A Northampton plumbing agency says homeowners should let their taps drop tonight to stop their boilers and pipes freezing and breaking down during the ongoing cold snap.
PlumbProud, based in Hood Street, The Mounts, is offering tips to help families protect their home from the cold after seeing residents across the town struggle to heat their homes.
A spokeswoman said: "Our phones have not stopped ringing today because people all over Northampton are struggling with no heating in particular. One of the ladies we helped this morning was a 95-year-old lady with no heating."
PlumbProud are offering these tips to protect boilers and taps from the cold:
1. Leave indoor taps dripping
When water freezes it expands; this can result in burst pipes. Leaving a tap dripping will give relief to the pipework as the water has somewhere to go as it expands. The tap doesn't need to be fully open, just dripping will be plenty.
2. Bleed your radiators
You might find although your boiler is on max your radiators have cold spots at the top. This could simply be down to there being air trapped in radiators. Before calling a plumber try bleeding your radiators using a bleed key.
3. Shut off your outdoor taps
Ensure all outdoor water outlets are shut off. Turn off outdoor water outlets such as outside taps and watering systems at their shutoff valves if they have one.
4. Reset your condensing boiler with boiling water
The majority of our call outs today have been broken boilers where we have found the condense pipe to be frozen. If you have a condensing boiler and you get home tonight to find your boiler isn't working, it's very likely to be because your condensate pipe is frozen outside. Simply pour boiling water onto the pipe three to four times and reset the boiler. This should fix the issue.
5. Insulate your pipes
Ensure any pipework exposed to the cold weather is protected with pipe lagging. If water passes through a pipe that isn't kept warm it increases the risk of burst or frozen pipes. All pipework exposed to the cold weather, such as in garages, out buildings, lofts and in the garden needs to be insulated with lagging as much as possible. Most DIY stores sell lagging. Don’t worry about lagging gas pipework.
6. Disconnect your hose pipes
A water-filled hose will freeze if it is left out in the cold. If the hose is still connected to the faucet, ice can back up into the pipe inside your house, causing the pipe to crack. To save you being unable to water your garden come the warmer weather, disconnect all hoses from their supply connection, drain them and store them away somewhere warmer (such as the garage or a shed) for the winter.
7. If you’re lucky enough to be escaping the cold weather, don’t turn the heating off altogether
Apply frost protection. Modern heating controls will have a ‘frost protection mode’. Read through the manufacturer's literature and ensure this is activated if you won’t be home for the night (or week). This will protect you from a burst pipe and ultimately a very cold home, as the heating will come on if the temperature inside your home drops below five degrees. If you don’t have frost protection don't worry, you can get the same result by turning your heating on to constant at the programmer and setting your thermostat to 5 degrees.
8. Treat your boiler like your car
Book your annual service. Just like you car, your boiler is a working machine with moving parts and when it's cold it's having to work so much harder - just like your car. You wouldn't miss your MOT or annual service, so don't skip your boiler service either. It requires a service every year to check it is safe and working to its full capacity.
PlumbProud are available on 0845 055 8110 or visit their website.