One thing we’ve learned over the years is that it’s never too early to prepare for winter when it comes to pipes and boilers. Every year we are inundated with horror stories of homes being left without water and central heating due to freezing temperatures.  So, with winter just around the corner (sorry guys) this blog will advise on how to keep pipes from freezing, what to look out for and how to protect them.


What happens to pipes when they freeze?


If you’ve had the misfortune of frozen pipes, you’ll know it's always impeccably timed . . . during the morning rush, just before a night out or right as you’re due to have people over!  So what is it that causes pipes to freeze?  Well, as water freezes, it expands, which causes a build up of pressure which can ultimately lead to cracked, or worse, burst pipes.  


As a rule copper pipes are more susceptible to bursting as plastic pipes offer more flexibility meaning they can expand and contract therefore reducing the risk of bursting, but there’s an always an argument for both, take a look at our previous blog on copper vs plastic pipes for the full low down.


So, what can you do to prevent the cold affecting our pipes and boilers?  Read on for our expert tips and advice on keeping you warm this winter.



  • Insulation



A great way to prevent pipes from freezing is to insulate them, which is otherwise known as “lagging”.  By doing this, the pipes will retain heat, therefore reducing the possibility of bursting.  Common areas that require lagging are loft spaces which are the coldest part of a building.  Outdoor pipes or boilers that are installed in garages may also require pipe lagging, but a reputable installer will be able to advise on this if you are unsure.



  • Invest In A Frost Thermostat



A frost thermostat is a clever bit of kit that is attached to any pipework that is at risk of freezing.  It is designed to provide frost protection by switching the boiler or heating system on should it drop below a certain temperature, this is usually set around 5 degrees.  That way the pipes are not left to freeze in colder months.



  • Keep Your Heating on Low 



Granted this is an idea that divides people, but if ever there was a way to prevent pipes from freezing it’s by keeping them warm.  You could use a timer to set your heating at certain times of the day, or perhaps keep it on low overnight when temperatures plummet the most.  Either way, by keeping the heating ticking over, you are less likely to suffer the consequences of frozen pipes.



  • Service Your Boiler



We think nothing of servicing our cars, so why not our boiler?  Ok, so you might grumble when it comes to paying for the car service but peace of mind is worth every penny right?  So why not treat your home the same as your car, after all if we’re not in one, we’re in the other.  A service is designed to check for potential leaks, corrosion or fumes, but your plumber will also confirm that all parts are in working order and check the gas pressure.



  • Boiler Maintenance



So that's your boiler service ticked off, but what about things you can do throughout the year as part of boiler maintenance?  Start by giving it the once over by checking for any cracks, smells or strange noises, then if in doubt give your local plumber a call as a small call out fee is much more palatable than forking out for a new boiler should something go wrong!



  • Bleed Your Radiators



When air is trapped in your radiators it can prevent them from heating up properly, this is especially common when the colder months set in as heating systems have likely been off for the summer, therefore, the best way to keep your heating system in full working order is to bleed your radiators before the weather turns. You may notice cold spots or gurgling sounds around some of your radiators at times, this is also an indication that your radiators need bleeding.  And remember, always bleed radiators when the heating is off or has cooled as you don’t want to burn yourself when you release the air!


Check out our blog on radiator maintenance for more handy tips.



  • Outdoor Taps and Hosepipes



As winter sets in it pays to drain any outdoor hose pipes and move them to warmer climates, such as a garage or shed for example, this will prevent them from cracking, meaning you’ll still have your trusty garden essential come the first signs of spring.  We also recommend draining any outdoor taps that are not going to be in use.  Simply close the indoor valve but leave the outdoor one open as this will allow any water to drain out without the worry of a pressure build up should it become frozen.


For more information on how to prepare pipework and boilers, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team on 01543 675211 who are more than happy to help.  Alternatively shop our extensive range of heating essentials including smart controls, copper pipe accessories and plastic pipe fittings.