Ledula experts share maintenance and conservation tips that can save you money this winter
Winter seems to be settling everywhere now in all her icy glory and warm up as we may, there are certain things around the house that just don’t seem to be able to handle the cold. Add to that the fact that water and power are soon becoming our most precious commodities and winter can become costly and colder than need be. Ledula speaks to some of our own experts about how regular home maintenance can stop maintenance and utility bills from racking up in winter months.
According to Andrew Duncan from Andrew Duncan Plumbing in Cape Town the biggest winter maintenance cost is the unblocking of drains. Clients need to have their storm water drains cleared before winter starts. “It’s only once it starts raining that the autumn leaves and debris become a problem,” he says.
In addition, he advises home owners to have their drains cleaned once a year, as thin routs grow in and around them due to constant flow of water. These eventually break through the sewage line and block the pipes.
Another potential problem with underground water pipes is bursting when there’s a sudden and significant change in temperature – such as that brought on by winter – advises Martin Buck, from Martin Buck Plumbing in Johannesburg, “The age, water condition and location of the pipes are factors to the possibility of this happening,” says Buck.
Externally located pipes such as the overflow pipe on a geyser, on the other hand, are subject to freezing and would be better placed discharging under roof eaves. “If there is a constant drip of water from the overflow it is likely to freeze and block the outlet point. Although it is a temporary problem, it can cause pressure build up in the geyser,” Continues Buck.
And we all know that’s not something you want to tamper with. Few have not been subject to a sudden bang and water flowing from the ceiling, or an unexpected cold shower on an icy winter morning before work – whether it’s a burst element or thermostat or even a leak.
Here insulation and maintenance is key. Buck insists that geysers should be insulated as per SANS 10254 (South African National Standards) and maintained every three years. Duncan stresses the importance of installing a timer switch on the geyser: “The geyser is responsible for the highest electricity usage in the home. A timer switch can see that it runs during the warmer hours of the day – it uses less energy to warm the water, but still provides hot water when needed. Another option is a water pump.”
Johannesburg electrician, Wouter Pienaar from The Electro Surgeon (with branches nationwide) has advice along the same lines when it comes to saving money on electricity. “Installing gas and solar heaters not only means a significant reduction in energy usage, but also reduces to load on the electrical system of the house.”
According to Pienaar their biggest call outs during the winter months is tripping electricity and installation burn outs due to power overloading - heaters, under floor heating and electric blankets. “This can be avoided if we do an assessment of the power usage and maintenance on the electrical boxes. Regular testing and maintenance allows one to avoid unforeseen costs of problematic circuits and loose connections, as well as unnecessary electricity usage.”
On the conservation of water
Buck agrees that general maintenance is the answer. “The water meter should be checked on a regular basis and all taps, toilets and geyser overflow pipes should be checked for drips and leaks. If they are all in a working order and the water meter still turns when all taps are closed, a plumber should be called to fix leaking water pipes.”
Adds Duncan: “We could run out of water by 2020 if not conserved through regular maintenance of plumbing. Another very good idea is rainwater harvesting from the gutter downpipe. A plumber could easily relay this to the kitchen and bathroom.”
Although these tips can be helpful in keeping unexpected maintenance and utility bills down, it is obvious that implementation will also take some expense. This can lead to home owners making the call instead to hope nothing goes wrong and biting the bullet when it does.
Gavin Welsh, National Ledula Sales Manager, has some simple advice: “Include a home maintenance allowance of one to three percent of the property value in the annual budget. Then create a checklist with the different home expense categories that you can schedule throughout the year. Don’t make the mistake of bundling all the redecorations, repairs, alterations and maintenance into one though, as it can be daunting and cause you to lose focus on the end goal.”
To find out more about winter home maintenance, or get hold of home service providers, visit www.ledula.com