Don’t let plumbing problems be a drain on your Christmas

You might be looking forward to Christmas but it is easy to forget how dependent we are on our plumbing systems – so now is the right time to put a bit of effort into preparing for the winter months to ensure your plumbing is in tip-top working order, particularly if you are playing host to a big gathering.

Kitchens, toilets, showers and baths will work a lot harder during these periods than at other times throughout the year so you have to be prepared in order to avoid having to call a drain cleaning expert.

In the kitchen, avoid throwing cooking fats and oils down the drain. The cold will make them set even faster. In winter a clog could be very inconvenient to deal with, even for the most experienced emergency plumbers. Pour fat into an old drink carton and put it in the bin.

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To keep drains clear and flowing to avoid a call-out it is a good idea to run some cold water down the drain before and after using it. This helps to ensure that any small particles stuck to the sides of the pipes are washed away.

In order to avoid any uncomfortable moments with suddenly varying water temperatures, try to do the washing up when none of your guests are using the shower.

Showers should be spread out around 15 minutes apart. In order to maximise your boiler’s efficiency, avoid family and guests taking showers one after another. You can also turn the water temperature up to ensure everyone has a nice warm shower.

Finally, ensure that your pipes are properly prepared for the winter. Frozen pipes can burst and lead to severe damage. Always know where your water main is so that you can turn it off in an emergency. Drain all of your garden hoses and lag all of the exposed pipes around your house.

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These simple steps can not only help make your home more energy-efficient, which will save you some money in the process, but they will also help to prevent any major damage as a result of the winter.

Here are a few other tips to help protect your plumbing and drains for the rest of the winter:

1. Locate and label your main stop valve. It is on the incoming mains water supply and is often under the kitchen sink.

2. Stop valves tend to corrode slightly with time, so once every six months check that it’s working by exercising the valve twice from fully open to fully closed and back again (and always back the valve off ‘half a turn’ from fully open once you’re done).

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3. Make sure that all your pipes and storage tanks are properly lagged and covered, especially in cooler roof areas and attics.

4. Open the loft door to warm the roof area in very cold weather. This will stop the pipes up there from freezing up (but it will push up your heating bills - so lagging pipes is a better idea).

5. Inspect cold water cisterns (they are probably in your loft) annually. If there are any signs of corrosion or leaking, contact a reputable plumber.

6. Leave the heating on a low temperature to maintain circulation and warmth if you are going away for a few days.

7. Bleed radiators for maximum efficiency.

8. Keep curtains closed to retain heat in the home.

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9. Insulate/lag any pipes in exposed areas where they could freeze.

10. Isolate, drain and insulate any outside taps and pipework.

11. Try to avoid pouring fat down drains, as it will solidify fast in cold weather.

12. Plumbing is becoming increasingly technical. Always seek a qualified professional plumber such as Drain Doctor Plumbing, available 24 hours a day on 0800 3357 999.

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