A recent analysis has found that 40 per cent of all winter maintenance call outs could be avoided according to a London-wide home maintenance service, The London Team.
The company, which provides teams of plumbers, electricians and gas and heating engineers to home owners and renters across the capital, has conducted research into its database and believes that nearly half of all call outs relate to incidents which could have been prevented by simple measures that people could take themselves, without professional help. The London Team believes that on average savings of around £300-400 could be made by following some simple advice.
The company has now issued an action list, downloadable via the company’s website - www.thelondonteam.com - , to help Londoners prepare their homes for the onslaught of winter. The team believes that a few checks and precautions could help residents avoid unnecessary hassle and expense over the coming months.
Popular call outs include; no running water, in some cases down to fact that a neighbour in a block of flats has turned the water off without realising it’s a centralised system, leaks to neighbouring properties caused by un-lagged pipes and made worse by the fact that the property’s owner is away and not contactable, blocked sinks and drains, particularly from animal fat used around Christmas and air locks which stop water flow in the home caused by busy, festive households taking showers in quick succession without enough time for the system to refill.
Sebastian Seymour, CEO of The London Team explains: “This is a difficult time of year for any home owner or renter as the increased rainfall and lower temperatures tend to cause strain on properties, particularly older Georgian London buildings. However, there are simple, precautionary steps which people can take which will significantly reduce the chance of an emergency call out and diminish the amount of damage caused. If people are wondering why I’m happy to share the tricks of the trade, it’s because preventative action often means the damage is lessened and we can leave with a happy customer.”
Al Braithwaite, one of The London Team’s customers commented: “I wish I had called The London Team in earlier on, or taken their advice to avoid blockages. Overhead pipe-work ended up oozing foetid water onto some artwork that I own. I hadn’t quite cottoned onto the scale of the problem, but since The London Team came in to fix it all up I haven’t had to restore or throw out any more damaged works. The pipe-work is now entirely fixed and everything is great, I can sleep easy at night.”
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About The London Team
The London Team offers expert plumbers, electricians, gas engineers, heating engineers, decorators, handymen and security experts. It specialises in delivering a friendly and bespoke property service in and around London.
London Team spokespeople are happy to provide comment on home maintenance, safety and security issues. We also have case studies relating to these issues in the above areas.
The London Team Winter Tips
In order to try and avoid the unnecessary expense of a call out, the London Team offers the following advice:
Problem 1: Leaks
Leaks have a habit of happening when people go away and, if you’re in a block of flats, this can cause damage to a neighbouring property. Where access is needed to a property, the police have the right to break-in, causing additional damage and cost. It’s also worth remembering that householders are liable for damage caused to another property by leaks from their own.
Advice: Make sure that you leave a key with a trusted person who will be available or use a key holding service. It’s always advisable to turn off your water when you’re leaving your property for an extended period. But, if you live in flats, then it’s also worth checking whether your tap is centralised meaning you could turn off water for other people as well! Sometimes valves and taps will serve more than one home. Be sure that you’re not turning off everyone’s water and then leaving the country. And yes, we’ve seen this happen many times!
Problem 2: Burst Pipes
In freezing temperatures, external pipes are particularly vulnerable. Water freezes inside and causes the metal to expand and split, in some cases. When the temperatures rise above freezing, the pipes leak.
Advice: If you are away when the weather is expected to turn very cold then leaving your heating on a very low setting can prevent the water inside the pipes from freezing and also reduce the amount of power required to warm the home on your return.
Check the pipes going from your boiler to outside drains and make sure they are insulated. Modern boilers are very efficient but as they need to have a pipe that leads to a drain, this can sometimes freeze, blocking the boiler and causing problems. Simply insulating this with some cheap pipe lagging foam can help to prevent this and in cold weather it’s worth checking and defrosting the pipe with warm water.
Problem 3: Blocked toilets
Be careful what you flush down the toilet. Avoid anything other than toilet paper. Paper towels or baby wipes can cause an excellent plug which is extremely difficult to shift. Seasonal guests and parties can increase the strain on your drains.
Advice: Make sure you’ve got bins in bathrooms and if you’re expecting guests with very young children, keep some extra sealable waste bags for them to use for wipes.
4. Blocked sinks
Avoid pouring hot fat and other food waste down plugholes. It will quickly cool and solidify. For some reason, London Team plumbers have found that Christmas Day is especially bad for this as the mixture of food, drink and a festive atmosphere leads to people forgetting or taking less care.
Advice: Let everything cool then bag it up and put it for composting or in the bin.
4. Air locks
Cold water tanks can also run dry when there are more people in the house than usual, a problem which can also cause airlocks in the plumbing. These air locks prevent water running freely from the tap and it appears there is no water left at all.
Advice: Try to make sure that baths and clothes washing times are staggered to allow the water system to refill the tank. As little as ten minutes between showers should be enough.
5. Electricity trips
Make sure you know where the location of circuit breakers in your home and check that these have not tripped if you’re having electrical problems. It’s wise to check that cupboards with electrical switches aren’t too cluttered. The London Team frequently finds that objects can fall over and flick switches!
6. Outlet pipes
If you have a boiler with a condensate pipe, check that the pipe is plastic. Sometimes copper pipes are used and these are unsuitable as drainage outlets from boilers as they can corrode.
Advice: If you’re not sure, get an expert to look as this could lead to expensive problems.
7. Guttering leaks
Heavy downfalls of rain can push leaves through drainpipes and cause blockages.
Advice: clear leaves from gutters, if it’s safe for you to do so. If not, get an expert in to do this – puddles of water on the roof can cause major leaks and damp.
8. Fire prevention
Unplugging electrical items if you are going away is always advisable from a safety perspective.