How to look after your plumbing and heating in winter

The harsher and colder weather we face during the winter can cause our plumbing and heating systems some issues, which isn’t ideal as this is usually the time we rely on our plumbing and heating most throughout the year to keep us warm and dry.

Below we have outlined some steps you can take to help prepare your home for the winter months and given our advice to ensure you know what to do if you face a plumbing emergency.

Plumbing and heating systems that are well maintained are less likely to have any problems when the temperatures drop. If you regularly service your appliances and become familiar with your plumbing system, then any potential problems can be found and dealt with before they become more serious. You should be checking your pipes for any leaks, cracks or damage on a regular basis and removing any debris from drains.

As part of this, locating your internal stop tap is really important so that you can turn off your water supply if there is an emergency. These are usually located under the kitchen sink in domestic properties and you should easily be able to turn the stop tap on and off should you ever need to.

During the colder months the risk of freezing pipes is increased. You should check the pipes inside your home are lagged and protected before the cold weather hits. By insulating your pipework you can help to prevent pipes from freezing and causing further issues. If you do find yourself facing a frozen pipe you should turn off your water using the stop tap and slowly thaw the pipe using hot water or hot air and open the affected tap to allow the melted water to escape.

If a pipe bursts during the winter, then you need to again, turn off the water supply, turn on all your taps and try to minimise the damage by soaking up the water with towels/bowls. In this instance, you’ll need to call out a plumber.

Plumbers are in high demand during the winter and colder weather and you might need to find someone at short notice, but it is important to make sure that you hire someone who is reputable and qualified.

Our advice for finding yourself a professional plumber is:

  • Look for a member of a trade association, such as APHC, who will verify a trader’s qualifications and
  • Check the trader’s credentials. Are they registered with Gas Safe? Do they have the right insurance? It is worth taking the time to check any memberships or insurance documents are up to date.
  • Before confirming a call-out check how much you will be charged. In an emergency a reputable trader will provide a cost for the call-out and rates for on-going time spent on the job. Customers should never feel pressurised into accepting work without a full explanation.
  • Using an online directory is one of the best ways to find a registered plumber. All of APHC’s approved contractors are added to our online directory so you have one central place to find your chosen trader from any location in the UK or Wales.

Use APHC’s search facility to find a qualified and reliable plumbing and heating engineer local to you: APHC members | Find APHC members | Approved Contractors