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The winter weather can bring many challenges. Below we have listed some useful information to help you stay safe, warm and more comfortable this winter:

Gritting

Paradigm will only be gritting in our sheltered housing schemes. It is not practical for us to provide gritting facilities everywhere. We have, however, distributed grit bins to other locations with vulnerable residents and/or areas prone to icing such as slopes and steps, so residents can grit where needed.

Burst pipes

Burst and frozen water pipes can cause a lot of damage to your home. Here are some tips to help avoid it happening or what to do if pipes do freeze.

Frozen pipes

A frozen pipe can cause further problems, because it may burst causing thawed water to pour out from the break. The following steps describe what you should do as soon as you discover a frozen pipe:

  1. Turn off the water supply: At the main stop tap. You should find this under the kitchen sink, bathroom, downstairs toilet or where the water pipe enters your home. Turn off the stopcock in your cold water tank if you have one, it's usually found in the attic or loft. The hot water one is in the airing cupboard (marked with a red handle).
  2. Beat the burst: Protect everything around the frozen pipe to avoid damage if it bursts.
  3. Thawing out: Open the tap nearest to the part of the pipe you think is frozen so the water can flow through when it has melted.

Thaw the ice in the pipe with a hot water bottle or hairdryer (taking care to keep it well away from any water), beginning from the tap end and working back toward the cold water tank. Never use a heat gun or blow torch.

Preventing burst pipes
Try the following tips:

  1. If you have one, insulate your loft and the sides of your water tanks.
  2. Insulate all your pipes.
  3. If you have one, open the loft trap door on cold days to let heat in.
  4. If you're away for a while, then ask a friend or relative to check on your home and make sure pipes haven't burst or frozen.
  5. Re-washer dripping taps because if they freeze they'll block the pipe. This will also it will save up to a litre of water a day and your money if it's a hot tap.
  6. Make sure you know where your stop tap is and check regularly that you can turn it off easily in an emergency. It's handy to label it so you remember where it is in a panic.
  7. In very cold weather set the heating to be on low, or to come on a couple of times a day, especially if you're going away. Most modern boilers have a 'frost protection thermostat', which turns on automatically if the temperature drops to a level that will cause your pipes to freeze.

If a burst pipe leaks and water comes gushing through the ceiling, it can wreak real damage on your home and its contents. Even worse, burst pipes and leaks can be complicated to fix, repair work may also involve digging up your lawn, tarmac or paving. You can avoid this kind of damage by preventing burst pipes and leaks in the first place.

Keeping warm

  • Run your thermostat at mid-temperature throughout the day instead of a few hours in the morning and the evening as the walls of the building will retain heat
  • Turn your thermostat down by just one degree and you could cut your heating bills by up to 10 percent
  • Reduce temperatures while away and at night when in your bed
  • Hang curtains and blinds on your windows. Heat can escape through your windows, so make sure you draw the curtains or use your blinds to keep the heat in
  • Set the water temperature on your heater for around 60°C, which will be warm enough for bathing and washing
  • Layer your clothing. Lots of small, thin layers will keep you warmer than one thick sweater
  • If you’re due to have a gas service make sure you get it done to ensure your boiler is working efficiently as possible
  • If you have radiators, make sure all the valves are fully open so that you get an even heat throughout the house without any cold spots
  • If you have a gas boiler, make sure it is set to its maximum setting so that it can work at its peak efficiency; this will also work out to be more economical
  • If you have storage heaters, make sure they are set to fully charge at night when electricity is cheapest
  • Make sure you heat all rooms, including bathrooms, toilets and empty rooms - rooms which are not heated are liable to become damp and to drain the heat from the rest of the house

Tackle draughts

  • Windows and doors: Sealing all the draughts around windows and doors will keep you warmer and lower the cost of your bills. Draft excluders can be brought to draft proof these areas
  • Letterbox: Fit a nylon brush seal or spring flap to prevent draught
  • Wooden flooring: If you have wooden flooring be sure that you use quadrant moulding and sealants to finish the floor

Ventilate

  • Ventilation is just as important as insulation. Without the circulation of fresh air through your home, pollutants can accumulate and excess condensation can cause mould and mildew to grow.
  • Ensure air bricks and vents are not blocked
  • Don’t forget to keep your carbon monoxide detector fitted with fresh batteries. According to consumer reports, January is the deadliest month for carbon monoxide poisoning