Our top tips for winter gas safety
As the temperatures drop and the cold weather sets in for the winter, the majority of UK households will rely on a gas boiler to keep warm. But what happens if something goes wrong with your central heating and you’re left in the cold? Luckily for you, we’ve got some great winter home safety tips to make sure you stay safe and warm this season.
7 home tips to follow this winter
1. Get your boiler serviced
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to book a boiler service with a registered Gas Safe engineer. Having your boiler serviced before the winter will ensure that it is adequately prepared to fulfil your heating requirements in the colder months. If there are any minor issues, your gas engineer will be able to spot and fix them, reducing the likelihood of a boiler breakdown and with it, expensive repairs.
We’d usually recommend having your boiler serviced in the summer, rather than in winter, as it’s just more practical. Gas engineers aren’t usually as busy at this time of year, as fewer people are using their boilers, resulting in fewer breakdowns. This may mean they offer boiler services at a discounted price. A summer boiler service will also give you the peace of mind that your boiler is in good health for the winter when you’re bound to use it more.
Boiler services typically cost between £75 and £100 and should be carried out annually. You can, however, save on the cost of a boiler service by taking out boiler cover with free boiler servicing included.
2. Take out boiler cover
Unfortunately, no matter how good your boiler is, you can never rule out a boiler breakdown, especially in winter. It’s always best to prepare for the worst. So get your boiler serviced and take out boiler cover.
Having boiler cover can save you time, money and stress if your boiler breaks down in the winter. Boiler insurance packages vary from one provider to the next but typically will provide cover for your gas boiler, flue and its controls. If anything goes wrong, simply phone up your provider, make a claim and they’ll send out a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer to fix the problem.
Boiler insurance should cover the cost of labour, repair work and parts. Some policies may require a call-out charge or excess to be paid, so always make sure you know the ins and outs. It’s also worth looking out for extras like free annual boiler servicing, 24/7 helplines and discounted boiler replacement if your existing boiler is beyond economical repair.
We’d recommend comparing boiler cover online to check out your options and make sure you get the best deal. You may also want to consider upgrading to central heating cover, which offers cover for your wider central heating systems (radiators and pipes), in addition to boiler cover.
3. Draught Proof your home
To stay safe and warm during the colder period, it’s a good idea to winterproof your home. That way, if your boiler or central heating does fail, you’ll be able to manage until a gas engineer can fix it.
One way you can improve your home this winter is by draught proofing. If there are any holes in your walls or gaps under doors, it’s worth patching them up to stop heat from escaping. Use tape or filler to cover holes and draught excluders in front of your doors. You can also buy thicker curtains to keep the heat in during winter.
4. Lag your gas boiler condensate pipe
One of the best boiler tips for winter is to lag your pipes. Lagging is essentially a type of insulation that will prevent your boiler pipes freezing in the winter. You can pick it up fairly cheaply from good DIY stores and install it yourself in a matter of minutes.
A pipe you definitely need to insulate is your boiler condensate pipe. If this freezes in the winter, it may stop your boiler from working properly and could leave you pretty chilly! Lagging your condensate pipe will provide boiler freeze protection and help to winterproof your central heating system.
5. Invest in a back-up heating source
If you have the budget, it may be a good idea to invest in a back-up heating appliance. That way, if something does go wrong with your gas boiler or central heating, you will still be able to warm up your home safely.
Log burners and open fires are a great alternative to gas boilers but if you don’t have either of these installed, you may want to consider an electric space heater. Be aware that it will be a little more expensive to run, however, used sparingly and in times of need, it will prove very beneficial.
While we’re on the topic of alternative heating methods, it’s worth mentioning that you should never use outdoor heating appliances in your home. They can release harmful fumes and gases like carbon monoxide, which if inhaled can cause serious brain damage and even death. Stay safe and stick to heating appliances intended for indoor use only.
6. Bleed your radiators
If your radiators don’t feel like they’re warming up, it may not necessarily mean your boiler has broken. Instead, they could just have pockets of air trapped inside them, causing cold spots. To get rid of the air and allow your radiators to heat from top to bottom, you’ll need to bleed them using a radiator key.
7. Check boiler pressure
If you’re heating is taking a while to come on or your boiler isn’t heating your water properly, it could be a sign that there’s something wrong with the pressure. Go to your boiler’s control panel and check the pressure gauge. It should be at one bar. You can use the valve handle on your system to increase the pressure, following your boiler manufacturer’s instructions for guidance.
If this doesn’t fix the problem, your boiler or its pipework may be leaking. We’d recommend getting in touch with your boiler care provider or a gas engineer, who will be able to troubleshoot your boiler and find a solution.
We hope our winter safety tips prove useful in helping you stay safe and warm this season. If you have any questions or need advice on the best boiler care in time for winter, contact our friendly team on 0800 368 9881.