How to avoid a household disaster this winter

If you want to enjoy Christmas and New Year without worrying about your central heating system or waterworks – it’s time to get your house in order sooner rather than later. A little DIY and a few repairs don’t take long, but they could save you a lot of bother further down the line.

Arrange a boiler service

With the temperatures set to plummet over the next few months, arranging boiler cover should be at the top of your to-do list. An engineer will check that everything’s working properly and will repair your pilot light, or control settings if necessary. They will also inspect all ventilation routes and make sure you are not at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning which affects hundreds of people each year.

Insulate your water pipes

If a part of your water pipes freeze, it can create a burst that might cause extensive damage to your home. This can be disastrous – particularly if you have no-one to help you out – so you must insulate your waterworks. To do this, buy some high-quality foam from a nearby DIY store and wrap it tightly around each and every pipe. This will lock the warm air in and prevent the liquid inside from turning to ice.

Thaw out your condensate pipe

The condensate pipe carries condensation from your boiler to an outside drain and is prone to freezing – particularly if it’s exposed to the elements. If this happens, the blockage can cause your central heating shutdown, so it must be thawed as soon as possible. Pouring hot water over the pipe should do the trick, but if that doesn’t work fast enough, you can also use a hot water bottle or heat pack. If this doesn’t solve the problem, heating engineers are on hand to help.

Keep an eye on your thermostat

If your boiler thermostat is off or is set too low, you will have problems heating your house. Your radiators won’t get warm and there will be no hot water to take a bath or shower. This can be very inconvenient when there’s snow on the ground, so keep an eye on your temperature settings and check that the pilot light is lit. If you can’t detect the problem, call for help before your lips turn blue.

Bleed your radiators

Your central heating system should warm your house quickly, so if you’re not feeling the benefits there may be an airlock in the system. Pockets of gas often get trapped in the radiators, so learn how to bleed them and see if that solves the problem. If things still don’t improve, check that your timers and programmers are working, before calling for professional help.

A boiler breakdown or heating hiccup can be embarrassing if the in-laws are round, so know how to make basic repairs and organise a gas safety check.