Protecting boilers and pipes in cold weather

Take action now to protect yourself against the extreme weather events of February and March 2018. The UK is experiencing a prolonged period of extreme weather, which has not been seen since 1982.

Here are measures that you can take to help prevent boilers and water pipes from freezing, and steps to take if you find yourself with a burst or frozen pipe.


Preventing frozen pipes

  • Ensure that any outdoor pipes are insulted with pipe lagging
  • Know where your main stopcock is, in the event of a burst water pipe
  • Monitor the temperature of your house. If you are away, ensure that the temperature of your home is at least 10 degrees.

If a pipe has frozen

  • Attempt to thaw the frozen pipe. For example, using a hairdryer on a low setting, or a towel soaked in hot water.
  • If a leak occurs, shut off your water supply at the stopcock and call CET.


Freezing temperatures can cause boiler condensate pipes (which are located outside of the property, behind the boiler) to freeze. This can prevent it from functioning.

If your boiler is flashing up an error message on its screen or making some unusual gurgling sounds (which normally you wouldn't hear), the likely culprit is a frozen condensate pipe.

Preventing boiler pipe freezes

  • Ensure that your water pipes are sufficiently insulated, especially those that are located outside.
  • Lag the condensing pipe to insulate it from cold weather.

A lot of boiler installations use small pipework for the condensate pipe, but larger pipes (25mm+ in diameter) make it harder for the ice to block the run. When your boiler is serviced ask the engineer to make these changes for you.

What to do if your boiler is not working, or if your boiler pipes are frozen:

  • Turn the boiler off at its dedicated switch
  • Go outside and look for a plastic pipe that comes out from the wall that your boiler is mounted on. If you can see the end of it, take a look to see if its frozen
  • If it is frozen, try to thaw out the pipe - pour a kettles-worth of warm (not boiling) – water up and down the length of the condensate pipe. Repeat as necessary to clear the ice blockage
  • Go back inside and re-start the boiler (turn it on). It should start automatically. If you still get an error message, try the reset switch
  • If your boiler still does not work, shows an error, or shows signs of problems, call an accredited, professional heating engineer.

24/7 Home Emergency Response from CET Property Assure

We understand that home emergency is very personal. That’s why our Home Emergency Response team is comprised of highly-trained staff with a wealth of experience in emergency situations. We aim to take away your stress and deliver a resolution as quickly as possible to ensure you avoids any delays.

Get in touch for more information


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