Weather experts warn us there will be 36 days of snow or ice across the winter months, as well as harsh temperature lows of -16°C, which could see the inevitable return of plumbing problems and potentially serious damage.
During these prolonged spells of extremely cold weather, boiler manufacturers will receive thousands of calls every day with customers reporting boiler breakdowns – with a frozen condensate line the main culprit. It’s a familiar problem for householders, plumbers and the industry, but this familiarity doesn’t make the inconvenience, and inevitable cost, any less difficult.
Recent research shows that it typically costs £344 to repair a broken down boiler, but one in ten homes with boiler problems will actually pay more than £1,000. So with future freezing temperatures unavoidable and only 34% of those homeowners surveyed saying they had the money to pay for such an emergency, how can you help minimise that nightmare situation?
Responding to extreme temperatures to reduce risk of plumbing problems
With high-efficiency condensing boilers that are routed externally, there will always be a vulnerability to extreme temperatures. Of course, a simple answer is to avoid taking the condensate line outside –connecting it to an internal waste run or soil stack – but this isn’t always possible.
So if there’s really no alternative to the external placement of a condensate pipe, what precautions can you take to save everyone a lot of hassle?
The BS 6798, Specification for installation and maintenance of gas-fired boilers, recommends that externally-run condensate drainage pipe should:
- Keep the length of condensate drainage pipe outside the home as short as possible and not more than 3m, unless it is insulated
- Increase any external condensate drainage pipe to a minimum of 32cm, nominal diameter, to reduce the risk of freezing. This applies if the boiler does not include a siphon.
This is all good practice, but our additional recommendations for any externally routed condensate pipework are:
- A minimum pipe size 32mm: this is regardless of pipe length or whether the boiler includes a siphon or not.
- Replace any external 21.5mm pipework with 32mm and insulate the pipework: this will further reduce the risk with minimal difference to cost
Be especially careful to insulate vulnerable points;
- Where water may slow down. For example, at 90 ° knuckle bends positioned where the pipe exits the wall cavity and drops to an external drainage point
- At termination points. For example, at a condensate connection point to an external stack
And, of course, wherever you’re installing new condensate pipework:
- Keep any changes of direction to an absolute minimum
- Avoid horizontal runs wherever possible.
Choose our Hep2O plumbing system this winter
Leaving the best tip for last, many notable industry experts recommend using our very own Hep 2 O plastic push-fit system to better resist the effects of the cold.
As the only plastic system accepted by British Gas for use by their engineers, Hep 2 O demonstrates the quality and reliability necessary for extreme cold. Hep 2 O should still be insulated, but once in place keeps its flexibility in temperatures as low as –15°C, which significantly reduces the risk of burst pipes.
How does our Hep2O plumbing system cope in sub-zero temperatures?
Gareth Samuel, Product Manager and Hep 2 O expert, says: ‘We can’t change the weather, but we can change how we react to it. Hep 2 O is designed, manufactured and tested to the highest standards with all products fully certified and guaranteed for 50 years. It’s great even in sub-zero temperatures as, unlike rigid systems, Hep 2 O pipe can accept a level of expansion without fracturing and will resume its original size after a thaw.
Furthermore, as Hep 2 O’s Polybutylene (PB) ‘Straight Coil Pipe’ can be easily threaded through joists and around bends, the number of joints – compared to a copper system – is vastly reduced so removing another potential point of vulnerability during the winter. The system’s inherent durability and resistance to corrosion and cold weather make it ideal for beating the freeze this winter and for many more in the future.”
Claim your free sample of Hep2O Push-Fit Hep2O includes unique features that enable quick and easy installation with a secure fitting. It is the only push-fit plumbing system with joint recognition, secure demounting and a 50 year guarantee. Order here