What to do during the floods

on 17 February, 2014

With shocking scenes of flooding throughout the UK, boilers and central heating systems may not be front of mind for homeowners, yet when the floods subside there are some important things to consider.

Wherever there is water and electricity, it can be a dangerous mix and while it may be a natural assumption for electricians and heating engineers to switch off the mains supply, it may not be a consideration for homeowners. Providing helpful tips and advice to customers and those within your area can reap dividends and potentially prevent the risk of electric shock.

Top advice

The general advice for anybody living or working near the flood waters is to turn off all electrical devices before the waters enter the property. Equally, never touch electrical appliances while standing in any amount of water as this poses a real risk of electric shocks.

When it comes to the heating system, it’s also important to remember that many homeowners may not have considered that the boiler requires an electrical connection to operate and therefore by isolating the electricity, the home will be without heating too.

When the water subsides

Once the flooding has subsided, the danger still remains and it’s important to advise homeowners to have the entire system checked by an electrician to ensure the safety and integrity of the home electrical system – at no point should the electricity be switched back on without first being checked by a qualified electrician.

Bear in mind that many customers may not associate their electricity with their heating supply, so it’s important to remind them that as the electricity is turned back on, the boiler will come back on too. To ensure the safety and integrity of the system we would always advise that the heating system be isolated until a full safety check can be conducted by a Gas Safe engineer.

As a general rule, all the electrical components of the boiler should be given a once over and engineers should check the PCB for any damage or debris before conducting a full system check. As the majority of systems are closed loop, it is unlikely that floodwater will enter into the system while it’s off unless there is a burst pipe, and even then this will be low-pressure water and shouldn’t pose any problems. A burst pipe would also usually be found during the system check.

Crucially, while the flood waters remain, it’s important to use common sense – so don’t drive through standing water where there is a chance that it’s deeper than your vehicle can cope with, and most importantly stay safe.

Remember, for many homeowners the last thing on their mind right now is their boiler but when the waters subside, this is when the risk will be most apparent and when they will be most reliant on their local heating engineer for advice and help.

Paul Hardy is managing director at Baxi.

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