Are we going to see a repeat of prolonged, freezing Arctic conditions in the winter months ahead that we’ve experienced in recent years? It’s not so bad for me – I love the snow, my legs never shake nor get snow or ice stuck in between the paw pads. What do you call young dogs who play in the snow? Slush puppies! Woof Woof!
So it’s a great, fun time for a dog to be out digging deep in the snow and sniffing out all sorts of strange scents. But some humans can have real problems keeping sufficiently warm in their house if the temperature drops below zero. Even I admit it can be tough trying to break through ice to find bones I’ve buried!
Exceptional problems with keeping warm
So, apart from turning the thermostat down one or two degrees in a bid to avoid a nasty quarterly bill, why should there be a problem with keeping warm if we have one of today’s modern advanced boilers nicely installed?
In the exceptional winter temperatures of recent years, the mercury plunged down between -9C and -20C. However, the average minimum temperature around most of Britain tends to be around 3 – 4C, dipping down to just below freezing when snow is forecast and often for several days afterwards.
Outlet pipe overlooked
This can sometimes mean that the outlet pipe on the modern condensing boiler, which siphons left over cooled water vapour – or ‘condensate’- can freeze if it’s on the outside and not on the inside of the house. This often results in a blockage, which will shut the boiler down, meaning no hot water or heating!
Being a short-haired dog, my master always wants to strap a special doggie coat around me when we go out in the freezing weather. It’s the same, of course, with the outlet pipe. It needs to be properly weather insulated! It’s amazing how this vital pipe can be overlooked because it’s outside.
Usually, a fault code will show on the boiler’s display (or an alarm will sound) and the code can be looked up in the boiler instruction manual.
Unfreezing the blockage
Unfreezing the outlet pipe might not require Bernard to take a look. The blockage is likely to be at the most exposed external point, or at a bend or dip in the pipe. It can simply be a matter of gently thawing the ice.
However, please note – it’s absolutely vital that boiling hot water is NOT simply poured directly onto the pipe! Instead, wrap a soft hot water bottle around the pipe and allow to slowly thaw – and it can take some time! The boiler can be restarted by following the instructions in the boiler manual.
While pipe insulation will help to prevent ice from freezing, when exceptional temperatures occur, it’s always recommended to contact a qualified, experienced plumber like my master Bernard, for further detailed guidance according to your type of boiler, heating system and layout.
Meanwhile, I shall be looking forward to seeing the first snowflakes – I love snacking on the stuff even if humans don’t!