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%.

Simple Energy Efficiency Tips for your home - provided by Energy Saving Trust

1. Switch off standby - You can save around 70 a year just by remembering to turn your appliances off standby mode.

Almost all electrical appliances can be turned off at the plug without upsetting their programming. You may want to think about getting a standby saver or smart plug which allows you to turn all your appliances off standby in one go.

2. Draught-proof windows and doors - Unless your home is very new, you will lose some heat through draughts around doors and windows, gaps around the floor, or through the chimney.

Professional draught-proofing of windows, doors and blocking cracks in floors and skirting boards can cost around £250, but it can save around £90 a year on energy bills. DIY draught proofing can be much cheaper.

3. Turn of the lights - Turn your lights off when you’re not using them or when you leave a room. This will save you around £30  a year on your annual energy bills

4. Careful with your washing - You can save around £36  a year from your energy bill just by using your washing machine more carefully:

  • Use your washing machine on a 30-degree cycle instead of higher temperatures.
  • Reduce your washing machine use by one run per week for a year.

5. Avoid the tumble dryer - Avoid using a tumble dryer for your clothes: dry clothes on racks inside where possible or outside in warmer weather to save £75 a year.

6. Spend less time in the shower - Keeping your shower time to just 4 minutes could save a typical household £55 a year on their energy bills.

7. Swap your bath for a shower - Some of us might enjoy a long soak in the bath, but swapping just one bath a week with a 4-minute shower could save you £12 a year on your energy bills.

8. Be savvy in the kitchen - Kettles are one of the most used appliances in the kitchen. But many of us will admit that we at least occasionally boil the kettle with more water than we’re going to use.

Avoid overfilling the kettle and save yourself £14 a year on your electricity bill.

You could also consider fitting an aerator onto your existing kitchen tap to reduce the amount of water coming out without affecting how it washes or rinses. An aerator is a small gadget with tiny holes – they attach to the spout of taps and are cheap and easy to install – and could save you £20 a year.

9. Fill your dishwasher - Only run your dishwasher when it is full to reduce the amount of water you use. Reducing your dishwasher use by one run per week for a year could save you £18.

10. Top up the insulation - Effective insulation of your hot water cylinder is important: even if you have thin spray foam or a loose 25mm jacket, you can benefit from increasing the insulation to a British Standard Jacket 80mm thick, saving £35 a year in the process.

Source: Energy Saving Trust. Savings based on a typical gas fuelled home.

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: