Unfreezing Your Condensate Pipe

The freezing temperatures across the UK in recent weeks have caused many peoples boilers to stop functioning correctly. However, for almost half the cases we treated, the issue was caused by a frozen condensate pipe.

The condensate pipe is the main discharge pipe from your boiler and, if it freezes, it can stop your boiler working altogether. However it’s really simple to fix.

To ensure you are prepared for the next drop in temperature we have created an easy to follow guide on how to unfreeze your condensate pipe effectively and safely.

How to check if your condensate is frozen

First of all you should check if your pipe is definitely frozen before you start the thawing process. Some of the symptoms include error codes or warning lights flashing on your boiler.

But a surefire way to test, is to reset your boiler to see if it fires up. If it doesn’t and the boiler starts to make a gurgling sound then it is almost certainly the condensate pipe that is frozen.

Locating the pipe

The condensate pipe is the main discharge point pipe from your boiler. This is usually white, black or grey, and runs outdoors, exactly where the boiler is secured inside. It’s position means it’s perfectly exposed to extreme conditions which can cause it to freeze.

Thawing the frozen pipe

The pipe usually freezes at the most exposed point. This could be at the open end of the pipe or in a bend where the condensate can store itself.

One of the most effective ways of thawing the pipe is by pouring warm water over it. You will need to use a few jugs of water to ensure it is fully defrosted. It is vitally important not to use boiling water as this can cause further damage to the pipe and the boiler.

The water should quickly defrost the pipe allowing the system to free up and work as normal. Once the pipe is defrosted you should reset your boiler using the manual instructions.

What do if you regularly experience frozen condensate pipes  

If this is a regular occurance you should call a qualified Gas Safety Engineer to take a look at the problem. It is probably a case of adding more insulation to the exposed sections of the pipe.

If you are wanting a further explanation as to how you can solve the problem of a frozen condensate pipe, you can watch our step by step video here:

Preventing your condensate pipe from freezing

One of the cheapest ways to prevent your condensate pipe from freezing next winter is to buy a length of insulating foam to clad your pipe. This will provide extra insulation in the areas where the pipe is most exposed.

Also, once the extreme weather hits, we recommend turning up your boiler to the maximum setting and leave this on continuously. Although this may seem more expensive it will help prevent the build up of ice which will reduce the chance of the pipe freezing in the first place.