Households are being advised to act now to avoid a boiler breakdown, as a yellow weather warning for snow is declared for the North West.
WaterSafe, the national register of approved plumbers, is warning that freezing temperatures can cause boilers to shut down, leaving people with no central heating or hot water.
Condensing boilers are most at risk as the pipe which carries condensed water vapour outside the property can freeze if not properly protected.
However, taking simple steps now, including fitting foam insulation to the external pipe, and having the boiler serviced annually by an engineer registered with WaterSafe and on the Gas Safe register, can prevent this from happening.
If the pipe has already frozen, it can be thawed by placing a hot water bottle over the pipe, starting with the end nearest the ground and working back up the pipe until the water is flowing freely.
Customers should contact a WaterSafe and Gas Safe registered engineer if the pipe is difficult to access or they need advice.
Julie Spinks, director at WaterSafe, says: “If your boiler was installed since 2005, it’s very likely to be a condensing boiler.
“Although they can be more efficient than other boiler types, there is a risk that the condensate pipe, which runs outside the home, can freeze when temperatures drop below five degrees Celsius.
“Having a broken boiler, and no heating or hot water, is the last thing anyone wants - especially at this time of year.
“The good news is, you can reduce the risk of the pipe freezing quickly and for very little money, by fitting foam insulation around the external pipe.
“You should also have your boiler serviced each year by a Gas Safe and WaterSafe-approved engineer, to help keep it running smoothly and efficiently.”