Winter can be hard for the pipes and plumbing system of your home or business. Sudden, drastic changes in temperature coupled with high demands for hot water and heating mean that the system has to work on an almost constant basis and many people find that their systems fail just as they need them the most.
Luckily, many of the most common winter plumbing problems which you can experience with a boiler or plumbing system are quite easily fixed if you have a modicum of DIY skill.
Common problem: frozen tap
With a frozen tap, the key is to keep water running, because running water is virtually impossible to freeze. Therefore, use a little lukewarm (nothing hotter because hot water could crack the tap or cause the frozen water to expand too quickly) water to melt the ice and begin the flow again, and then leave the tap running slowly. You can use a water-butt to catch the water which can then be used for watering, car washing or other garden use and know that your tap won’t freeze again and cause damage to the internal pipes.
Common problem: frozen pipe
As with the problem above, lukewarm water is the key to defrosting a pipe. It’s always wise to pour slowly and use just enough to melt the frozen area so that water starts to flow again. However, cold temperature and high pressure mean that pipe freezing is a common and often constant problem. Therefore, if you can lag or pad out any pipes to keep them warm, you’ll save yourself the job of unfreezing them should the same thing happen again.
Common problem: flooding
Even in years where rain and snowfall have been scarce, flooding has still caused problems for homeowners, and many wonder why when there is so little in the way of falling precipitation. What they don’t consider is that the flooding isn’t happening because of an overabundance of water, it’s happening because of a lack of space for the water to run away safely. Therefore, if you’re experiencing flooding around grids and pipes, it’s worth checking for blockages. Autumn leaves can cause a mulch which can quickly block a drain. In addition, ice can also create a blockage so it’s always worth running some warm water through drains on a regular basis to ensure there are no frozen areas.
Common problem: lack of hot water
During the winter, you expect your heating system to work overtime and produce water for your radiators and heating system as well as hot water for you to wash in and clean with. This is a large amount of work for one system to do, and unsurprisingly some fail to keep up with the demand. Leaving gaps between showers and baths to allow the system to catch up will often solve the problem though.
Common problem: radiators failing to warm properly
In many cases an uneven radiator – especially one which is hot at the bottom and cold at the top – is caused by air trapped inside the radiator which needs to be bled out. This can be done using a radiator key and allowing the air to escape, and is a minor job which takes minutes.
Common problem: lack of heat
Boilers can often fail to work properly because they have either lost power or pressure. The first thing to do is to check for a blue flame in the boiler. If this has gone out, you’ll know that your radiator is failing to “kick in” because it lacks the power to do so. In some cases, you can simply press a button to reignite that pilot light but in other cases, you may need an engineer to reignite it. This will of course depend on the type of boiler you have. The same applies with the pressure of the boiler
If in doubt
It can be useful to know that you have the knowledge to solve small plumbing problems should you need to. However, it’s also useful to have an expert to turn to should the need arise. Bluewater Plumbers based in Manchester are available for all situations and jobs, both big and small and are available throughout the winter as emergency plumbers.