One of my worst nightmares is being cold in the winter, alongside any kind of home maintenance disasters. Christmas is precisely the wrong time for a boiler to break down, for drains to get blocked or the heating system to fail, yet it always seems that problems occur at this time of year. Perhaps it’s the extra strain on your home systems caused by spending more time indoors, and with more guests visiting the facilities? And if something goes wrong in December, it’s really difficult to find someone who can come at short notice to fix it. So I’ve put together a few simple tips for surviving any problems this winter and for staying warm, no matter what!Why is there no hot water?! This is always a nightmare situation to encounter at Christmas but don’t imagine the worst case scenario straight away, your boiler might not be broken. Have a quick think about the number of people in your home who might have used up all the hot water in the tank already. Did everyone have a bath, do the washing-up and clean the car this morning? Is that the reason your hot tap is running cold right now? If so, press the boost button and wait for the water to heat up again.
Or perhaps, it’s just a case of the tank being a little too small for the amount of people using it. Did you know that water tanks come in different sizes? I didn’t! If you’ve got extra guests in the house over the holiday period, this could be putting extra strain on the hot water supply and leading to you running out of hot water more quickly than usual. Try encouraging everyone to take showers instead of baths and boil a kettle to do the washing up to keep the hot water flowing.
If you wake up to cold water one morning, it’s more likely that something ‘technical’ can gone wrong with the heating system. The reason for the lack of hot water might as simple as the pilot light going out on the boiler or the electric breaker may have been tripped. Check the circuit breaker box and see if any of the switches are off, then simply flick it back on if that has happened. If the pilot light on your gas-powered system has gone off, refer to the instruction manual to find out how to relight the flame – there may be a self-ignition button and the solution may be as simple as pressing this. If none of the above is the case, it would be a good idea to call in a professional so ask around your friends and family for a recommended plumber who can take a look at it.
Here are some tips for getting hot water when your boiler actually is broken:
- Boil a kettle. For smaller tasks such as washing up this is fine. And warming enough water to fill a basin will be enough to wash hands and faces, or even have a good, old-fashioned flannel wash!
- Use a solar shower or leave a hose full of water out in the sun. Okay this is more suited to summer, when you can leave out the black shower bag full of water to heat up in with the warmth of the sun, but it might work on a particularly sunny winters day, so long as the temperatures are not so cold that the water freezes inside the shower bag, haha!
- If you have an oven or Aga, you could boil up 4 big pans of water at once. This will give you just enough to bathe in when combined with a little cold water from the taps.
- Share the bath. If you’ve managed to heat up enough water for a shallow bath, pop the kids in first and then wash yourself in the same water.
I hope that some of these ideas will help you if you’re struggling with hot water problems over the winter period. Let me know your tips by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @Cassiefairy.