What is the worst time to be faced with a heating, plumbing or electrical emergency?

Answer: There is, of course, no good time to have your home disrupted, but the Christmas period is certainly more pressured than most.

While it’s really important to call in an expert to deal with an emergency, unless you are completely confident in fixing it yourself, we can offer some steps you can take to resolve the initial impact when it happens.

Let’s explore some common home disasters and how you might handle them.

Your boiler loses pressure

A boiler emergency in the winter months is always a pain. You lose heating and hot water, and your home feels miserable. Right at the time when you might be inviting friends and family over to your place, you don’t even want to be there.

One of the most common reasons for the lack of hot water is a loss of water pressure. The good news is that this is easy to diagnose and potentially put right for yourself.

There are two reasons a boiler might show low pressure. The first is your radiators may need bleeding. The pressure requires a free flow of water around the heating system, and if hot air is blocking its path, the pressure will fall. It is a good idea to bleed all your radiators before reacting to the loss of pressure in other ways.

The second reason for your pressure loss might be that you need to repressurise the system.

First, check your boiler manual for instructions on how to repressurise your combi boiler and whether you can do this yourself.

Then, switch off your boiler and allow it to cool completely. Identify the pressure gauge and also the filling loop (check that both ends are securely attached). Open the valves to allow cold water to enter the system, keeping an eye on the pressure gauge. Close both when the pressure gauge gets up to 1.5 bar, turn the boiler back on and recheck the pressure. Only carry this action out if you feel confident to do it. If not, call out the experts.

It could also be that you have a leak somewhere in the boiler. At this point, you will need the help of a Gas Safe engineer, as this specialist is the only person who should open your boiler to find this leak.

A significant escape of water

There are plenty of plumbing emergencies that you might face. From clogged sinks and toilets to leaky taps through to a backup in the sewer system, the problems can be unpleasant but relatively simple to rectify. A quick search on YouTube will provide you with how-to videos for stemming the problem until you can get an engineer out to deal with the root cause.

A burst water pipe causing a significant escape of water is a different matter. The first thing you should do is shut down the water supply by turning off the water at the stopcock. This will immediately stem the flow of water and allow you to take remedial action, such as cleaning up the mess and calling out a plumber to fix the issue.

An electrical fault

There are plenty of common electrical problems you might face, from a loose outlet plug to a broken switch, all the way through to a regularly tripping breaker. While small problems with plugs and switches can be resolved by switching off the electricity and then swapping out the necessary components, the tripping of your breaker is more significant.

There are potentially two causes for your breaker to keep tripping: 1) you have a problem with the circuit breaker itself, and 2) your electricity is surging or dipping. Either one of these problems needs to be addressed by a professional who can work safely with electricity. It might be that you can switch the breaker back on at the fuse box, and it stays on for a while. However, you will want to understand what is causing the tripping to ensure your home is safe.

Paine Manwaring offers an emergency call-out service for all your home emergencies. Our trained plumbers, engineers, and electricians can diagnose and solve your problem in no time at all. There is no need to face a ruined Christmas when you have a team of trained experts at hand who can help.