The winter chill is almost upon us and this can literally lead to households being left out in the cold suffering boiler breakdowns and burst pipe misery. For anyone, this is an uncomfortable time. For the elderly, this can be much, much worse.
Today, Boilers must be condensing boilers by law, and one risk from this, is that the external drain away pipes on these systems freeze and so stop the liquid from draining away. A high number of boiler call outs occur when nobody was at home and the home has had a water mains leak.
Based on this, it is essential that YOU KNOW where your stopcock is. As if you have a leak, stopping this leak as soon as possible by turning the stopcock off is the first thing to do.
Additionally, insulating your boiler pipes with lagging and protecting all your external pipework including the boiler drain-away pipe are also things to do and prevent call-outs etc.
Therefore, if you are going away for a few days during a cold spell or at Christmas, then try and keep your heating on at around 15C to prevent your pipes from freezing.
Also, look at your letterbox, if your letterbox is flapping in the wind, it is letting in wind and cold air. So replace it now, or fit a reverse plate to stop the wind coming right in. If you visit the Energy Saving Trust website, this details and provides various draft-proofing and insulation tips.
Elsewhere, around your house, there are things that need doing that require that of a handyman or tradesmen. Such as cleaning the gutters, as it is sensible to get them cleared now rather than wait until they are blocked and you have an overflowing gutter creating a damp problem.
As I said earlier, now is a good time to think about getting ready for Winter and protecting your home from all what Winter can bring.
Avoiding frozen pipes is a main concern as frozen pipes can lead to burst pipes in various parts of your home. Insulation of your home pipework (both internal and external) and tanks in the loft is one way of helping to prevent problems. Also, if you are going away, for a long period of time, then it is advisable to leave your heating on. Or maybe even turn off your stopcock and drain down your heating system. This means there is less risk of damage from any leaking pipes or tanks.
To do this, you must know where your stopcock is located. The stopcock is usually located under the kitchen sink. The water supply is usually turned off by turning the stopcock clockwise. And throughout the year, check the condition of the stopcock to ensure it is functioning normally and can be turned on and off, as and when required.
In the event of an emergency, there are various steps you can take, to reduce the problem and minimise damage:
Should you experience a boiler breakdown and require heating in the meantime, please do take a look at our Heating range. We stock and supply Radiators , Convector, Halogen and Fan Heaters to name just a few.
Turn off the mains water supply at the stop valve
Ensure that your boiler is switched off. If the hot water system is frozen and the boiler is still alight it may lead to further problems
Undertake visual pipe checks where you can
Protect your belongings - move them away from the pipe to prevent water damage when the pipe thaws
If the frozen pipe runs from a storage cistern and is not controlled by a valve. Then ask someone to check that it isn't split. If it has, open all cold water taps in the system and flush the toilet in order to empty system.
If the pipe has not split, then open the cold water tap nearest to the part of the pipe you think is frozen to allow the water to flow through once the ice has melted
Speed up the thawing process by applying a hot water bottle or heated cloth to the frozen area of the pipework. Starting at the end nearest the tap and work back towards the cold water tank.
Prevent water passing the point of the leak by turning off all stop valves
Open, all cold water taps so that the pipe work and storage system drain quickly switch off the boiler, immersion heater and any other water heating
If water has leaked near your electrics or any electrical appliances, then turn them off at the mains and DO NOT touch them until they have been checked over by a fully qualified electrician.
If you should suffer a boiler breakdown and require heating in the meantime, please do take a look at our Heating range.
Never use an electrical appliance or an open flame to thaw ice.
Don't try to thaw it too quickly as there maybe splits in the pipe which are difficult to see or find.
Be careful, as even though water may be free flowing from taps, other parts of your system may still be frozen.
The above steps will help reduce the problems faced. However, only an experienced trademen will fix the problem.
More importantly, with winter approaching it is also a good idea to keep an eye on our elderly neighbours. If milk bottles are left unattended on their doorstep, or curtains remain drawn, this could be an indicator of all not being well. So knock on their door to find out if they are well.
Know what to grab in case of a flood.
Create a list of all your priority items that you want to be saved.
Prioritise and segregate your grab list per room - this provides each householder with part of the list so that they always know what they should be looking for.
Have the tools you need to remove your prized possessions at hand.
Take photographs of the valuable items and keep these photographs and valuation receipts off site.