This time last year the Beast from the East was en route. Here Sime’s Product Manager, Phil Birchenough, explains why a snow day isn’t always a good thing, particularly when it comes to your pipes.

This time last year, many of us were experiencing an unexpected amount of snow so even though temperatures seem to be rising this February, it is important to be prepared in case the weather turns and we have the ‘Beast of the East’ round 2. The general advice is to keep water and blankets in your car, regularly check in on elderly and vulnerable neighbours and only travel if your journey is necessary. Being prepared when you travel is one thing but you also need to prepare your home. Have you thought about checking your pipes?

Snow brings with it some horrifying temperatures which means we tend to have the heating on for longer than usual. When we are so reliant on our boilers in the cold, we should give them some extra TLC to keep them working effectively.

During last year’s cold snap, frozen condensate pipes were a big problem for many homeowners. It is likely that at least part of your boiler condensate discharge pipe is exposed to the outside which means that it is liable to freeze in extreme temperatures. In this instance, your boiler will shut off and your heating and hot water that is needed the most, will not work, causing a whole world of issues for you and your family.

How do I prepare for the cold weather?

To reduce the risk of this happening, you can eliminate your pipe’s exposure to the outside by running it to an internal discharge source. This is something that can be done easily by your heating engineer. Alternatively, if this is not possible, there are products available that can give you added protection.

I would also recommend operating your boiler at a higher flow temperature during cold periods. This can be done simply by adjusting your boiler’s thermostat (not your room’s thermostat) to a higher setting. This decreases the amount of condensate generated, protecting your pipes. It is important to note however, that this will mean that the radiator surfaces will be hotter than usual, so extra care should be taken during this period to reduce the risk of burns.

My pipe is already frozen, what do I do?

If your pipe is already frozen, it’s not the end of the world. If you can locate the blockage then you can usually fix the problem yourself, providing that the pipe is easy to access from ground level. Similar to the way you would de-ice your car windscreen on a cold day, you can easily thaw your frozen pipe by applying warm (not boiling) water to the frozen area. However, please only follow this advice if it is safe to do so and if the pipe is easy to access. If not, you can enlist the help of a gas safe registered heating engineer.

Once the problem has been fixed and the pipe is no longer frozen, the next step is to reset your boiler. To do this you would need to follow the instructions in your manual which, for customers with a Sime boiler, can be downloaded from our website: https://sime.co.uk/homeowner/service-support-downloads/.

If you are unsure about any of the advice above or if you have any questions and would like professional advice, your local heating engineer is always on hand to help.