Lessons learned from a bit­ter win­ter about keep­ing warm

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Sharon Dale

THE cold snap that gripped the coun­try in the run-up to Christ­mas saw record num­bers of break­downs. Call-outs to npower soared by 80 per cent and the com­pany’s home­team has is­sued ad­vice to pre­vent pipes from freez­ing and over­worked boil­ers from mal­func­tion­ing in fu­ture.

Con­dens­ing boil­ers are now stan­dard in the UK, work­ing 10 to 20 per cent more ef­fi­ciently than the reg­u­lar non-con­dens­ing mod­els. How­ever, the process by which waste gases are con­verted into wa­ter can leave sys­tems prone to freez­ing, which can cause a break­down.

Joan Coe, mar­ket­ing man­ager for npower home­team, says: “This win­ter has been par­tic­u­larly bad for boiler break­downs as peo­ple are run­ning their boil­ers at full ca­pac­ity for longer pe­ri­ods of time, which of­ten ex­poses an un­der­ly­ing prob­lem. Here are npower’s tips on how to main­tain a con­dens­ing boiler:

The Heat­ing and Hot­wa­ter In­dus­try Coun­cil (HHIC) states that tem­po­rar­ily set­ting the heat­ing timer/room ther­mo­stat to con­tin­u­ous is one way to pre­vent the con­den­sate pipe from freez­ing up.

Dur­ing cold weather it is of­ten more efficient to keep your heat­ing on low con­stantly, rather than run­ning it at full ca­pac­ity at in­ter­vals through­out the day. This keeps the sys­tem at a con­stant warm tem­per­a­ture and pre­vents freez­ing.

If it’s too late to im­ple­ment our first tip, here’s what to do. If the tem­per­a­ture out­side is be­low freez­ing and your con­dens­ing boiler is not work­ing, or is dis­play­ing an er­ror mes­sage or flash­ing light, then it is pos­si­ble your con­den­sate pipe is frozen.

Lo­cate the con­den­sate pipe (of­ten found ex­ter­nally) and thaw it by plac­ing a hot wa­ter bot­tle on the pipe or pour­ing warm wa­ter on the pipe. Then sim­ply re­set your boiler.

If you are con­cerned that your con­den­sate pipe is li­able to freez­ing fre­quently, then it might be pos­si­ble to re­lo­cate the pipe in­ter­nally.

You could also have your con­den­sate pipe re­placed with one that is of a wider di­am­e­ter, as this will also re­duce the chances of it freez­ing. Try in­stalling lag­ging round the pipe to in­su­late it; a pro­fes­sional can fit this for you or can pur­chase a kit from a DIY or home im­prove­ment store.

En­sure your boiler is prop­erly main­tained through­out the year to avoid en­coun­ter­ing prob­lems dur­ing the win­ter when you need it most.

An an­nual ser­vice will en­sure your boiler is op­er­at­ing both ef­fi­ciently and safely.

Joan Coe adds: “If cus­tomers ex­pe­ri­ence a boiler break­down caused by a frozen con­den­sate pipe, they can call us and we will talk them through the mea­sures above to re­solve the prob­lem as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“If, how­ever, the prob­lem per­sists we will then send out an en­gi­neer to get the boiler up and run­ning.

“By fol­low­ing these sim­ple tips and be­ing more in­formed about how con­dens­ing boil­ers work, we hope that home­own­ers will be bet­ter pre­pared should they find them­selves in this sit­u­a­tion in the fu­ture.”

An­other tip is to try Googling the make of your boiler and prob­lems, eg “Worces­ter boiler and prob­lems”.

There are lots of fo­rums of­fer­ing ad­vice and you may find what you need there.

Npower, along with other com­pa­nies, of­fer boiler and heat­ing care ser­vice deals too. npower’s costs £10.50 a month, but if you don’t call them for a year, they re­turn 50 per cent of the an­nual cost if you take gas and elec­tric­ity from them.

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