Prevention is much better than cure, both for you and your pocket when it comes to central heating and winter plumbing problems for your lets. Below is a quick list of problems that may occur or things that you should take into account – it is by no means exhaustive.
We can carry out this and all your maintenance on a regular basis for all your lets.
Start off by giving your boiler an annual MOT. Not only will it make it more efficient (saving your tenant money on heating bills) but a well-maintained boiler is less likely to break down.
We recommend that you try to have your boiler serviced in the summer/autumn as this will give you enough time to have any work done before the cold sets in. Don’t wait until you need the heating on or you could be in for a long wait – according to research, October tends to be the most common month for heating systems to break down.
Just like cars, boilers and central heating systems don’t like to be out of action for months at a time, so put your heating on once a month for around 15 minutes even in summer. This will clear the boiler pump of any grit that’s gathered.
Bleed your radiators
We can carry out minor jobs like bleeding radiators. Not sure if they need it? If your tenants report that the radiators are hot at the bottom and cold at the top they probably do. If you don’t want us to carry it out for you then it’s easy to do yourself when you know how and all you need is a radiator key and a cloth to wipe any water that leaks out.
First turn off the heat, then find the square-shaped bleed valve (usually near the top of the radiator) and hold the cloth underneath it to catch the water. Gently release the valve with the radiator key and keep it open until the hissing of escaping air stops and water starts flowing. Then tighten the valve and move on to the next radiator.
If you have a combi boiler (one that heats water as and when you use it) you’ll need to check the system pressure after bleeding a radiator to make sure it’s within the right limits (ask your Gas Safe registered plumber what they are when you have your annual service).
Is corrosion a problem?
Corrosion isn’t just bad news for your washing machine, it can seriously damage your heating system too. There’s a very easy way to find out whether or not your system is at risk. Fill a small clean jar with water from a radiator vent (you can do this when you next bleed a radiator). Add a few steel nails (not galvanised ones) to represent the steel of your radiators and a penny to represent your pipe work into the water. Close the lid of the jar and leave it. If after three days the nails rust then the steel in your heating system is most definitely corroding. You will need to call in a plumber to treat your system and add a dose of Central Heating Protector.
Avoid frozen and burst pipes
There are ways to protect your pipes and tanks from extreme weather. Lag all external pipes and any internal ones that are exposed to extreme cold as well as your storage tank if it’s in a particularly cold part of the house.
Do you have a loft? Take a look at the water pipes and water storage tanks inside it and ask yourself whether the loft insulation is good enough to protect them from severe cold. Replace old-style felt lagging on pipes with the right foam insulation, checking that all joints and bends are covered too. One easy way to keep your loft warm in very cold weather is to open the loft hatch to let the warm air from your house circulate inside it.
Check batteries in smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Daylight saving time ends Nov. 1. Get into the habit of checking smoke-detector and Carbon Monoxide detector batteries when you “fall back” and “spring ahead.” Also make sure household fire extinguishers are fully pressurized and in good working order.
Ensure external plumbing systems are ready for winter
This is the most important job of autumn if you live in an area that freezes in the winter. The simple fact that water expands upon freezing has caused countless homeowners innumerable woes. Ignore this job and flooding, water damage and thousands of dollars worth of plumbing bills will be your constant winter companions.