“Simply chatting to customers about their
condensate will help to ensure that the pipework
is much less likely to freeze come wintertime, and
ultimately reduce those easily preventable call-outs”
A chilling reminder
We had a recordbreaking
long, hot summer, but winter is still coming so don’t get lured into a
false sense of security. According to the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council, the best time
for installers to check condensate pipes is while it’s still mild. Graham Collins, training support
manager at Baxi, explains why now is a good time to be thinking about frozen boiler condensates.
Few homeowners who had a
condensing boiler at the time will
ever forget the infamous ‘Beast
from the East’.
An external condensate pipe might have
withstood the rigours of that untypical
winter had it been suffi ciently insulated.
As it was, many were not installed to
manufacturer’s instructions and/or
BS 6798, and with most inadequately
insulated, they subsequently froze.
As a consequence, the condensate water
produced by the boiler could not escape
and would back up into the boiler causing
it to fail safe and lock out. This resulted in
hundreds of calls to boiler manufacturers
and heating engineers requesting call-outs
to fi x the problem.
It’s for this reason that before winter
hits is the perfect time for installers to
assess a homeowner’s condensate while
servicing the boiler, and advise if they
should consider upgrading in any way, or
reconfi guring their current setup. After
all, prevention is better than a cure.
While it’s best practice for the location
and routing of condensate pipes to be
internal rather than external, this isn’t
Therefore, when faced with such
a situation, it could be particularly
benefi cial for the installer to physically
show the homeowner where and how their
condensate pipe runs, particularly the
The ‘Beast from the East’ at the start of the year would have
caused havoc for many homeowners with a condensing boiler
sections most likely to freeze.
For example, condensate pipes located
in unheated locations – such as a garage
or loft – are also considered as external,
which is common knowledge to installers
but less so for homeowners.
It’s vital for customers to know that all
external pipework should be insulated
using appropriate waterproof and
It’s also important to remember,
as outlined by Heating and Hotwater
Industry Council, that external
condensate runs should be as short as
possible, preferably no longer than 3m in
length and must have a minimum internal
diameter of 30mm.
Any internal condensate pipe should
have a minimum internal diameter of
19mm and upsized to 30mm before
passing through the building structure to
ELECTRIC TRACE HEATING
Making homeowners aware of electric
trace heating is another possibility for
those with external condensate pipes. The
trace heater cable can be fi tted inside or
outside external pipes and is activated by
cold weather – when a minimum external
temperature of 3ºC is detected, the trace
heater cable heats up, thus preventing the
condensate pipe freezing.
Even if all of the above measures are
followed, external condensate pipework is
still susceptible to freezing in particularly
Therefore, it’s good practice for
installers to explain to homeowners how
to safely thaw out their condensate pipe
should it become frozen.
First, they should switch their boiler
off at the control panel and turn off the
electricity at the wall. The pipe can be
thawed by pouring warm (not boiling!)
water over the frozen part of the pipe.
Once the blockage has cleared they
should turn the power back on and check
the manufacturer’s website or manual for
guidance on restarting the boiler. Repeat
until the boiler works again.
QUICK AND EASY
Boilers also lose pressure, particularly in
cold weather, and the homeowner may
not realise just how quick and easy it is to
re-pressurise their system.
Take a few minutes to walk them
through the steps on how to re-pressurise
their particular boiler, and you may have
saved yourself a call-out.
Simply chatting to customers about
their condensate will help to ensure that
the pipework is much less likely to freeze
come wintertime, and ultimately reduce
those easily preventable call-outs.
Plus, providing some helpful advice
results in more trust, which will likely lead
to that all-important repeat business and
ENQUIRY NUMBER 116
44 Heating & Plumbing Monthly | OCTOBER 2018 | www.hpmmag.com