Boiler problems: Is your heating struggling or broken? This might be why - and how to fix it

Is your heating struggling? Boiler packing in? There could be a very simple explanation.

Ice inside a frozen pipe

With temperatures being well below freezing for several days on end, pipes have been freezing up - leading to this, a giant icicle of frozen water taken from inside the pipe by a plumber.

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Condensate pipes are pipes through which the boiler pushes out waste water and usually runs along an outside wall of the house. In the current temperatures, that pipe can completely freeze over, which in turn stops the boiler from working at all.

One plumbing company in Sheffield said it had over 70 calls in one afternoon due to freezing pipes stopping boilers from working.

Grant Draper, who runs heating and boiler blog, says he has received a 516% increase in web traffic for people searching 'boiler problems' in the past two days.

With temperatures plummeting across the county Yorkshire Water is offering advice on how to keep pipes from freezing and bursting.

Ice inside a frozen pipe

If your heating is playing up, the first thing to try is boiling the kettle and running hot water along the pipe outside your house, which will help thaw the frozen water trapped inside.

Repeat the hot water if necessary, then wrap the pipe in something - cladding, or an old sheet or tea towel - to help keep it protected, before restarting the boiler. If you still have no joy, it may be time to call a plumber to pull the ice out. Of course, don't mess with the boiler itself - this requires a certified gas safety registered plumber.

Temperatures plunged well below zero overnight, it is likely the 851 burst pipes already fixed by the Yorkshire Water team in the last three months is likely to increase over the coming weeks.

Yorkshire Water’s Head of Service Delivery, Neil Dewis said: “It is extremely rare for temperatures to be this low this time of year and it is possible that pipes may freeze or burst.

Ice inside a frozen pipe

“We want to help as much as possible, which is why we are trying to help vulnerable customers by providing those with frozen pipes, bottled water.

“We want to give customers lots of advice, so they are best prepared as possible to deal with the conditions.”

Customers are advised to take the below simple steps to make their homes winter-ready:

· Protect all exposed pipe work, cisterns, tanks, taps and water meters in unheated areas with waterproof foam lagging or insulation

· Know where the stop tap is located at the property in case it needs to be turned off in an emergency. The main stop tap is usually found at the point where the pipe work enters the premises, often it is under the kitchen sink

· Make sure you keep a plumber’s number handy in case of an emergency

· Keep homes warm - set central heating on a low heat or a 24-hour constant setting. If going away on holiday tell a neighbour or friend so that they can check to make sure there have been no burst pipes.