Freezing temperatures increase risk of boiler breakdown

The freezing of pipes is stopping the waste liquid (condensate) from draining away, leading to the "backing up" of the liquid, which will cause the boiler to fail and cut out.

Martin Egan, national property claims manager at Direct Line home insurance, said: "With the arctic weather hitting the UK, we are predicting an increase in boiler failures due to condensing drain away pipes freezing. The problem can be resolved by effective insulation of the pipe, which homeowners can do themselves and save having to call an engineer out. If the plastic pipe from the boiler is in an outside area and is not insulated, it is likely to be frozen and, if isn’t already, it is likely to as the cold weather persists."

Tips on how to thaw and protect condensing drain away pipes:

* The condensate pipe is a plastic pipe (black, white or grey), coming from the bottom of the boiler. If this pipe is less than 32mm in diameter and runs outside of the property or through a non-heated area then it should be fully insulated with waterproof lagging;
* Only attempt to thaw a condense pipe that is at ground level and which is easily accessible to you. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to thaw a condense pipe which is at height, without the assistance of a professionally trained engineer;
* A hot water bottle or heat wrap (like the ones that can be used to ease muscle discomfort) would be a suitable and safe way of thawing the condense pipe. Hold the hot water bottle or warmed heat wrap around the condensate pipe to thaw it;
* Once thawed, insulate the pipe with waterproof lagging. If it is not at ground level contact the installer in order to implement a permanent solution to prevent the condense freezing.

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