Warning for residents as cold snap bites in Northumberland

Snow at 
Alnwick Moor. 
Picture by Jane Coltman
Snow at Alnwick Moor. Picture by Jane Coltman

With temperatures in the North East plummeting, British Gas is forecasting an increase in calls to its customer services team next week and is urging residents to take action.

British Gas expects engineer call outs to increase by five per cent in the region as boiler breakdowns and problems with appliances surge during the cold weather.

Next week, its engineers are set to visit more than 1,460 homes in the North East. Nationally, British Gas will deploy its fleet of more than 8,000 engineers to homes that might be experiencing difficulties.

Stephanie Walker, a local engineer that covers the region, is urging residents to get their homes ready for the colder weather.

Stephanie says “With snow setting in over the next few days, we’re expecting an increase in call outs to residents to fix broken boilers and appliances.

“We’re on hand to support families with home emergencies, but before the cold weather sets in residents can do some simple practical checks around the home to avoid a winter disaster.”

She is offering some tips that she often shares with customers to help them make sure their homes are warm and working during a cold snap.

1: Bleed your radiators to make sure they are working properly. If your radiators have cold spots at the top, this means you have air in the system, so you will need to bleed them to get them working efficiently.

a) To do this, turn the system off and when cool turn the radiator key until the air stops and water runs consistently. Once you have turned the system back on, the problem should be solved;

b) Cold spots in the bottom or centre of the radiator may be an indication of sludge build up and the need for system flushing;

c) Bleeding your radiator may result in pressure dropping. If you have a pressure gauge make sure the boiler is at the right pressure and top up as necessary.

2: Block the breeze. Make sure all of your windows and doors seal properly to stop warm air escaping. For those that don’t, fitting draught excluders, which you can buy from most DIY stores, is a quick and cheap way to cut down on your energy bills.

3 Stay safe. It’s vital to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted and that you test it regularly. From October 1, 2015, it became a legal requirement for private landlords in England to install working carbon monoxide alarms in any room with a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.

4: Love your boiler. Check to make sure that your boiler is working properly before winter sets in. The older your boiler, the more inefficient it will be.

5: Wrap up your water tank and insulate hot water. The materials can be purchased from most DIY stores and help to conserve heat and save you money.

6: Insulate your pipes. Burst pipes are a huge issue during winter months. To help prevent burst pipes, ensure all pipes are properly insulated by using lagging, which can be bought cheaply from most DIY shops.

7: Be energy smart. Why not speak to your energy supplier about a smart meter. If you are a household customer, you can see how much energy you’re using, in pounds and pence, with a smart meter monitor. In turn this helps you to better understand your energy consumption and identify where you can make savings. For businesses, you can access our online tool, Business Energy Insight, which provides personalised information, alerts and energy efficiency tips.

8: Maintain your drains. If you’re trying to keep your drains outside well maintained, it’s a good idea to make sure they are clear of debris at the point at which they enter the ground. This involves checking your gullies for autumnal leaves and twigs in order to ensure that they don’t restrict water flow at any point.

9: Control your heating remotely with Hive Active Heating™. Using the Hive Active Heating™ app means you can control your heating and hot water remotely from your mobile, tablet or laptop – so you can ensure your home or business premise is warm when you need it to be.

Last winter, British Gas fixed more than 1.3million boilers and made nearly 250,000 visits to fix problems with white goods and electrics in the home. During the same period, the company fixed almost 11,000 commercial boilers for small to medium-sized businesses.

The company has an in-house meteorologist, whose role entails monitoring up to 30 different weather stations across the UK and assessing likely demand based on the workload British Gas engineers have undertaken amid similar weather conditions in the past.

By keeping an eye on these patterns and any sudden changes in the weather, it is possible to make sure the right number of engineers are prepared and ready to go out to customers as quickly as possible.

For added convenience, British Gas household customers can book, track and amend engineer appointments online within seconds.