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"Enforce building regs to eradicate external condensate pipes"

Following special summit, the heating industry calls on government to step in to drive out the scourge of frozen condensate pipes

The heating indusry has called for better enforcement of the building regulations, which it says will help rid the industry of frozen condensate pipes, which caused so many boiler failures in the recent extreme weather.

The call follows a special summit organised by HHIC to discuss the problem. The summit’s conclusion was that since Building Regs require installation of condensing boiiers, it follows that those installations should be compliant with British Standards, which requires internal condensate pipework except in exceptional circumstances.

An efficient condensing boiler will generate around 2 litres of condensate an hour at a temperature of around 30-40 deg C, this needs to be piped to the waste water system or to a drain.

HHIC noted that both industry specification and the current British Standard BS6798 state that ‘wherever possible, the condensate drainage pipe shall be terminated at an internal foul water discharge point’. Where there is no other option than to run the pipe externally the pipe needs to be increased to at least a 30 mm inside diameter and insulated to help prevent freezing.

The consensus was that greater awareness and enforcement of this standard is needed, as well as more emphasis on supporting solutions such as internal insulation or trace heating products.

The industry is now calling upon the government for greater enforcement and strengthening of building regulations.

However, the call was greeted with scepticism by some installers, who pointed out that the government didn’t have a good record for policing the building regs.

Stewart Clements, Director, HHIC said; “We called this ‘summit’ to discuss what needs to be done to prevent a repeat of the problems the industry, and of course consumers experienced earlier in the month. It meant looking at existing regulations around boiler installations; preventative measures to protect external pipework from freezing and what advice and guidance consumers need. We had a wealth of experience on the day. HHIC together with the Association of Plumbers and Heating Contractors (APHC), the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) met with manufacturers and installers recognising that action must be taken.”

He said: ”From the feedback, we have received, it has become clear that there was a significant proportion of installations that were not installed to current standards and manufacturer’s instructions. Obviously, it is difficult to legislate against the most extreme weather conditions particularly when there is a high wind chill factor. However, we believe it is time for the government to act. Greater enforcement and strengthening of the building regulations will reduce this risk of boiler condensate pipes freezing. And we are calling upon the government to make the necessary legislative changes. In the meantime, we will continue to advise the consumer and Gas Safe engineer to determine that the condensate pipe does comply with the manufacturer’s instructions when they service a boiler.”

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