How to Prepare Your Home for Winter
After an unseasonably warm Autumn, the temperatures are starting to drop as the start of Winter approaches. In Bedfordshire we generally manage to avoid the extremes of the winter weather, but it only takes one icy night for unprotected pipes to freeze. Now’s the time to take precautions, if you haven’t already. To help, the Simply Plumbing team has come up with 6 ways to prevent winter plumbing problems.
Table of Contents
1. Locate Your Stop Valve
The stop valve, also known as a stop tap, or stopcock, is how you turn off your water supply if, for example, you have a frozen pipe. It’s usually under the kitchen sink, or near it. It looks like a tap (minus the spout), and it sits between two pipes. If you can’t immediately find it, look in the following places:
- Airing cupboard
- Garage, bathroom, utility room
- Hall, near the front door
- Under the stairs
- If you live in a flat there will be a shared stop tap
Once you’ve located the stop valve, turning off the water is simple. You turn the tap clockwise until you can’t turn it any more. There will still be water in the pipes, if you turn the taps on, but no water will flow into your plumbing system once the stop valve is off.
2. Insulate Your Pipes
This is a simple job which will minimise the chance of your pipes freezing. You’ll need to purchase foam tubing which goes round any exposed pipes as they travel from your boiler to your hot water tank. All condensing boilers have a condensate pipe which carries waste water away into the drain. This should also be insulated.
You’ll be able to source the foam tubing in a hardware shop or builders’ merchants. Measure the tube to be sure you get the right size. There’s a split down the side of the tubing, so all you need to do is wrap it around.
3. Repair Any Leaks
Now’s the time to sort out that dripping tap or shower. Running water will freeze if the temperatures drop sufficiently and this can cause a blockage in your drain. If you’re a confident DIYer, you’ll be able to tackle these jobs yourself. If not, call in a plumber. It’s a quick job and getting it sorted could save you a much larger repair bill.
4. Heat Your House If You’re Away
Obviously, we’re all trying to save money on energy bills at the moment, so it may seem like a madness to heat an empty house. We’re not talking cosy, though. If you’re away for the weekend, turn your thermostat down to 14ºC and schedule it for a couple of periods of heating; one in the morning, and one at night. This will stop your home temperature dropping to danger levels if the weather turns icy.
5. Locate a Local Plumber
The last thing you want, if you do encounter a plumbing problem over the winter, is to be ringing around emergency plumbers. First – and I speak from experience – they’ll be fielding loads of calls from people needing their services straight away. Second, you’ll pay more for an emergency plumber that you’ve never used before, simply because they don’t know your plumbing system or what challenges it may present.
6. Have a Plan, In Case Your Pipes Freeze
If your pipes are frozen, there’ll be no water coming through your taps, shower, or toilet. Alternatively, you may see a bulge in visible pipes where the ice has pushed the metal out of shape. If this happens:
- Use the stop valve to turn off the water into your home.
- Turn the affected tap on, so as the pipe thaws the water will be able to escape.
- Use either a hairdryer, or a hot water bottle to thaw the pipe.
- Call your plumber to check whether there is damage to your system.
About Simply Plumbing
We hope you found ‘6 ways to prevent winter plumbing problems’ helpful. Simply Plumbing is an independent Bedfordshire business with over 10 years of experience in Luton, Dunstable, and the South Beds region.
Since we started out, we’ve built a reputation for being local plumbing specialists that can be relied on in an emergency. This reflects the fact that we don’t let our customers down, we always work to the highest professional standards, and we keep our prices affordable.
Need local plumbing services in Luton, Dunstable or Bedfordshire? Call Simply Plumbing straight away on 01582 250030