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Arctic temperatures freezing condensing boiler pipes

6th February 2012

  • Direct Line warning Britain is at risk of boiler breakdown

Millions of households are at risk of their condensing boiler heating systems failing, due to external drain away pipes freezing, if the forecasted arctic weather hits the UK, insurer Direct Line is warning.

The number of households that have this type of boiler has increased significantly in the last five years as in April 2007, in England and Wales, it became a legal requirement that all gas boilers must be condensing.

The freezing of pipes is stopping the waste liquid (condensate) from draining away, leading to the ‘backing up’ of the liquid, which will cause the boiler to fail and cut out.

Martin Egan, national property claims manager at Direct Line home insurance, comments: “With the arctic weather hitting the UK, we are predicting an increase in boiler failures due to condensing drain away pipes freezing. The problem can be resolved by effective insulation of the pipe, which homeowners can do themselves and save having to call an engineer out. If the plastic pipe from the boiler is in an outside area and is not insulated, it is likely to be frozen and, if isn’t already, it is likely to as the cold weather persists.”

Tips on how to thaw and protect condensing drain away pipes

  • The condensate pipe is a plastic pipe (black, white or grey), coming from the bottom of the boiler. If this pipe is less than 32mm in diameter and runs outside of the property or through a non-heated area then it should be fully insulated with waterproof lagging.
  • Only attempt to thaw a condense pipe that is at ground level and which is easily accessible to you. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to thaw a condense pipe which is at height, without the assistance of a professionally trained engineer.
  • A hot water bottle or heat wrap (like the ones that can be used to ease muscle discomfort) would be a suitable and safe way of thawing the condense pipe. Hold the hot water bottle or warmed heat wrap around the condensate pipe to thaw it.
  • Once thawed, insulate the pipe with waterproof lagging. If it is not at ground level contact the installer in order to implement a permanent solution to prevent the condense freezing.

Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact:

Claire Foster PR Manager Direct Line Email: 020 8285 8682 07900 217 264

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides car, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting