Winter Plumbing Tips
February 20, 2019
We know winter can cause problems, so we have some tips on keeping those plumbing disasters and annoyances at bay during the colder months.
1. One not just for colder months, but it helps to keep on top of your boiler servicing. Keeping your boiler in great working condition all year round can help to avoid pesky problems in the winter.
2. If your boiler has stopped working in icy weather, check that the condensate pipe isn’t frozen. A common problem at this time of year but try pouring warm (but not boiling!) water over the pipe, use a hot water bottle or a hairdryer to thaw it out.
3. A regularly reported issue can be that the pipes feeding your outdoor taps or the boiler condensate pipe is frozen and this can cause them to burst. Try lagging them to prevent this problem.
4. Another tip to prevent your condensate pipe from freezing is to keep your heating on a low temperature overnight during the coldest hours.
5. Are you finding that when you go for that nice warm shower in the morning that the water is taking far too long to heat up? You could be experiencing a case of low water pressure caused by a blockage of leak in the pipes. Try to get this fixed before it causes any damage.
6. Keep yourself safe and protected by installing a carbon monoxide detector close to your boiler so you are notified of any CO leaks quickly and make sure to test those batteries – it could save your life!
7. Always know where your stop tap is and check that it is easily turned on or off – you wouldn’t want to discover you have a problem during a flooding disaster! Consider installing a Sure Stop to easily switch off the mains water.
8. Speaking of stop taps, it can be useful if your outside tap is on a different stop tap to the rest of your system, as you can isolate this, turning just the outside tap off when frozen without affecting the rest of the water supply to the house.
9. Have you noticed that there are cold spots in your radiators? This could be a sign that there is sludge in the system so try a powerflush and see if it clears. Similarly, if your radiators are only heating up at the bottom, a powerflush could help to resolve this too. Alternatively, you may need to bleed them.
10. Try to think ahead to prevent a build-up of sludge from happening inside your boiler too by adding an inhibitor to the system. You can also use a magnetic filter or combine the two for the most effective protection from a build-up of sludge. Prevention will be cheaper than fixing an issue.
11. Thermostatic radiator valves can be a great money saver but did you know they can also help regulate the temperature in your home much more efficiently, helping you to keep your home warm and snug on a cold day.
12. Be more efficient and only heat the rooms that are used often by adjusting your radiator thermostats. Closing curtains and doors can also help to retain heat within your rooms, keeping them open during the day to be heated by sunlight first!
13. If you notice any pooling water in the home or garden, this could be a sign that there is a leak or burst pipe you need to deal with.
14. A lot of energy companies now install a smart meter for you in the home. Use this as a way to understand what you are spending on heating your home and your energy usage to you can keep the costs down over winter.
15. Keep an eye on defrosting snow on the roof compared to your neighbours. If yours melts quicker than theirs then it could be a sign that your home isn’t well insulated and you won’t be as energy efficient as you could be.
16. Check that your outdoor drains are in good condition, any broken grates can let falling leaves and other debris get swept into the drain and can cause blockages.
17. Invest in a few plug-in electric heaters just in case. If your boiler breaks down, you may have to wait a few days until an engineer can get the parts to fix it so it’s a great way of keeping warm during this time.
18. It’s good to understand how your boiler works so you can make sure you are using it efficiently with timers and programmers, as well as understanding any fault codes and what action needs to be taken depending on the fault – handy to know in case of an emergency.
19. If you have noticed that your bills have increased recently or a build-up of mould, bubbles in painted walls or a smell of damp, call a plumber to check if you have a leak in the system. If you are worried about a leak anywhere, make sure you act as soon as possible as in freezing weather this could lead to much more severe problems.
20. Listen out for a ‘kettling’ noise coming from within your boiler as this can indicate a restricted water flow in the system due to sludge, causing the water to boil. This may mean the heat exchanger needs replacing if a powerflush doesn’t resolve the issue.
21. Get into a routine of checking your boiler pressure as signs of reoccurring low pressure can indicate an issue and reduce its performance. You can increase the pressure yourself but if it keeps dropping then best call a heating engineer to take a look.
22. Make sure you are adequately covered by boiler policies and insurance. Understand exactly what you are covered for and make sure you maintain your systems as directed by the terms and conditions, as often the ages and condition of the boiler or lack of servicing could mean you have an invalid claim and have to pay out to fix the problem.
23. If you are planning a trip away, you may want to consider turning off the water at the stop tap to prevent any freezing pipes, or else leave the heating on a low temperature to avoid freezing and bursting pipes.
24. Finally, and potentially most importantly, always have a number handy of who to call in an emergency, especially if it were to happen in the middle of the night or at a weekend as you may be limited to who can come out.