CLACKMANNANSHIRE residents are being urged to take necessary measures to winter-proof their homes in order to reduce the burden on call-out engineers.

With snow set to fall in Alloa and Stirling this weekend, people are being urged to get their homes winter ready to avoid a cold weather disaster.

As the winter chill continues and cold temperatures grip the area, Scottish Gas is predicting that its engineers will visit almost 1,500 homes in Central Scotland next week, to help fix problems with heating or hot water.

Simon Jackson, a Scottish Gas engineer who services and repairs boilers across Central Scotland, said: “Having no heating or hot water during the winter months isn’t a nice experience.

“A recent poll by Scottish Gas found that it would be people’s worst winter disaster in the home. That’s why it’s important that we’re on standby to help our customers should in case things go wrong.

“Here are some tips I’ve been sharing with my customers to help them keep a step ahead of winter.”

1. “Bleed your radiators: to make sure they are working properly. If your radiators have cold spots at the top, this means you have air in the system, so you will need to bleed them to get them working efficiently.

a. To do this, turn the system off and when cool turn the radiator key until the air stops and water runs consistently. Once you have turned the system back on, the problem should be solved.

b. Cold spots in the bottom or centre of the radiator may be an indication of sludge build up and the need for system flushing.

c. Bleeding your radiator may result in pressure dropping. If you have a pressure gauge make sure the boiler is at the right pressure and top up as necessary.

2. “Block the breeze: Make sure all of your windows and doors seal properly to stop warm air escaping. For those that don’t, fitting draught excluders, which you can buy from most DIY stores, is a quick and cheap way to cut down on your energy bills.

3. “Stay safe: It’s vital to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted and that you test it regularly.

4. “Love your boiler: Check to make sure that your boiler is working properly before winter sets in. The older your boiler, the more inefficient it will be. If you have a pressure gauge make sure the boiler is at the right pressure and top up as necessary.

5. “Wrap up your water tank and insulate hot water: The materials can be purchased from most DIY stores and help to conserve heat and save you money.

6. “Insulate your pipes: Burst pipes are a huge issue during winter months. To help prevent burst pipes, ensure all pipes are properly insulated by using lagging, which can be bought cheaply from most DIY shops.

7. “Maintain your drains: If you're trying to keep your drains outside well maintained, it's a good idea to make sure they are clear of debris at the point at which they enter the ground. This involves checking your gullies for autumnal leaves and twigs in order to ensure that they don't restrict water flow at any point.