How to fix a Frozen Condensate Pipe
It may be brought to your attention that your boiler condensate pipe is at risk of freezing due to the continuous and prolonged exposure to extremely cold weather.
Frozen pipes could affect your boiler by causing it to breakdown during the time you need it most.
We advise that you power flush your system as the weather begins to turn. Our Engineers can also advise you on the best freeze prevention products to use for added protection for the cold periods. Our Engineers also advise that you should operate your boiler on higher flow temperatures during cold spells. This is very important because it helps to reduce the freezing during the cold seasons. This can be accomplished by means of boiler thermostat which when turned to a high setting can help regulate the temperature of your condensate pipes. When this operation happens, the radiator surfaces tend to be hotter than it should be and this further reduces the efficiency of the boiler.
Now let us take a good look at what can be done to resolve the problem of freezing of your pipes.
- Locate the blockage
Usually, pipes freeze when there is a dramatic drop in temperature. This could include
the different parts of the pipe such as the open end, the bend, the pipe elbow or a dip in the pipe. These are areas where condensation is likely to gather and when the temperature drops these areas are likely to freeze.
- Thaw the frozen pipe
The condensate in the pipe can be thawed by applying a hot water to the outside of the pipe. You can also thaw the pipe by means of microwave heat packs or a hot water bottle careful placed around the blockage. It is important that as a precaution you do not apply hot water to the condensate if your condensate pipes are not easily accessible through the ground level. In order not to put yourself into unnecessary risk it is important that you stay away. It is best to call experienced help in case of any problem such as a well trained professional heating engineer. It is also important that you know that if you pour water onto the pipe, this can flow to the ground and freeze which could make you or someone else slip and fall.
- Stop reset and restart
After the blockage in the pipe has been removed, your boiler needs to be reset. Instructions on how to restart your specific boiler can be found in the instructions manual. Sometimes this involves only resting by pressing just a button on the front of the boiler or even isolating the electrical supply going to the boiler and then putting it back on.
Connecting an internal pipe (condensate) discharge connection
In the process, the condensate should be connected in such a manner that it goes in the internal gravity discharge point. This involves an internal soil stack method. External pipes which are from your sink wastes or your washing machines’ outlets should be connected in such a way that it has a minimum internal diameter of 30mm of, there should be resistant and insulated UV waterproof material, and it should be terminated just below the grid but above the water line and a suitable drain should be fitted. Wastes pipes should also be cut at a 45 degrees angle where it then terminates in the grid which then helps to reduce the event of pipe freezing.
Whenever it is not possible for a boiler condensate discharge pipe the internal gravity discharge point, the installer should make use of a condensate pump which is connected to a suitable internal connection such as an internal soil stack which is by far the most preferred method. The internal kitchen waste pipes such as the sink or the basin, bath or shower waste can also be applied upon.
Already existing installations
When you get your boiler serviced, it is the duty of the engineer to check the boiler instructions properly especially those ones that have external condensate drains to ensure that they can be cut internally or made to run more efficiently in accordance with the latest available guidance. The owner of the home should also be advised of any work that’s required.
Internal pipes routed in unheated space
These condensate discharge pipes located in places unheated such as a garage should be insulated to would prevent it from freezing.
Condensate pipe discharge termination
The internal condensate discharge pipes should have a minimum of about 19mm ID plastic pipe in line with the instruction from the manufacturer and this should be done a minimum of about 45mm per meter set away from the boiler which should be done in such a way that the shortest possible route to the termination point is used.
In order to decrease the risk of freezing in the extremely low-temperature conditions, as mentioned an internal gravity discharge point is so required. This includes an internal soil stack as the preferred method and then the internal kitchen, utilities or a bathroom waste pipe (sink, bath or shower, basin) all these should be adopted wherever possible.
Importance of the condensate pumps
Condensate can also be removed from the piping by means of a condensate pump which shows just how important it is in the piping system. The condensate pump should be of the recommended specification as recommended by the boiler or the manufacturer. This is so as to minimize the risk of piping freezing out when there is below zero temperatures. One important method for carrying out the termination of the boiler condensate pump to a water discharge point should be used, and this includes the preferred method of an internal soil stack, utility room or bathroom, waste pipes such as that in sinks, basin, shower wastes, and kitchen too.
Use of an external connection
An external boiler drain (Condensate) connection should be fitted if it is noticed that the Internal gravity of the pump connection is very difficult and impractical to be installed
The pipework which should be a minimum of 19mm ID with regards the manufacturer instructions and the discharge pipe should be run by means of a standard drainpipe material. The popular drain pipe materials which come to mind includes the polyvinylchloride (PVC), the polypropylene and other Polyvinyls such as the unplasticized and the chlorinated polyvinyl chloride.
It is important for you as the drainage engineer to note that the fixing centers for the brackets should have a maximum or about 300mm if you want to use flexible pipe and also 500mm for solid pipe and the recommendations for the manufacturer should be followed. Standard fixing procedures shows that condensate pipes should first be run as far internally as possible before externally. The diameter of the pipe should also be increased as much as 30mm ID minimum before it is passed through the wall. The angle of the pipe should also be calibrated to with 3 degrees to slope downwards as it also passed through the wall to assist the maintenance of the velocity of the condensate leaving the building.
External pipes should be fixed to use the most direct route for discharge, and no horizontal sections which may support condensate should collect. The external pipes maximum should be about 3 meters.
We hope you find this guide useful as you plan on how to fix your condensate pipe if need be which would enable you to get back to enjoying a nice warm home.