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Keep warm, keep well – cold weather advice

Protecting yourself and your home from cold weather is vital during the winter months.  

During our busy periods we will work hard to get to everyone as quickly as possible but it may be necessary to prioritise those where there is a disability/vulnerability identifed or complete heating failure and/or no hot water and where there are children under the age of 5, or people over the age of 70. 

Preparing for Winter 

Don’t leave it too late – make sure you get your flu jab and make sure your home is ready before the cold weather arrives. 

Top Tips 

  • Get your flu jab if you are eligible (It’s free for people over 65, anyone with a long term condition, carers, pregnant women and young children). Speak to your GP or pharmacist for more information. 
  • Keep your bedroom windows closed at night. 
  • Make sure you have enough food and supplies in the house if a cold snap is forecast. 
  • If you take medications make sure you take them regularly and have enough in stock in case you can’t get out of the house.

Who is more at risk from the cold? 

  • Over 65s 
  • Children under 5 years old
  • Pregnant women 
  • People with a long term health condition such as diabetes, respiratory illnesses, heart, liver or kidney disease or neurological disease
  • People with a weak immune system 
  • People with a disability.

Prevent your pipes from freezing 

The following tips will help stop the pipes in your home from freezing: 

  • Turn your heating on for short periods throughout the day and night.
  • Leave the heating on at a low level when you are away from home. This can be done by lowering the main heating control thermostat and turning thermostatic radiator valves down but not off. Consider leaving a key with a family member, friend or neighbour who can check your home regularly.
  • Don’t leave taps dripping or running as the water in waste pipes can freeze.
  • Allow hot air from the main house into the loft, this may mean opening a trap door during extreme cold periods.
  • Open the cupboard under the sink to ensure warm air can circulate round the piping.
  • Ensure that all doors throughout the house are slightly open for warm air to flow around the house.

How to deal with frozen pipes 

Most frozen pipes are found in the roof space and below sink units. 

  • Turn the water supply off at the stopcock. The stopcock is a valve for turning off and on the cold water system in your home. Stopcocks are usually found in your kitchen below the sink unit. However, in some houses the stopcock is found in a front or back hall. Please ensure that you know where the stopcock is located. You can shut off the supply by turning the stopcock in a clockwise direction. To turn the supply back on, turn the stopcock in an anti-clockwise direction.
  • To thaw frozen pipes put hot water bottles or a thick cloth soaked in hot water over the frozen pipe. A hairdryer at its lowest setting can also be used. Please be careful not to warm the pipes too quickly as this may lead to the pipe bursting. It is important that you thaw along the pipe starting from the end nearest the tap.

What to do if a pipe bursts 

  • Turn off the stopcock by turning it clockwise.
  • Try to block the escaping water with thick cloths such as towels to stop the leak spreading.
  • Turn off your central heating, immersion heater and any other water heating systems. If the central heating uses solid fuel, let this die out.
  • Once you have shut down your water heating, turn on all your taps to drain the system. Flushing your toilet several times may help.
  • If water leaks near anything electrical switch off the mains electricity immediately. If the mains switch is wet, don’t touch it as you risk electrocution.

Common faults with gas heating 

Frozen condensate pipes 

Modern boilers produce significant volumes of condensate (water) which normally discharges into a gulley. In very cold weather this condensate may freeze particularly where it discharges to an external gulley. To prevent this you can place a hot water bottle on the pipe close to where it discharges (this advice also applies to some oil boilers). In exceptional circumstances, we may need to disconnect the condensate pipe internally and allow it to drain into a basin. The basin will need to be emptied regularly and the pipe reconnected when the weather improves. 

Frozen gas regulators 

There may be a small amount of water vapour in the gas regulator which if it freezes will cause the gas supply to your boiler to fail. You should cover your meter with a towel or old clothing to provide some insulation. Place a hot water bottle on the regulator (grey metal fitting on the top left hand side of the meter) and remove once it has thawed any ice. Dry the regulator immediately. 

Boiler problems 

We all have issues with our boilers from time to time. But it’s not always necessary to contact us to fix problems with your boiler. Sometimes a boiler problem can be solved with a quick DIY fix. There are a number of quick fixes you can do to try to fix your boiler problem  

Home contents insurance 

Please be aware that it is your responsibility to insure your home contents. Choice insures the buildings only. Any damage to your property, regardless of the cause, is not insured by Choice. 

Help your neighbour 

During extreme weather conditions please check on your neighbours if they are elderly, have a disability or are housebound as it can be a difficult time for them to get out and about. A friendly visit from a neighbour will be appreciated. 

Are you dreading winter this year? 

Perhaps you’re worried about how to pay for your heating bills? If you have concerns about paying for your heating, there is help and advice available. 

Being too cold can cause problems for your breathing and lead to a bad chest or more serious illnesses such as a stroke or heart attack. 

Are you receiving the right benefits? 

 Halton Housing has a dedicated team of Welfare Benefit and Money Advice experts who are here help our customers with any welfare, money or benefit advice. The team can be contacted through the Halton Housing App or by emailing: welfare@haltonhousing.org, telephone: 07801548205. 

Are you eligible for the Warm Home Discount Scheme? 

You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2018 to 2019 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme. 

For further information about staying warm and healthy this winter visit Halton Borough Council’s Stay Warm, Stay Healthy this Winter website.

Related Help & Support Articles

Find helpful articles on finding your next home with Halton Housing, and how to apply for a home here.

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