Some simple plumbing checks to prepare your home for winter

Steps to keep your plumbing checks for winter

Date published: 28 August 2012

Winter is very unpredictable these days. While much snowfall and cold may put you in a holiday mood, they can also put a lot of strain on your home, due to potential boiler breakdown, burst pipes and expensive gas bills. In order to help you prepare for winter, we thought of creating a list of 5 steps to help you prepare your home for winter.

1. Check your central heating once a year
It is important to verify both your heating and cooking appliances once a year to ensure that they are working properly. The last thing you want is the central heating to stop working in winter. Therefore, in order to avoid that, we recommend you to get a Gas Safe registered engineer. In addition, you could check whether the radiators heat up yourself. You could run your central heating to maximum capacity and check whether radiators heat fully or not. If you notice some cold spots on the radiator, you may need to bleed your radiators. As far as bleeding radiators is concerned, we found this YouTube tutorial on how to bleed a radiator, useful.

2. Insulate your home
If you haven't insulated your house yet, you might want to consider doing that in the near future. Although you might have to spend a bit of money when you decide to insulate your home, it will be a good investment in the long-term. Not only will insulating your house keep the warmth inside for longer, but it will also save you some cash. Because you will be able to keep your house warm for an extended period, you will not have to turn the heating on as much; therefore, you will be able to lower your gas bills. According to this Directgov article on Insulation and Heating, insulating your loft would save you about £225 a year, while insulating your walls, could save you £110 a year on average. Furthermore, a good insulation together with an efficient boiler will also benefit the environment, by reducing carbon emissions.

3. Lag your pipes
Lagging entails wrapping a foam layer around your pipes to prevent them from freezing. Some of the areas, which are most at risk of freezing are the pipes in your loft, your garage and the area behind the boiler. In addition, it is worth knowing that both cold-water and hot-water pipes are equally likely to freeze if the hot-water pipes do not provide any heat to a room. In principle, you would need to follow these steps in order to make sure that you do manage to lag the pipes successfully:

- Check the pipe diameters
- Decide on the type of lagging tube that you want to purchase
- Push the tubes on to the pipes like a sleeve, making sure you secure the end of the pipes with a tape
- Make small v-shaped cuts in the tubing at the point where it corresponds to the bend in the pipe, to prevent ridges.

4. Repair dripping taps
Repairing any dripping taps will help prevent burst pipes in winter, caused by frozen water. The frozen water accrues in pipes and because of pressure, it can break the pipes and flood your house. Therefore, in order to prevent flooding, it is advisable that you fix any problems with potential dripping taps. I found this article on how to fix a dripping tap useful. In order to repair the dripping taps yourself, you will need the following tools: screwdrivers, slip-joint pliers, a spanner, a new washer and a piece of cloth.

5. Prepare your home if you plan to go away

- Drain your system by turning off the stopcock, running the taps and flushing the toilet until there is no water left
- Keep the temperature in your house constant to about 15 degrees
- Leave the loft trap door open – you will allow warm air to circulate and keep the pipes in the attic warm

6. Ask someone to check on your home once in a while

Wintertime is a great time for get-togethers, for seeing relatives and friends but it is also a great time for coming home to find water damage. If you plan to be away for more than a day, you should follow some easy steps that will prevent your plumbing from suffering from water damage.

To conclude, in order to make sure your house is prepared for winter, you should follow these steps: check your central heating, insulate your home, lag your pipes, repair dripping taps and prepare your house if you go away. This list of 5 steps is by no means exhaustive. However, we feel these would be the most important tips to follow if you want to enjoy the winter holidays, rather than spending time and money by calling plumbers in the middle of winter or even worse, repairing the damage caused by the different problems, which could emerge. Good luck!