Fend off freezing weather

Arctic conditions have gripped the country, with snow and ice causing chaos as temperatures have plummeted.

Our homes go through a lot in winter, but cold weather can really hit them hard. Finding out your heating isn’t up to scratch when the thermometer hits minus numbers isn’t ideal, but thankfully MyBuilder tradespeople are out in all conditions making quick fixes and home improvements across the country.

If your home is struggling with sub-zero conditions, here are some things you can do:

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Radiators

It’s a horrible sensation - switching on the heat and waiting for your home to warm up, only to realise the radiators are still cold to the touch.

In many cases, it might just be that your radiator needs bleeding. If air gets into the system, it can create bubbles that block up the pipework in the radiator, keeping the hot water from flowing and causing cold patches. Bleeding a radiator simply involves releasing the valve and letting the excess air out - once water starts to dribble through, you can close it again.

If there are problems across multiple radiators it could be a sign of larger issues in your heating system, and it could be worth getting a heating engineer to investigate.

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Pipes

A frosty night isn’t often enough to cause the water in our pipes to freeze, but the past week of minus temperatures can certainly do the job.

The most vulnerable pipes are those in our home that are in unheated spaces - either external pipes, if you have taps in the garden, or in spaces like garages, lofts and attics.

It’s a good idea to keep these pipes insulated where you can, covering at least the top of the pipe. If you find a frozen pipe, you can warm it up yourself, using things like a hot water bottle or a towel soaked in warm water, or even a hairdryer. Never use anything like a blowtorch or lighter, which risks damaging the pipe even further. Keep the tap on to help relieve the pressure, with the stoptap closed.

If a pipe has burst, turn the stoptap off immediately and hire a plumber who can fix or replace the pipe.

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Roofs

The persistent snow that parts of the country have seen can be a real issue for roofs. Snow can be surprisingly heavy when it builds up, putting pressure on weaker roofs, especially older flat roofs which don’t have any pitch to help the snow slide off.

You can try and clear snow yourself, as you would with your car, but don’t climb on any roofs in cold and slippy conditions - using a broom, you can try and remove excess snow from ground level, to relieve the pressure on garage, shed, and conservatory roofs.

If you’re concerned about the condition of any roofs, speak to a professional roofer who can assess any damage.

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Trees

Like roofs, trees can suffer from the weight of snow, especially when freezing conditions can make branches more brittle. Falling branches have knock-on effects for our homes, as they can damage roofs, guttering, cabling and satellite dishes - not to mention anyone who happens to be stood in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A tree surgeon is best placed to see if your trees are at risk, or to handle any that have already suffered damaged. If any trees need to cut back or brought down and removed, they can handle it safely, whatever the weather.

3 Comments

  1. We live in NE Scotland, Aberdeenshire at 700ft, 22 miles from Aberdeen. Since snow on Christmas day we have had incredibly icy conditions since then with all paths, thoroughfares turned to sheet ice, need crampons to walk. Last week the snow came and we are completely snowed in, all garden features submerged, walls, patio. We have kept a snow shovel width path open round house and outhouses with shovelled snow at shoulder height. Sorry you don't know you're alive down south. We have to keep on top of everything you've
    mentioned with a vegeance or disaster can strike!!!

  2. I would add: instal a safe thermostatic heater in loft and cold WCs etc. to have on in freezing conditions. Turn boiler to “cold winter” if you have that ability. Keep central heating on overnight. Turn water off overnight using a ‘surestop’ device, supplied & fitted £100 or so, to prevent icy water entering house to fill cisterns etc. used in the night. I lagged the outside water escape pipe. I laid plastic glazing on the ground where the water inlet pipe enters. The condensate pipe outside is lagged. Open cupboard doors in kitchen that contain pipes. My home has frozen up at higher temperatures than last nights -9and I credit the above suggestions especially the Surestop switch (so easy, no grappling with brass stopcock) loft heater and overnight heating.

  3. Thank you, that information was most useful.

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