Thursday, 13 December 2012

Checking the pipework

We have had about 48hrs of freezing cold weather so I thought I ought check that Skylark is standing up to it. On Mick's advice, I have not 'winterised' the boat. I can understand his approach to a degree after all, the engine coolant and central heating both have a high percentage of antifreeze, but the cold and hot water system obviously doesn't. Much of this system is fairly well protected, for instance the cold water tank is insulated, as is the calorifier, and indeed many of the cold and hot water pipes are buried inside trunking under the water line.

However, despite all this, I have been thinking there is still a risk so a visit was called for and I was glad I did because I found the pipes to the kitchen taps had developed a slight blockage under the kitchen cabinets. Everywhere else was fine.

So, I started the engine and connected an electric hot air fan heater to the 230 v system and directed it into the kitchen cabinet where the pipes are located. I also fired up the central heating (which worked first time!), and lit the stove. This quickly brought the internal temperature up from anout 2 degrees to 8 - positively balmy!

Within a few minutes the taps started running so I don't think it was too bad but I was glad that I had taken the time to check. If it had been left to get worse, the consequences of a burst pipe would have been horrendous.

We left Skylark at mid day with a slowly simmering fire still glowing in the fire. The weather forecast for this evening and tomorrow is warm and wet so the risk will soon be gone - until next time. I will obviously have to review how to prevent a freeze-up next time we have a cold spell.

While on the subject of temperature control, I'll just mention how impressed I have been with the insulation in the boat. I have found the comfort levels during the recent cold nights and mornings have been good. The boat warms up quickly and stays warm for a long time despite the cold and, if the frost on the roof is anything to go by, little heat is escaping through the skin of the boat. Even the areas around the mushroom vents and above the stove stayed frozen until the sun started to burn it off. So, it's a big 'thumbs up' on the heating and insulation front.

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