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Don’t let central heating systems get frostbite this winter

22nd December 2011
Don’t let central heating systems get frostbite this winter

Frozen condensate pipes were a huge problem last year and many households were caught out during the severe cold weather spell – which in some areas went down to minus 20°C.

This resulted in a large increase in the number of calls to boiler manufacturers and heating installers from householders with condensing (high efficiency) boilers where the condensate drainage pipe had frozen and become blocked with ice. This then causes the condensate to ‘back up’ into the boiler and can cause a complete shutdown of the central heating system.

In the vast majority of cases such problems occur where the condensate drainage pipe is located outside. British Standards, Building Regulations and boiler manufacturers’ installation instructions currently allow condensate drainage pipes to be located either internally or externally, or a combination of these.

The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) has therefore issued official guidance for householders on what to do if a boiler condensate drainage pipe has frozen - providing they feel competent to take the actions described. This guidance can be found at:

Local MP, Gordon Henderson, has welcomed the publication of this guidance even though the weather so far this winter has not been as harsh as last year. Mr Henderson said:

“For those homes with high-efficiency condensing boilers it is worth spending a few minutes to check whether the system is potentially at risk from a frozen condensate pipe. Downloading the guidance from the HHIC website could prevent hours of misery in a home with no heating and save on repair bills too. A copy of the advice is also available from my office.”

HHIC’s Deputy Director Chris Yates said:

“December temperatures have fallen every year for the last five years. Winter 2010 was the coldest spell since 1979 with the chilliest December on record. Our changing climate has put additional pressures on householders heating systems. That is why HHIC is urging households to check their heating systems before winter really kicks in.”

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