Keeping warm this winter

As the cold weather sets in, we want to make sure you’re comfortable at home. There are some common problems that can happen around the house during the winter months, but some of them can be easily prevented or resolved, without you needing to call us. Here’s what you can do to look after your home this winter…

Reducing Condensation
Condensation happens when warm moist air from ordinary household activities like cooking and bathing, hits a cold surface such as a window or cold wall. It’s more common in cold weather, and you’ll usually find it in in corners, near windows and behind wardrobes and cupboards.

Here are some tips on reducing condensation:

  • Leave your central heating on a low setting, or set the timer to turn the heating on in the morning and the afternoon/evening
  • Balance heating and ventilation to keep your home warm but to let the moist air escape
  • Cover pans with lids when cooking
  • Use extractor fans when cooking or bathing
  • Wipe away any condensation from windows and doors to prevent mould
  • If the weather is good, dry your clothes outside. If you can’t do this, dry them in the bathroom with the door closed and the windows open

Frozen pipes
Frozen pipes can cause problems with heating and boilers when the cold weather arrives. While it’s difficult to avoid, there is a way to defrost the frozen pipe without having to contact us. Here’s a short guide.

How to prevent frozen pipes

  • Report any dripping taps to us – even a small trickle can lead to a frozen pipe in cold weather
  • Know where your stop tap is – most are fitted under the kitchen sink. Make sure you can turn it off if you need to – it’s usually closed by turning it clockwise.
  • Get your gas safety check booked in – we’ll contact you when it’s due
  • Keep a separate supply of drinking water for emergencies

How to thaw a frozen pipe

  • Turn off the water supply at the stop tap – it’s usually under the kitchen sink
  • Check to see if the pipe has burst (scroll down for what to do in this situation)
  • Slowly thaw the pipe by holding a hot water bottle or a towel soaked in hot water around the pipe. You can also use a hair dryer on the lowest setting.

What if the pipe has burst?

  • If you can, turn off the water supply at the stop tap – it’s usually under the kitchen sink
  • Turn on all your taps to reduce any flooding, and soak up any escaping water with towels
  • Report it to us – 0345 111 0000

What is a condensate pipe?
It’s the plastic pipe that runs from your boiler and carries condensation away from the boiler to the outside. All the other pipes are metal, so it’s easily identifiable.

It may be outside of your home, which makes it more susceptible to freezing in colder weather. This can shut your boiler down, leaving you without hot water or heating when you need it most.

How to thaw a frozen condensate pipe

  • Find the blockage – usually at the most exposed part of the pipe, or at a bend or dip.
  • Use hot water (not boiling) heated in a kettle or a microwave, and pour over the end of the pipe where it’s frozen. A watering can might be useful for this bit.
  • Hold a hot water bottle or a towel soaked in hot water around the pipe. You can also use a hair-dryer on the lowest setting.
  • When it has thawed, reset your boiler by holding in the reset button for 10 seconds and waiting for the boiler to re-fire.

Is this safe to do?
Yes, but make sure you take extra care:

  • Don’t disconnect the pipe, or try to thaw it above waist height.
  • Don’t try to access the pipe or other pipes within the boiler.
  • Look out for ice on the ground where you poured hot water to thaw the pipe.
  • Don’t use a naked flame or blowlamp to thaw it.

If in doubt, give us a shout
If you’re worried about trying this yourself, give us a call on 0345 111 0000 and we’ll come out to fix it for you.