Act now to avoid winter plumbing pains

As far as the summer's going, it's not been too bad - warm temperatures, sunshine and blue skies mean we can't really ask for much more.

However, don't be fooled - this is the UK after all - and we normally end up paying for a nice spell of weather with equally horrible conditions further down the line.

For this reason, now is the perfect time to ensure your home - particularly your plumbing system - is ready for when the elements inevitably turn against us.

What can happen if I don't prepare my property for winter?

For a start, it can cost you a significant amount of money if events end up taking a turn against you. 

When the mercury on the thermometer drops below zero, this can lead to frozen pipes if they are not properly insulated and if the water inside your plumbing network expands as it turns to ice, there is every chance this could result in your pipes bursting.

According to Lloyds TSB, the average cost of the subsequent damage caused by flooding is around £1,500, although this amount can run much higher if the structure of a building is compromised by rotting joists. 

What's more, the cleanup operation can be long and tiresome - something you can really do without. 

So, what action should you be taking now to avoid getting caught out when summer fizzles out and winter starts to move in?

Planning for winter

One of the first steps you should take is to find out whether or not your pipes are properly insulated.

Wherever your pipes are exposed - ie you can see them without having to knock away plaster from your wall - they should be covered in lagging, which you should be able to buy from any hardware store. 

This is relatively cheap to do and can significantly reduce the risk of your pipes freezing. Additionally, it could make an impact on your energy bills, with the temperature of your bath and shower's warm water supply not being reduced as a result of heat escaping through the pipes on its way to the bathroom.

You should also keep an eye out for any drips coming from your piping, as this can potentially lead to a slow buildup of water that easily freezes when temperatures drop. 

If you are not confident enough to sort such a problem out yourself, you may wish to consult a plumber if a leak is persistent. Similarly, if you need to replace some of the pipes entirely, then consider using plastic instead of the copper alternative, as this modern piping is more flexible and should offer more give if it does freeze.

As we've mentioned in previous blogs, it's always worth finding out where your stopcock is if you weren't previously aware, so you can turn off your water supply if your efforts to prevent freezing fail. Being prepared for every eventuality can certainly pay off when it comes to limiting the amount of damage that a burst pipe can cause!

Finally, make sure your boiler has been serviced at some point during the year. As well as hopefully making sure you won't suffer a breakdown when you need it most, it makes sense to do this in the summer months as you will be relying on it less than when winter comes.

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