Get Winter Ready

During periods of sub-zero temperatures you can sometimes experience problems with your boiler, or the boiler can appear not to be working.

If you are experiencing problems with your heating system we advise you to contact a Gas Safe registered installer, ideally the installer who fitted your system.  However, you may find some of these tips useful:

The liquid in the external condensate pipe can freeze and cause a blockage. Boilers will detect this blockage and shut down to avoid water damage or damage to your boiler. If you think this has happened you should either contact a Gas Safe installer or watch this short video for more information on how you can possibly resolve the issue yourself.

If you cannot access the video link above, here are some tips for defrosting your condensate pipe:

  • If the plastic condensate pipe that runs from your boiler outside is frozen, you may be able to thaw the plastic pipe as long as it is accessible and safe to do so.
  • Try using warm (not boiling) water, a heat wrap or a hot water bottle to thaw out the pipe
  • Don’t try removing or dislodging the pipe but once you apply some heat, the ice should melt or loosen up.
  • If you have successfully thawed out the pipe your boiler will need to be reset by referring to the manufacturer’s instructions

If you suspect your water pipe has frozen, contact your local plumber. 

You should immediately locate the stopcock for the mains water into your home to ensure you can isolate the water supply if required.

The stopcock is a valve for turning off and on the cold water supply within your home. When you turn the stopcock in a clockwise direction the water supply will be shut off. You can turn the water supply back on by turning the stopcock in an anti-clockwise direction.

Stopcocks are usually found in your kitchen, below the sink unit.  

You should contact NI Water by phone 03457 440088 or email

The best way to check if your mains water supply is still operating, is to run the cold water tap in your kitchen. If water is available at this point this suggests the main water supply is not frozen.

To learn more about your pipework responsibilities in advance of winter please visit

A list of contact numbers for various boiler manufacturers and supporting organisations can be downloaded.

Top tips to keep your home cosy

Boilers usually break down when you need them most! To help prevent any problems with your central heating over the winter months you should consider having your boiler checked by a professional.

Is your current heating system over 15 years old? If it is you should consider replacing it with a modern, high efficiency system.

Do some of your radiators still feel cold when your central heating is on? Cold spots are caused by air pockets and a build-up of rust and sludge. To help prevent these, you should consider having your system flushed by a heating professional.

Insulating your home properly will not only keep your house warmer but will also reduce the amount of energy you need to heat your home, saving you money. Exposed pipes should also be well insulated as they will be most susceptible to freezing temperatures.

A programmable room thermostat allows you to set different temperatures for different times of the day. Turning your thermostat down by just 1oC could reduce your bill by up to 10%.

Additional Support

A list of additional support and advice services in Northern Ireland, provided by the Consumer Council is available to download here.

Access to more than 30 local helplines, providing support, information and advice for consumers across a range of different areas can be found at: