Seasonal Plumbing Tips
In winter, most people spend more time indoors. That means that keeping plumbing in the best possible condition is even more of a priority than in the summer. The combination of heavier usage of pipes, fittings, etc and weather-related problems such as freezing pipes can lead to plumbing faults. These range from simple dripping taps to more serious problems that are both time-consuming and expensive to have repaired.
Drainage problems are also a risk, for example due to grease disposal after Christmas dinner, while blocked gutters may also cause issues. This is also a period when you may have people around to visit or stay, using your showers or baths each day. Happily, many of these can be easily avoided keeping an eye out for the tell-tale signs of potential problems. These tips should help you to avoid any big holiday disasters.
Keep drains and gutters clean
Blocked drains are among the most common winter plumbing problems. At best, they’re extremely annoying; at worst, they can lead to flooding and big bills. Make sure you check your pipes regularly for overflowing and dripping. Leaves left over from autumn can easily build up in a gutter and block it. A simple and effective way to prevent this is to install gutter guards.
Insulate your pipes against freezing
Because British winters are often mild, it’s easy to forget how much damage frozen pipes can do when they crack, or even burst, under pressure. In cold weather, check the pipes in unheated areas of your home – especially lofts and cellars – to make sure that ice is not forming. To prevent frost damage, keep your pipes insulated by lagging them with WRAS-approved foam insulation. You should also do this with on the outlet pipe if you have a condensing boiler.
Be careful when disposing of kitchen oil and grease
Household drainage systems can find it hard to cope with the large amount of waste grease and oil that’s used in a lot of seasonal cooking. As with external gutters, blockages can easily occur and cause serious flooding problems as they solidify. Check your kitchen pipes are clean by running cold water through them for a little while before and after you dispose of greasy food waste. This applies to both sinks and garbage disposal units.
Keep your water running
Not all the time, of course! But it’s important to run each of your taps from time to time, as this will help to prevent them freezing up. It’s easy to forget about little-used taps in quiet corners of your house, so keep a record of which taps you have used each day. If you have outdoor taps, whether in the garden or in a shed, these will also need to be checked regularly.
Prepare for your own holidays
If you’re going to be away from the house for any length of time, ask a trusted friend or relative to keep an eye on your plumbing for you. They can also help by turning down the thermostat for your central heating and opening loft doors in order that warm air can circulate freely. Make sure they know where the main stop tap is in case there’s a real emergency.