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During coronavirus, what is a plumbing or heating emergency?

Clarifying what we would and wouldn’t attend

Plumbing and heating repairs have been designated as essential services by the government and are therefore continuing during the coronavirus lockdown, as you would of course expect. By their very nature, with engineers going into homes, there is potentially a high risk of spreading infection and therefore we must operate within government guidelines for safe working at all times.

We confirmed last week that would no longer conduct non-essential repairs and would only continue to attend plumbing and heating emergencies. However, we felt it would be really useful to clarify what this actually means in practice so you know the likelihood of being able to request an engineer before you call.

What is a plumbing and heating emergency?

We would class the following situations as plumbing and heating emergencies and therefore would send an engineer out as long as all guidelines were observed:

Full boiler breakdown

By this we mean a boiler breakdown that has resulted in a total lack or heating and/or hot water.

Leaks

Any evidence of a leak where there is visible water present or wet patches on ceilings, walls or floors.

Drainage issues

Where drain blockages are causing water to back up/fail to drain away or cause visible flooding.

Unable to use toilet or bathing facilities

If there is an issue that meant your toilet or bathing facilities were unusable, we would attend. However, if you had alternatives such as a second toilet or a separate shower or bath, then this would not be classed as an emergency unless it was causing a risk to health.

What is classed as non-essential?

While in normal circumstances, we usually advocate that all evidence of a plumbing or heating issue be taken seriously and attended to without delay, we are in very different times at the moment. To minimise the spread of infection, we do not class the following as emergency issues and would therefore not attend:

Servicing

While annual boiler servicing is important, it is not deemed an emergency at this time. Don’t worry about invalidating your warranty as manufacturers are promising flexibility around servicing timescales during this challenging time. We are currently booking boiler services in from July although these may have to be rearranged should restrictions still be in place at that time.

(See update 08/04/20 below)

Intermittent boiler faults

Where you have an intermittent fault but it does not result in a loss of heating or hot water we would not attend at this time.

Partial loss of heat

Where you have partial loss of heat, for example individual radiators not working, we would not attend. If possible, use other rooms or plug in heaters to manage until normal services are resumed.

Mould or dry patches

Evidence of mould or dry watermark patches could well indicate that water has entered at some point. However, unless these areas are currently wet, this is a job that can wait. It will need checking out at some point but just make a note to get in touch when things return to normal working, or if the situation changes.

Dripping taps

Dripping taps are annoying and you will waste some water but it is an issue that can be dealt with at a later date so we wouldn’t attend.

Toilet or bathing issues where there is an alternative

As mentioned above, if you had an issue with your toilet, shower or bath that meant you couldn’t use them but had other options for toileting and bathing, then this wouldn’t be an emergency – unless there was a risk to health.

We hope that this offers some clarity. Obviously we are working in difficult circumstances with a reduced workforce and remote working adding challenges so it would be really useful if you could check your issue against these guidelines first, to see whether it would be classed as an emergency.

What we would say, however, is please don’t try to fix the issue yourself unless you are very confident in your abilities and remember that you have to be Gas Safe registered to do any work on a gas boiler. Please just be patient, otherwise you could soon find that you have created an emergency which puts additional pressure on tradespeople and other customers, some of whom are vulnerable.

Even when we are able to attend, we are doing so with variations to our usual working practices in line with government guidelines. You can see the latest updates on this here.

If you do believe your plumbing and heating issue to be an emergency, please call us on 0800 032 6478 or complete an enquiry form. Thank you for your continued patience.

Update 08/04/20: boiler servicing resumed

We announced on 8th April that we had made the decision to resume boiler servicing due to its importance of keeping boilers working well. You can see more details about this here.

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