Tips for tenants on protecting their homes from winter weather

Winter has been mild so far, but we never know when a cold snap is around the corner. Cold winter weather can place increased pressure on the Council’s Housing Repairs and Improvements Service.

Winter has been mild so far, but we never know when a cold snap is around the corner. Cold winter weather can place increased pressure on the Council’s Housing Repairs and Improvements Service.

By following some simple tips our tenants can help make sure that avoidable repairs are minimised, and that our staff are available to respond to emergency repairs.

A common cause of household damage during cold spell is when household pipes freeze up and burst. There are quick and easy things you can do to prevent this happening:

• Tenants should know how to use the heating system properly and where the stop valves are. If you don’t know, you can call our Repairs Centre on 0845 30 11 110.

• Keep the heat in. Fit draught proofing, insulate your home and lag your pipes.

• Keep your heating on overnight at a low temperature so pipes won’t freeze – simply turn your thermostat down to 15 degrees centigrade.

• Swift repairs to dripping taps and ball valves can help to prevent freezing pipes, as can salt placed in the waste traps of sinks, baths, basins and WCs.

• If tenants are planning to leave their house unoccupied for a prolonged period of time during winter, they can ask the Repairs Centre to turn off the water and drain the plumbing. This will prevent pipes from freezing while the house is empty. Our staff can arrange a visit to refill your tank once you return.

• If you are going away for just a few days, you should leave the heating on a low temperature while you are away, and ensure pre-payment meters have enough credit in them.

If your pipes do freeze:

• If pipes which are part of the hot water system become frozen turn off or extinguish the source of heat (immersion heather, gas boiler, coal fire back boiler).

• Turn off the supply of water at the stop valve.

• Before attempting to thaw the pipe remove or protect anything which might be damaged if the pipe bursts.

• Gently heat the frozen section of pipe using a fan heater, hairdryer, hot water bottle or heated cloths wrapped round the pipe.

If your pipes burst:

• Turn off the water at the main stop valve in the house. Turn on all the taps. Switch off the boiler and switch off the immersion or water heating systems (extinguish your coal fire if you use a back boiler).

• Turn off the electrical supply (electricity and water is a bad combination).

• Contact the Repairs Centre on 0845 30 11 110.

• Warn neighbours if they are likely to be affected.

• If water is coming through the ceiling, collect it in buckets/containers and move items likely to be damaged.

If tenants do have a serious issue, the Repairs Centre will be available over the Christmas and New Year period on 0845 30 11 110. This number should be for used emergency calls only.

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