Was it cold enough for you yesterday? Well, it’s going to get even chillier soon. Apparently this is all down to La Niña, a cyclical weather phenomenon less well known than her big brother El Nino but similar. So the long-term forecast seems to be that we’re in for a cold winter. Forewarned is forearmed – so it’s worth winter-proofing your home now.
First, check now that your boiler is working properly. It looks like we might get a respite from the really cold weather next week before it returns – so that’s a good time to get your boiler serviced. Find a local, registered engineer at www.gassaferegister.co.uk. A full service should cost less than £100 – and will be much cheaper than having to call someone out to fix a bust boiler in an emergency.
Burst pipes are a risk if the temperature plummets. Lloyds Bank Home Insurance received more than 900 claims for frozen pipes after the 2010 snow. It recommends that you set your thermostat to a minimum temperature of around 12 degrees centigrade even at night to make sure pipes don’t freeze. You should also disconnect any hosepipes, water features etc which are connected to outside water outlets. I’ve just done this (a hosepipe, not a Versailles-style fountain...).
You should also make sure exposed pipes outside the house or in garages etc are insulated. And also, check you’re prepared for an emergency: do you know where your stop cock is? Apparently it’s usually under the sink though mine is in the downstairs cloakroom. Have a hairdryer ready for a quick thaw-job if your pipes do block. You should also apparently bleed your radiators. I haven’t done this yet but it is on the list. There’s a guide how to do it here.
Other things to consider for winter-proofing your home: clear your gutters (or, more likely, pay someone to do it for you) so they aren’t blocked with leaves. Buy or make a draught excluder if you’ve got gaps under doors. If you’ve got a wood-burning fire then get your order in for wood soon – or take the kids for a walk to collect kindling. Exercise and free fuel!