Helping UK homeowners make the right heating choices

Condensing Boilers Unable to Escape Big Freeze


In the UK, condensing gas central heating boilers are considered both reliable and energy efficient. Whilst modern condensing boilers can be described accurately in such terms, customers ought to be aware that the latest generations of condensing boiler are not infallible – a point made painfully aware to thousands of householders over Britain’s most recent cold snap.

As temperatures plunged to around -20C in some parts of the UK over the Christmas period, British Gas engineers were called out to fix ailing boilers on an unprecedented scale. British Gas has claimed that its engineers fixed around 100,000 boilers in the six-day period leading to Christmas Eve, by which time the so-called ‘Big Freeze’ had abated.

According to Charlie Mullins, of Pimlico Plumbers, modern condensing boilers are generally efficient and reliable but a plastic pipe used to expel waste water is prone to freezing. Usually situated on an external wall, the pipe carries water produced by the condensation process into drains. Owing to its physical properties and external location, the pipe can freeze in extreme weather conditions, causing the condensing boiler to stall.

Mr Mullins said: “We’ve seen a hell of a lot of this sort of thing this winter and lots of people don’t seem to know much about it. With older boilers you might expect a problem in the cold weather, but when people have spent a lot of money on a new boiler it’s a nasty surprise.”

Mr Mullins added: “There has been more of this, though of course there are more condensing boilers around now. I’m not sure anyone expected to see temperatures like this two years in a row.”

The founder of Pimlico Plumbers stressed that milder winters were probably responsible for fitters paying little attention to how and where such pipes were installed.

Mr Mullins concluded: “Frozen pipes are something you used to see a lot when I was still out and about in the 1970s. But in recent years, particularly in London, it wasn’t so much of a problem. For a modern plumber fitting a boiler it might not be something they think about – whether the pipe is in an exposed spot and likely to freeze.”

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3 thoughts on “Condensing Boilers Unable to Escape Big Freeze

  1. We had a Ideal Logic + combi boiler fitted and was informed it would bleed about a cupfull of condensed water per day. IT froze! so we isolated the pipe untill the thaw, but we were getting more like 3 pints of water per day. Is this normal?

  2. AS ONE WHO HAS A 28i JUNIOR INSTALLED IN 2007 AND HAVE HAD FROZEN CONDENSATION PIPE FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS???WHAT SUGGESTION DO YOU DO TO REMIDY THIS.—–ALSO—–
    SHOULD THE ECO SWITCH BE ON/OFF AT ALL TIMES
    LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR REPLY

  3. I feel sorry for the Ideal Logic owner, boilers after the Mini and Mexico were Ideal to fit but anything after have only been Ideal in name only. Us the engineers cringe when we hear Isar, Icos, Maxmiser, Minimiser, Response. The fact these are being fitted under warm home scheme is letting the big bad wolf into grandmas cottage! We have found when recycling the Ideal boiler the best part is the scrap value of the heat exchangers, the Ideal way to see an Ideal boiler!
    On the 28 I Junior a much better product, boiler of the year 4 years in a row as voted by the trade. Customers can get a 5 year warranty if they use accredited installer. The old addage read the Manual you muppet! Lag the drain and insure there is sufficent fall and make sure it has been upgraded as later recommendations. Get a proper service and not a sniff and run done by gas companies. Speak to your local accredited Worcester engineer when he is servicing the boiler, that is if you bother or do you expect the internet to do it for you?

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