At this time of year (when the weather is particularly horrid) the freezing conditions can end up having a negative effect on the performance of your boiler.

If your boiler starts developing random faults which are preventing your central heating from operating as it normally does, then it may be worth investigating to see if your system is being affected by a frozen condensate pipe.

Here’s our troubleshooting guide to dealing with a frozen condensate pipe.

  • Diagnosis
    First things first you need to establish if the issue actually isolated to your condensate pipe. If your condensate pipe is frozen then your boiler will likely exhibit either some flashing lights or some form of fault code  – it’s advisable to check the manufacturer guidance that will have been supplied with your boiler to see if the code relates to a frozen pipe problem. Other tell tell signs include the emergence of a “slurping” sound when your boiler is switched on.
  • Reset Boiler
    Before jumping the gun, it is worth resetting your boiler to see if the issue that was present has now resolved itself. If the pipe was frozen but has since thawed then the errors present on your boilers dashboard may no longer be applicable. Try resetting your boiler – if the fault indicators are still present then it’s time to try and address the issue itself.
  • Locate external pipe (outside)
    The condensate pipe removes water from the boiler. As such you will likely find a white or grey plastic pipe emanating from the location of your boiler to the outside wall of the property. In some installations the amount of pipework that runs external to the property can be fairly substantial. As a large amount of the pipe is exposed to the outside conditions,  when the weather turns cold the pipe may get blocked when any water within the pipe freezes and turns to ice. Sometimes it will be obvious that the pipe is frozen however in other cases the symptoms will be more subtle, hidden away within the pipe itself.
  • Time to thaw
    The easiest way to deal with a frozen condensate pipe is to put it in contact with warm water. A couple of jugs of warm water poured over the exterior of the pipework is a great remedy. Increasing the temperature within the pipe can cause the ice blockage to subside. If you don;t have a jug then you could also try a warm flannel or hot water bottle. It’s important that you refrain from using boiling water, as although this will likely melt the ice quicker, you may cause more damage as the extreme contrast in temperatures may cause the plastic pipe to crack.

  • Reset Boiler (again!)
    With the frozen blockage hopefully now dealt with, it should now be a simple matter of returning to your boiler and hitting the reset button. If the fault signals are still present then it may be worth consulting your boiler instructions or contacting the manufacturer.
  • Long term fix
    If your heating system continues to repeatedly suffer from a frozen condensate pipe then it may be worth contacting a qualified gas safe heating engineer who will be able to advise as to how to better insulate your exterior pipework. This should help reduce the chances of frozen water building up within the pipe).