Gas Safe highlighting main Boiler problems in winter

by | Mar 5, 2022

Gas Safe highlighting main Boiler problems in winter

Gas Engineer is a monthly publication that is distributed to its 120,000 Registered Engineers.

In last month’s edition, there was a feature on protecting heating systems in winter. It highlighted the issues of unprotected external condensates and how they are the most likely cause of boilers/heating systems not working when customers need them the most.

External condensates are not the problem. It is incorrectly protected ones that are !

Why is this so important ?

In the UK, 70% of homes and properties (not including flats), will not have an internal drain/soil stack. All the drains will be external, even on new homes. Every boiler fitted over the last 17 years must be a high-efficiency boiler (a condensing boiler).

Whether it is a combination boiler or a heat-only boiler with a cylinder, this boiler when operating, produces condensate water which has to be taken from the boiler to a drain. If a home or property has only external drains/soil pipes, the condensate is at risk of freezing in winter if not insulated correctly.

Frozen condensate pipes cause problems every year to thousands of homes in certain areas of the country, and every few years the UK sees countrywide freezing conditions like the one we had in 2018 ( THE BEAST FROM THE EAST)

In February 2018 we had continuous freezing conditions for over two weeks, which led to hundreds of thousands of boilers not working. Homeowners were trying to unfreeze the condensates themselves with hot water or hair dryers…. obviously this was VERY dangerous, with many not managing to unfreeze them or they were not able to physically carry out the task.

This is when the papers and media asked the Heating Industry why this was happening.

So why do many freeze ??

If a condensate pipe goes outside and is not protected correctly then it is at risk of freezing.

There are over 10 million unprotected external condensate pipes in the UK .

Either not protected (like below)

Or not protected or fitted with the right products and materials

Why has this happened ?

Yes, there will be some in the heating industry that have not bothered to protect the boilers and their customers.

HOWEVER, in the past, the professional heating engineer has not had the right materials to provide not only the correct protection, but to look right on a customer’s home or property.

Many used Class O lagging, which in the past has been recommended by manufacturers and industry, The problem with this is that if it is not painted twice and recoated every two years, it will start to deteriorate and does not provide any real protection.

Even if Class O and other insulation is sealed, if it is not sealed right on joints and angles, it lets in water that then seriously reduces the protection and also deteriorates the insulation.

(A) as new… (B) is after 8 months if not sealed correctly

Industry needed a Total Solution

There are 10 key parts to making sure external condensates have the very best protection.

Condensate Pro has worked for 3 years to make a total solution that…

  • provides the very best protection
  • you fit once and forget about
  • is UV & weather proof out of the box
  • helps professionals fit in all weathers
  • makes the perfect seal with our unique Bond & Seal
  • can be fitted on new or retro fits
  • is simple to maintain througout the life of the boiler and beyond
  • looks quality on a customer’s home or property

Condensate Pro is perfect for every external termination

Straight in to drain
Rainwater termination
Soil pipe termination
Soakaway termination

Homeowners will not know until its too late

Usually, the customer/homeowners will not know the condensate is unprotected until it’s too late.

They will not know that getting the condensate protected right the first time will make sure they’re protected for when the next cold winter came

What do I need to do and how do i do it?

If you’re having a new boiler fitted, make sure your condensate is protected correctly. A quality heating professional should know what’s needed. Ask, when they are providing you with a quote and are looking at your boiler and system. (Cheap prices will always miss important parts like this off)

Ask them to advise and show you they’re a professional.

100% get your boiler serviced by a qualified professional and they will advise what is needed.

Don’t think that because you live in a warm part of the country you don’t need to bother, as we have seen when we get a really cold spell it can be countrywide so you need to be protected.

If your boiler has not been affected over the years, with climate change we are going to see wetter, warmer and colder weather, so be prepared, as you want to be protected for when the next big freeze comes. It’s like wearing your seat belt in a car… you don’t just wear it if conditions look dangerous, you wear it all the time just in case.

Many professionals advise their customers dont want it

Protecting an external condensate is part of the Boiler manufacturer’s instructions and may invalidate your boiler warranty if not carried out.

It is the professionals’ responsibility to fit and service a boiler to the Standards and Regulations. Gas Safe issued a technical bulletin in 2021 after many condensates had issues ( TB155 ). HHIC also issued a guide in 2021 to advise how important condensate protection is on customers’ boilers and heating systems.

I can only think the reason why a customer would not want to have their condensate protected correctly once and for all, is that they have seen photos of lagging which has been tie wrapped and is hanging off, that has put them off.

From the photos of condensates that have been protected with Condensate Pro, I am sure they would all say that the problem has now been solved.

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