uk/knowledge-hub/view/condensing-boilers. These work by condensing the water vapour produced when they are running back into liquid form. This recovers heat and saves fuel, but as a by-product it produces condensate – basically water, although slightly acidic – which needs to be disposed of.

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Pipes piping

The condensate needs to be piped away to a drain. This is usually done via a plastic pipe that comes out of the bottom of the boiler. In most cases this will go through the wall to an outside drain. However, in some cases, where the boiler is in a kitchen for example, it can be run inside and out through an existing drain such as under the sink or behind a washing machine.

One of the drawbacks of running the condensate pipe outside is that in cold weather the liquid – because it’s relatively cool – can freeze up. This means the pipe becomes blocked and when this happens the boiler stops working, usually displaying an error code.

Coping with a frozen condensate pipe

Companies like http://www.hprservicesltd.com/gloucester-boilers/boiler-service-gloucester/ offering boiler service in Gloucester often get called out to deal with problems caused by frozen condensate pipes. However, if you understand the problem you can probably fix it yourself.

If the pipe is easily accessible outside the house try to identify the part that is frozen – it should feel colder. Place an old cloth or towel over this section of the pipe and carefully pour warm water over it. Don’t use boiling water from the kettle as this could crack the pipe. Once defrosted you should hear the water trickle out into the drain, you can then try to restart your boiler.

Should you have a condensate pipe that is in an exposed position and freezes regularly, you should consider insulating it with some waterproof lagging. Alternatively, look at installing a trace heating system. This uses a low-voltage electric current passed through a cable attached to the pipe in order to gently warm it and prevent it from freezing up in cold weather.