Cold weather affecting heating and hot water of council tenants

In cold weather like this, frozen pipes often cause heating and hot water problems.

Our appointed heating engineers, Sun Realm, is currently experiencing high call volumes. If you are able to resolve the issues, using the advice below, that will relieve the helpline for our vulnerable, disabled or elderly residents.

Here is a quick and easy way to thaw them, and other quick fixes to get your heating working again fast.

The majority of the faults relate to frozen condense pipes which need to be free flowing for the boiler to operate. These pipes are identifiable as white plastic pipes exiting the fabric of the building and into a drain.

The following points may reduce the risk of the pipes freezing but also help if your boiler stops working due to a frozen condense pipe.

Boiler thermostat setting can reduce freezing

If appropriate, it may be advisable to operate the boiler temperature at a higher flow temperature, as this would decrease the amount of condensate generated and reduce the freezing potential during extreme cold weather conditions. This is achieved by turning the thermostat located on the boiler to a high setting. Please be advised that the radiator surfaces will be hotter than normal, and the boiler efficiency will be slightly reduced. The boiler thermostat should be turned back to its normal position after the cold spell has ended.

Thawing frozen condensate pipes

Below is an explanation of what you would need to do to resolve the problem if the pipe was to freeze:

Step 1: Locate the blockage

Condensate discharge pipe usually freezes at the most exposed points outside, such as the open end of the pipe, at a bend or elbow, or where there is a dip in the pipe where condensate (water) can collect.

Step 2: Thaw the frozen pipe

The Condensate can be thawed in several ways. By applying a hot water bottle, a microwaveable heat pack around the blockage or by pouring warm water onto the pipe. It is important that you do not use boiling water. Do not attempt this process if the condense pipe is not at ground level and please be aware if you are pouring water onto the pipe this can also quickly freeze on the ground, causing a slip hazard.

It is important to note that if the pipe is above ground level we may have to wait for the temperature to rise so the pipe thaws out naturally as engineers cannot work at height when there is ice and snow on the ground.

Step 3: Reset/restart the boiler

Once the frozen blockage has been cleared, the boiler will usually need to be reset, and advice on how to do this can be found in the user instructions manual for your boiler.

Normally this will involve simply pressing a reset button on the front of the boiler.

If the issue is not resolved and you require help please contact Sun Realm on the out of hours number 0800 018 6050. Please note that due to high call volumes you may need to wait longer than usual.