Frozen Condensate Waste Pipe

A condensate waste pipe on a boiler vents moisture from the boiler to the outside. The condensate is the pipe that runs from the bottom of a boiler through the external wall to the outside, the pipe will either have a plastic cover over it on the outside wall or it will just be a copper pipe running down your outside wall.

In the cold winter months the condensate waste pipe can become frozen, the moisture from the boiler will freeze within the condensate pipe. Even if your condensate pipe has been insulated it can still freeze in cold spells. A frozen condensate pipe results in the boiler shutting down completely leaving you with no heat or hot water! Frozen condensate pipes are a huge problem during the winter when you need your heat and hot water the most! The frozen condensate pipe problem is not related to any particular type or brand of boiler, frozen condensate can occur on any boiler that uses a condensate pipe in order to vent moisture from the boiler to the external environment.

Signs Of A Frozen Condensate Pipe

  • The boiler shuts off completely leaving you with no heat or hot water on a very cold day
  • You can hear a bubbling sound coming from the boiler or pipes
  • A warning light appears on the boiler indicating there is a frozen pipe

How To Thaw A Frozen Condensate Pipe
First and foremost we would advise that you ask a qualified boiler maintenance engineer to rectify your frozen condensate. Although if you would like to attempt to thaw your frozen condensate pipe yourself below we have highlighted several methods you can try in order to thaw your condensate pipe.

  • Wrap towels around your condensate pipe outside in order to insulate the pipe protecting it from the elements
  • Place a hot water bottle around the frozen condensate pipe this will slowly defrost the pipe
  • Pour warm water directly over the condensate pipe. (Ensure the water is warm and not frozen). Boiling water can not only scald your hands but it can cause the pipe to crack, which will leave you with further problems.
  • Do not disconned the frozen condensate pipe!

If your condensate pipe comes out the outside wall high up then it may be difficult for you to thaw the condensate pipe. Our advice would be to first and foremost ask a professional heating maintenance engineer to thaw the condensate! If this is not possible and you feel comfortable doing so, use a ladder to reach the condensate pipe on your outside wall with a spotter holding the ladder and use the above methods in order to attempt to thaw your condensate pipe. Please note we do not advise this course of action as the weather will be cold, possibly windy and icy not good conditions to be climbing ladders.