It's inevitable that, with the onset of cold weather, the amount of calls that go out to plumbers and heating engineers increases markedly.
During the winter months, the heating is usually on non-stop, putting extra stress on the system and can cause breakdowns, especially if the system has not undergone maintenance for a long time.
One of the common reason for heating engineer call-outs is when the condensate drainage pipe on condensing boilers freezes. The pipe can become blocked with ice, causing the boiler to shutdown and stop working - resulting in a freezing cold nightmare for the householders. This problem often occurs when part of this pipe is located outside of the building and is therefore more susceptible to low temperatures.
The Heating and Hot Water Industry Council (HHIC) gives the following advice to help minimise the chances of condensate pipes from freezing:
• A condensate pipe should not run outside for any more than 3 metres. Pipes running outside must have a minimum internal diameter of 30mm and insulated sufficiently with weatherproof insulation. All pipework should fall no less than 2.5 degrees and fittings and bends should be kept to an absolute minimum.
• In instances where the pipe ends outside the building, into a drain or gulley, the pipe should finish above the water line and below the grate by no less than 25mm, with additional installation of a drain guard.
• A 'Benchmark Commissioning Checklist' should be filled out so that all the details of the condensate drainage pipe installation are noted.
• If all or part of a condensate drainage pipe goes outside the building, the installer must explain to the customer that there is a potential risk of the pipe freezing and given the option of fitting trace heating to help raise the temperature of the pipe.
• Installers should avoid incorrect and non-compliant installation by following the appliances' installation guide, so ensure correct installation and not invalidating any warranties.
Article by Benjamin Clarke
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