According to the tabloids we could be set for a white Christmas this year with temperatures predicted to plummet to -9 degrees Celsius.

Some parts of the UK are predicted to be colder than Russia – sparking ice warnings for our roads for those travelling to visit family and friends.

But while travel could be treacherous, Phil Birchenough has some top boiler tips to ensure your heating and hot water stay in top working order while you are away from home.

Our biggest piece of advice is don’t turn your heating and hot water off while you are away.

People often think that turning it off is best because it saves money, but in fact it’s better to leave it on to stop your pipes from freezing.

To save your pennies, simply adjust the thermostat so that the set point temperature is lower so that the boiler is not firing for as long. This will ensure you are not wasting energy.

Prevent frozen condensate pipes by turning up the heat!

Another big problem for many during a cold snap is frozen condensate pipes.  On most boilers part of the condensate discharge pipe is external – and this means it’s exposed to the elements and could freeze in very low temperatures.

If this happens your boiler will shut off and your heating and hot water won’t work.

To avoid this happening while you are away over Christmas, operate your boiler at a higher flow temperature during colder periods.

This is easy to do, simply increase the temperature on the thermostat on your boiler (not your room thermostat).

Taking this simple step decreases the amount of condensate generated, protecting your pipes.

What else can I do?

An extra measure you can take, which involves calling an installer, is to eliminate your pipe’s exposure to the outside by running it to an internal discharge source.

This is something that can be done easily by your heating engineer. And if this is not possible, he or she can advise you on the products that are available that can give you added protection.

What to do if you are reading this and your pipe is already frozen

Don’t worry, it’s not that hard to resolve.  If you can locate the blockage you can fix it yourself if the pipe is easy to access from ground level.

It’s not dissimilar to de-icing your windscreen.   Simply apply warm (not boiling) water to the frozen area.

We must stress though, please only do this if it is safe to do so and the pipe is easy to access.

If it is not easy to get to or safe please enlist the help of a gas safe registered engineer.

Once the pipe is thawed, you will need to reset your boiler.  This is simple to do – just follow the instructions in your manual.  If you have a Sime boiler you can download the manual from our website

What to do if you get back home after Christmas and there’s an error code

Your first point of call should be your manual to check the meaning of the code.  The manual will tell you if you need to call an engineer.

If it’s something minor like low pressure, you can easily rectify this yourself.  Your manual or your boiler manufacturer’s website will offer direction about what to do.  If it is a Sime boiler go to our website to access videos and a breakdown of what the error codes mean.