Some of the pipework in your property may be exposed to extreme weather conditions including temperatures below zero degrees centigrade. These should be properly lagged to protect them from freezing.
The obvious places to find these pipes is in the attic, basement, garage and garden. There are other less obvious places e.g. a pipe running past an air brick or wall vent. If you have an outside tap, isolate it during the cold weather. Turn off the isolation valve on the supply then drain water from the pipe by opening the tap until water stops flowing.
2. Valves - Get to know them!
Have a look at the DIY Video Guides on our website and ensure that you know how to locate your mains water valve or stopcock so that it can be switched off in an emergency. It’s so much easier to do this when you’re not under pressure with a pipe leaking away.
Take the time to find out what other stop valves you have in the house and label them. Valves can seize up over time if they’re not used so get into the habit of turning them off and on again a couple of times a year to keep them in working order.
Fit isolation valves when installing new plumbing so that you can easily isolate that part rather than having to close everything off.
3. Emergency Plumbing
You should always be prepared for a plumbing emergency. This will save you a lot of expense and stress should an emergency occur. Keep LLFA tape in your toolbox because this is ideal for sealing a split pipe and have our Emergency number dialed into your telephone - 0800 056 7988.
4. Deal with Drips, don't leave them!
Don’t leave a dripping tap or ball valve. It’s far better to address the problem early rather than leave it till the problem gets worse. A perished washer on a ball valve in your water storage cistern in the attic, for example, is only going to fail eventually if you don’t replace it and you’ll end up with water pouring out of the overflow or worse. If you need to use a wrench on items like taps, cover with an old rag first to prevent scratches.
5. Look After Your Boiler
Each and every year, you should have your boiler and heating system serviced. This is vital. Failing to do this could result in your heating system not working at its best and the chance of poisonous gases escaping.
If you can see the flame in the boiler it should be a clear, strong, blue flame – a yellow flame would indicate a problem and should be checked. Only ever have work on your boiler (or any other gas appliance) carried out by a Gas Safe Engineer. If you have a pressurised system, check the pressure regularly to ensure it is within the specified range. This is usually around 1 to 1.5 bar but check the manual.
6. Machine Hoses
Some of the appliances in your home (such as washing machines) have flexible hoses.
These should be checked annually for signs of wear and tear. These hoses can suffer from a fair bit of pressure as the water is drawn and closed off. Check the connections at each end of the hoses as well to make sure there are no drips which could develop into a more serious problem.
7. Waste Outlets and Gullies
In order to keep waste water pipes flowing freely they should be checked and cleaned at regular intervals. Bath and shower waste outlets are prone to clogging particularly from hair.
Don’t leave it until they become blocked.
Many waste outlets have a removable gauze type filter which can be removed and cleaned quite easily. If you need to clear an outlet, use a plunger rather than chemicals. Clearing a Blocked Shower Waste gives more information. On baths and basins, cover the overflow with a damp rag when using a plunger, otherwise air and water simply get pushed out there instead. An outside gulley gets easily blocked with leaves etc. Fit a leaf guard if possible and run a hose to check flow once a year.
8. Hard Water
Many towns in the county of Surrey have hard mains water and this means that you’re likely to have lime scale deposits build up around taps and shower heads. Use a suitable lime scale remover regularly to prevent the problem becoming too bad. Vinegar is a great alternative to expensive cleaners. There are plenty of other less obvious areas where lime scale can build up – pipes, washing machines and dishwashers, and boilers and heating systems. Additives for heating systems can be used to protect them. If you have the budget, consider fitting a water softener.
9. Emergency Flush
Well maybe not exactly an emergency but if your toilet cistern fails for some reason, a bucket of water poured into the pan does a reasonable job of flushing until it can be fixed.
10. Put the Plug In
If you’re replacing tap washers there are often small components like the grub screw holding the tap head in place. They have a nasty habit of disappearing down plug holes so, put the plug in before you start work.