By JR | Blog
Winter is finally revving up! Now we have some chillier temperatures and the potential for snow, it makes sense to safeguard your home against common cold-weather plumbing problems. Here are our top tips on preventing or dealing with frozen or burst pipes.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Preventing the problem of frozen or burst pipes is much easier and cheaper than fixing it once it happens. Follow these tips for a stress-free winter season:
Have the boiler and central heating system serviced at least once a year by a qualified and registered Gas Safe engineer, such as our engineers.
Know how to turn your water supply off. The stopcock is usually located under the kitchen sink, but it is sometimes elsewhere, such as in the hallway.
Check all the water taps in your home and fix any that are dripping. This has the added bonus of also saving you money!
Drain and turn off any external taps.
Keep your home warm – read our advice on this.
What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze
If you think a pipe has frozen:
Turn off your water supply. Locate your stopcock and turn it clockwise to turn off the water.
Turn all the cold taps in the house ON. This will allow the water to escape when it starts to thaw.
Warm the frozen pipe. Starting at the end nearest the tap, use a hot water bottle wrapped in a tea towel, pushed against the pipe to thaw it. Alternatively, use a hairdryer on the low setting, but always ensure you keep the hairdryer a safe distance from the defrosting pipe.
Once the frozen pipe has thawed out, check there are no leaks. Do this by taking some dry kitchen paper towel and wiping it along the pipe. If there are no wet patches on the kitchen paper, you can turn the water supply back on.
If you suspect a leak, do not turn your water back on. Call out a certified plumbing specialist such as ourselves.
If Your Boiler Stops Working
When temperatures drop to freezing and remain there for a day or two, some boilers may suffer from a frozen condense pipe. This generally only happens to boilers less than 15 years old but not the most recent modern types.
If your boiler stops working or tries to start and locks out, and your condense pipe (the white plastic pipe that connects the boiler to a drain) is 22mm in diameter and outside, the condense pipe may be frozen.
To thaw it out, pour warm water (NOT boiling water) on the frozen pipe, use a hot water bottle or buy a heat wrap (that you might use to treat a muscle injury) to thaw the pipe out.
Once your boiler is working again, contact your installer to check everything is working properly and for advice on preventing the problem in future.
You can read more about condense pipes and how to treat them in our condense pipes blog.
Contact our team on 020 8462 8822 for specific advice on your boiler, to arrange a boiler service or for any heating or plumbing problems.
By JR | Blog
Identify A Frozen Condense Pipe
If temperatures drop to freezing and remain there for a day or two, some boilers may suffer from a frozen condense pipe. This is likely to be the case if your boiler has stopped working and:
The outside temperature is below freezing and has been for 24 hours or more.
The condense pipe from your boiler (the white plastic pipe that connects the boiler to a drain or soak-away) is outside.
The external condense pipe is 22mm in diameter (though it can also happen with bigger pipes in very cold weather).
The boiler tries to start but quickly stops or locks-out.
How To Thaw The Pipe
Use one of these methods to safely thaw your condense pipe:
Pour warm water on the frozen condense pipe. However, do not attempt this if the condense pipe is located above ground level, and do not use boiling water, only warm water.
Put a hot water bottle onto the affected pipe.
Get a heat wrap and wrap it around the condense pipe. These are usually used to treat muscle injuries and you can buy one from your local pharmacy.
Once your boiler is running again, contact your installer to check it is all working correctly. They can also advise you on insulating the pipe to prevent this problem occurring again.
The following video explains in more detail:
Does My Boiler Have A Condense Pipe?
Boilers older than 15 years usually do not have a condense drain pipe.
A recent, modern boiler will either not have an external condense pipe or the external pipe will be 25mm (1 inch) or more in diameter, meaning it’s less likely to freeze.
If you’re not sure, contact us and we can advise you.
A Solution For Preventing Frozen Condense Pipes
Boiler manufacturer Worcester Bosch has launched its CondenseSure product, which protects your external condense pipe and prevents it from freezing. We can fit one of these for you. Give us a call to arrange it.
If you would like help to ensure your heating system is working properly or to fix your frozen condense pipe, our team of heating and plumbing engineers are available to help. Call us 020 8462 8822 or request a callback to arrange a visit.