In the State of New York we can have some very intense cold winter days. During those exceptionally cold winter days the boiler system can become vulnerable and particularly the condensate pipe. A boiler’s condensate pipe is prone to freezing. When the condensate pipe freezes it can leave the home without heat. Agape Air Conditioning, Heating, & Plumbing will share why the condensate pipe freezes, how to unfreeze the pipe, and how to prevent future freezing.
Why a Boiler Condensate Pipe Freezes
Condensing style boilers all have a condensate pipe which sends all of the wasted water through a drainage system. The water waste is very acidic as a result of the condensing boiler heating cycle. The water waste occurs as the condensation cools and then drips down through the drainage system. The condensate pipe is often easy to find as it is the only pipe made of a plastic material and the rest of the boiler system is usually steel. The condensate pipe also leads out and away from the boiler system to allow the water waste to properly drain out. As the water waste drains out of the boiler and through the drainage system, the high acidic properties of the water makes it prone to freezing. Often the water will freeze inside the pipe which can create a blockage. As the boiler continues to heat up, the home water waste will continue to flow through the now blocked condensate pipe. If too much water builds up inside the condensate pipe, it will begin to flood the boiler causing major damage to the boiler. To prevent damages to the boiler, a frozen condensate pipe needs to thawed out and prevented.
Symptoms of a Frozen Condensate Pipe
When a condensate pipe freezes causing a major blockage it is important to recognize the problem. Modern boiler systems will have a display screen with an error code to help signal a problem. However, for older boilers you will need to listen. The sound of gurgling noises from the boiler is another indication water is beginning to back up. Once the problem has been detected you will need to thaw out the pipe quickly. You can use a hot water bottle or a microwaveable heating pack and surround the condensate pipe. You can also pour hot water over the pipe. Do not use boiling water as it can melt the pipe since it is plastic. Pouring water on the pipe can be messy and get all over the floor, so be prepared to mop up the water if you use this method. When working on thawing out the pipe, make sure the boiler is turned off and give the system a rest. This will allow any backed up water waste to work its way out.
How to Prevent Frozen Condensate Pipes
To help prevent the condensate pipe freezing in the future you will want to insulate the pipe. Use a foam pipe insulation material and cover the exposed piping. Another way to prevent the condensate pipe from icing up is to leave the heating system running throughout the night. This way the boiler stays warm during the coldest point of the day. Next seek out professional help if the pipe continues to freeze. There may be a flaw in the condensate drainage system design or another reason why water is building up inside the pipe.
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For boiler and furnace repair services this winter season, contact Agape Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing today.