For those who have a boiler you may have had previous problems with your condensate pipe freezing up during the cold winter. When the condensate pipe ices up, the boiler will have a number of problems when it comes to heating up your home. For those who are looking for solutions to this common problem, Ambient Heating & Air Conditioning will share how to deal with a frozen condensate pipe.
What is Boiler Condensate
Boiler’s condensate is the waste water that runs from the boiler. This waste water is produced when the gas is burned at a lower temperature until the water vaporizes. The vapor will collect inside the boiler and accumulate as condensation. The condensate will then be drained out through a condensate pipe. It is important for the waste water to be safely drained away from the home and boiler as the waste water is very acidic, even equal to that of vinegar.
Where Does a Boiler Condensate Pipe Go?
The condensate pipe that directs the water waste from the boiler is made of plastic to prevent corrosion. Depending on the design of the home, the boiler condensate pipe is connected to the rest of the home’s drainage system. This is often the preferred option as it will prevent freezing in the winter. However, sometimes the home’s plumbing design will not allow the boiler’s condensate pipe to be connected and will have the drainage system lead outside the home. Often, with the drainage pipe outside the home, you will run into frozen pipe problems. This is because the condensation is slowly accumulated and drains out very slowly. This very slow flow of water, combined with the cold temperatures, will cause the condensation in the pipe to turn to ice. Over time the water will build up and clog the condensate pipe altogether.
How Do I Know if My Condensate Pipe is Frozen?
When the boiler’s condensate pipe is clogged due to ice, one of the first signs is that the flame to the pilot light will be out or your boiler has ignition problems. It is also common to hear a gurgling noise coming from the boiler. The noise is the result of the water backing up inside the boiler and the condensate pipe. If the flame will not stay on or your boiler is having ignition problems, your home will become colder and colder as the heating system cannot run a cycle.
Unfreeze & Prevent Frozen Condensate Pipe
When the condensate pipe freezes you will want to run hot water over the pipe. Often hot water will be enough to melt the frozen ice inside the pipe. You can also use hot water in bottle and tape them around the pipe if you do not want to spend the time pouring hot water over the pipe. Once the ice is melted the waste water will be able to flow freely. However, it is important to prevent the pipe from freezing in the future. If you frequently have problems with the condensate pipe icing up consider insulating the pipe.