The 2019 Christmas weather forecast is for rain, rain and yet more rain - with maybe a little bit on sunshine on Christmas Day.
With the ground already saturated in many parts of the country, there are several flood warnings in force, you can keep an eye on these on the Gov.UK website. There is also some advice on what to do if you are caught in a flood.
Even if you are not affected by floods, there are other emergencies that can happen over Christmas.
What is an Emergency?
An emergency repair is something which threatens your health, security or safety, or could cause major damage to your home. In the case of heating and hot water, it is generally breakdowns in extreme cold weather (usually between 31 October and 1 May), or at any time of the year for elderly or vulnerable residents.
In the case of flooding, damage can vary from just your possessions to the structure of your home, depending on how severe it is.
If we agree your repair is an emergency, we will ask you to stay home until one of our contractors comes to fix it. This will be within four hours. The contractor will make the emergency safe and fix it if possible there and then, but a return appointment may be needed to solve the problem. If we do not feel the repair is an emergency, we will make an appointment to have the repair carried out as a ‘non-emergency’ within our guidelines. We will explain what these are. You can also find out more about emergency and non-emergency repairs on pages 10 - 12 of our repairs handbook. made clear under the emergency repairs section that a contractor will attend to make safe and fix the problem if possible, a return appointment may be required to cure the problem.
When you contact us to report your repair, please tell us your name, address and contact details. You also need to let us know when you will be at home, and if there is anything we need to know about how we access your home, for example, if you may not hear our contractor knocking, or it may take you a little longer to answer the door.
Heating and/or hot water
If you think you have a heating or hot water emergency, contact us on 0345 678 0555.
With extreme temperatures in the past, we have often seen freezing and burst pipes over the winter holidays. Burst pipes cause lots of damage, not only to our property but to the things inside. You are expected to take reasonable precautions against this happening as part of your tenancy agreement with us.
Do not turn your heating system off, even if you are not at home. It can be cheaper to keep your home at a low, constant temperature, rather than letting it go very cold. Turn down the thermostat to the lowest setting that keeps the heating on, or set your timer to come on often. This will help to prevent burst pipes which could cause damage. Let warm air circulate around your home by leaving doors, including cupboard doors and the trap door to your roof-space, open. Don’t leave your heating on high, as this will result in costly bills.
If you have no heating and hot water, check the pressure gauge on your boiler, (and that you have credit on your meter). If you know, or have instructions on how to increase the pressure on your boiler, follow them. Your boiler should restore itself to normal without the need to contact us.
If you have a burst pipe, turn off the mains water supply immediately by turning the stopcock clockwise. (Make sure you know where your stopcock is). This will stop any more water getting into the water pipes. If the burst pipe is on the main water system the rush of water will eventually stop. If it doesn’t, the problem may be on your cold water storage system, and you will need to drain down your cold water storage tank which will usually be in your roof-space. This video from Northern Ireland Water shows you just what to do.
What can I do to help stop any problems?
You might be surprised what you can do. If you don’t have any problems, but you are worried you might, there are lots of ways you can help to prevent them. There is information on what to do in a flood on the Gov.UK website. You can also find out where flood warnings are and what the different warnings mean and if the area you live in is at risk.
If the problem is with heating or hot water, we can't know of a mechanical fault beforehand, but we can help to keep appliances working properly by keeping our heating on a low constant heat (which is usually cheaper than set times) and by gently unfreezing any frozen pipes – never with a naked flame - but a hairdryer is great.
You can find out more about our repairs service in our repairs handbook. It includes emergency advice, (in the case of gas and electrical problems) and, on pages 16 - 22, explains which repairs are our responsibility, and which are yours.
Don't forget, you don't have to ring through for repairs that aren't emergencies, you can report these online.
We hope you stay safe, warm and dry in your homes this season, but if anything happens, our emergency out of hours team are standing by.