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Preventative plumbing: Home maintenance before a holiday
Getting ready for a holiday can be stressful. And with so much to think about and plan for, it's all too easy to forget about what might happen while you're gone: energy bills, frozen pipes and potential leaks. So with the help of James from Plumber Parts, we’ve produced a series of videos on how you can keep your plumbing in top condition – so you hopefully won't need to call us at all. Here are a few simple home maintenance steps you can run through before you go away, leaving you relaxed, knowing that your house is protected:
1. Set up your heating systemIf you're going away for a long time, you don't want to rack up a huge bill by leaving your heating on all the time. On the other hand, you shouldn't leave it constantly off, especially when your plumbing might be in danger of freezing. Instead, you can set up your heating system so that it only kicks in when the temperatures start getting too low. First, turn your thermostat down to around 5 or 7 degrees. This means that your heating won't come on unless the temperature in your home falls below those numbers. Next, find your heating system programmer and set it so that it's constantly on: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some heating programmers will already have their own holiday settings, so look carefully at the instructions to make sure that the holiday settings won't interfere with your own.
2. Protect your loftWhen you're thinking about keeping your house warm while you're away, it's easy to forget this important home maintenance step. If you've got a cold water storage tank in the loft, your low heating settings might not be enough to keep it from freezing. Luckily, there's an easy fix. Just lift your loft hatch, and turn it so that each corner of the hatch rests on the middle of the edges of the frame. This should make enough space for the warm air in your house to move up into your loft, protecting the water tanks from getting cold enough to freeze.
3. Turn off your water supplyHopefully, your heating system should be able to stop your plumbing from freezing. But if you want to be extra careful with your home maintenance, you can turn off your water supply just in case. That way, if any of your pipes do freeze and burst, any leaking should be minimal. First, you'll need to find the main stopcock for your home. This is the valve that lets you cut off the water supply to the whole house, and it's usually found under your kitchen sink. Regardless of whether you're going away on holiday, it's important to find out where your stopcock is – if you ever have a messy plumbing emergency, you'll be glad you know how to turn off the water supply quickly. When you've found the stopcock, it might be difficult to turn. Start by working the stopcock handle back and forth until it begins to loosen, and then turn it clockwise, as far as it'll go, to shut off the water. You can see exactly how it's done in our handy video guide to turning off your water supply. Once the stopcock is fully closed, open the lowest tap in your water system to dissipate the pressure, and when no more water's coming out, you've switched off the supply.
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