Protect and maintain your home this winter!

Protect and maintain your home this winter!

Boiler Maintenance Guidance
With winter fast approaching and the current energy price crisis, the temptation for many residents may be to keep their heating system off to save money, however this could have a detrimental impact on both their property and neighbouring properties alike.

For tips on how to minimise energy costs and reduce the risk and impact of escape of water incidents, please review the advice below.

Central Heating Systems
Boilers and heating systems should be serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer on an annual basis. A legal
requirement for landlords with tenants, the importance of servicing and safety checks should not be overlooked by owner/occupiers. One in six homes inspected by the Gas Safe Register are typically found to have unsafe gas appliances. Heating systems should also be left operational between October and April to ensure the ambient temperature of the building is high enough to prevent the possibility of water pipes and tanks freezing. Maintaining a minimum temperature of 4°C is recommended at all times during the day and the night. Frost thermostats should be fitted to ensure that boilers and heating systems automatically come
on in colder periods.

Escape of Water
Where adequate heating cannot be maintained, or in unheated areas, all accessible pipework (including loft spaces) should be lagged with good quality lagging. Ideally, portable heaters should not be used as these may create additional fire risks. Occupants should know the location of the stopcock to ensure the water supply can be quickly turned off in an emergency and any water damage and cost of lost metered water minimised. If a pipe is frozen, pipes should be isolated by closing the stopcock on the feed from the tank or main. Blowlamps or any form of naked flame should never be used to thaw a frozen pipe. Household contents
which might be damaged by thawing water should be protected or removed before thawing.

Unoccupied Premises
Where buildings are permanently unoccupied, it is recommended that all water pipes, tanks, and heating systems are drained, and water supplies disconnected. Where buildings are temporarily unoccupied, heating systems should be kept on.

Encourage your occupants to:
• Ensure an annual central heating boiler service by a Gas Safe registered engineer has been carried out.
• Early Autumn, check all visible pipe and water tank lagging within the property, including loft spaces.
• Arrange for any exposed pipework to be insulated with foam tubing.
• Check any external water taps and protect with insulation to protect from frost.
• Check any boiler condensate pipes that terminate externally are insulated as they are also at risk of freezing which can result in boilers shutting off when needed most.
• Check radiators are working efficiently and bleed to remove any trapped cold air.
• Ensure any obvious repairs are undertaken promptly to minimise the risk of damage to the boiler, such as water leaks and overflows from condensate outlets.
• Be familiar with the location of their stopcock and make sure it works.
• Always maintain a minimum temperature of 4°C between October – April.
• During warmer months, periodically turn heating on for a short time to prevent parts seizing due to lack of use.
• Remember buildings insurance will not cover damage caused by poor maintenance or wear and tear.
• Be prepared for an emergency and know what to do and who to call.
• Report any claims quickly to get support and help to minimise any further damage and disruption.
Top Tips
• Act now – demand for plumbers and emergency call out costs will increase during cold spells.
• Reducing thermostat temperatures e.g. from 23°C to 20°C can result in significant savings.
• Consider installing smart radiator valves or a smart thermostat.
• Adjust smart thermostats so boilers shut off when the relevant room is up to temperature.

Buildings Insurance
Buildings Insurance is in place to repair damage caused by insured events such as storm damage, fire, vandalism, escape of water and flood. Many of these events can be unforeseen and out-with your control. The majority of all insurance claims within blocks of flats are due to damage caused by water leaks (Escape of Water). Water damage can cause substantial damage and costs, not to mention disruption, stress and possible conflict between neighbours. So, it is important to carry out regular checks within your property that can help prevent making insurance claims, or at least minimise the resultant damage.

Bathrooms and Toilets
Check the mastic beads around your bath and shower, these allow water to run from your tiles and back into the bath or shower tray. If the mastic seal has imperfections or is damaged, water will always find a way to run down the back of your bath or shower, and eventually make its way through the ceiling below. Check the grout on tiled surfaces especially around wet areas. Gaps in grout can run the risk of water leaking into the room or property below. Check toilets. Listen out for irregular sounds during the flush cycle. If it takes longer than normal to refill, or you notice a humming sound, the valve may need replacing or adjusting via the inlet washer. Cracks on tiles/wet wall can lead to water seeping through and causing damage to your own property or the property below. Dripping taps are often caused by faulty valves. It is always advisable to instruct a professional tradesman when carrying out works.

Check the mastic beads around your kitchen worktop and around your sink. Water can penetrate through weak or damaged points in the mastic and has the potential to damage cupboards and flooring. The areas of damage are more likely to occur around areas where water is used frequently; taps, draining boards, kettles. Under the sink is usually the central plumbing hub where your dishwasher and washing machine, isolation valves and the waste from your sink, are usually located. Carry out a thorough inspection to make sure there are no visible leaks. Frequent vibration from a washing machine can cause plumbing to become loose. So, it is worth carrying out frequent checks on the water hose as this is a major cause of leaks.

Check your radiators, valves and exposed pipework for leaks and any signs of corrosion and rust. Leaking radiators must be fixed. The damage to flooring, carpets and floorboards could be a lot more serious and expensive than you might think.

It is a legal requirement for landlords to have their boiler system serviced once a year. For homeowner occupiers this is not a legal requirement. However, boiler systems should be serviced regularly, as this will help identify possible faults or leaks.

Water Supply
Being able to turn off the water supply easily, if water is leaking, could save thousands of pounds of damage and reduce insurance premiums. So, what do you need to know about the stopcock valve in your property? Know where the stopcock valve is located. Speedy access can reduce water damage. Is the stopcock valve easy to turn, or is it rusted? It is good preventative maintenance to spray WD40 or similar agent around the valve. Make sure family members know where the stopcock valve is located. Carry out an annual test of the stopcock valve.


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