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Short cuts lead to burst pipes and costly repairs says boiler expert

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The recent cold weather has caused real problems for many householders whose drains and pipework have frozen and burst.

Properties with external pipework have been most at risk and Martyn Bridges of Worcester Bosch points the finger at short-cuts in boiler installation for the thousands of call outs and disruption we’ve all been hearing about recently.

He calls for new policy to ensure better practice so that we don’t end up in the same mess when temperatures drop significantly in future winters.

What causes frozen pipes?

As modern condensing boilers produce around a litre of condensate per hour, there’s a fairly significant quantity of condensate to be disposed of each day – particularly in cold weather when the boiler is working harder than usual.  It’s this condensate, which sits in the pipes and causes problems when temperatures plummet.

Regulations launched in 2014 mandate internal routing for pipework to safely dispose of boiler condensate, only allowing externally run pipework to be used as a last resort.

However Martyn Bridges believes that in a lot of cases, regulation has been ignored and condensate pipework has been run externally for ease, when an internal termination would have been possible and should have been used.

Bridges calls for policy-makers to ensure that all building regulations, standards and policies are aligned to prioritise this and the installation of other mechanical services in the home.  Firmer legislation to stamp-out short-cuts that lead to costly repair bills for homeowners and insurers.

He said, during the height of the cold weather last month ‘As the freezing temperatures rolled in, many homeowners were left unprepared. You only have to look at the thousands of homes still relying on deliveries of bottled water to see how serious the effects can be.”


How can you help your customers avoid frozen and burst pipes?

During very cold weather, the pipes most at risk are those in unheated interior spaces such as basements, attics, and garages, but even pipes running through cabinets or exterior walls can freeze.

Five tips for avoiding frozen pipes

Here are five top tips to pass on to your customers – to help keep their water running and houses dry during a big freeze:

  • Keep garage doors closed, particularly if water supply lines run through the garage
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing
  • Let cold water drip from the tap. Running water through the pipe—even at a trickle—helps prevent pipes from freezing
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during day and night. If you plan to be away, keep the heating running on low -to maintain an even temperature when you’re gone
  • Take a look at your insulation and make sure it’s up to the job. Seal cracks around doors and windows to keep cold air out

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