Disabled couple unable to shower for days after pipes freeze in Hemel Hempstead home

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“I know other people have got issues over the borough, but don’t we pay for these sorts of services?”

A disabled couple from Hemel Hempstead was unable to shower for four days after the heating pipes in their home froze as temperatures plummeted.

Gillian and Stephen Dolling called Dacorum Borough Council on December 11 as they could not shower or heat their council-owned property in Highfield.

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And Gillian,65, says she repeatedly contacted the council over the next three days after the cold weather caused the exterior pipes to freeze – but no engineers visited to fix the problem.

Pictured: The exterior pipesPictured: The exterior pipes
Pictured: The exterior pipes

In tears, she said: “I just need a shower. I know it’s the weather and it can't be helped but everyone deserves to have a shower.”

The couple’s daughter, Nikki, said the council told her parents to use a ladder to pour boiling water into the frozen pipe. Due to their medical conditions, they could not do this and had a relative help. The pipe thawed out but, less than an hour later had frozen again.

A spokesperson for Dacorum Borough Council said: “We are prioritising our vulnerable residents and have extra cover in place to address any report of no heating and or hot water as quickly as possible.”

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They added: “Dacorum Borough Council has installed energy-efficient condensing boilers that use a condense pipe to discharge water during normal operation.

“Unfortunately during the sustained cold weather we experienced a high number of reported boiler breakdowns due to these condense pipes freezing which places the boiler in an error state until such time that the ice thaws. Where required the external condense pipes are insulated to reduce the risk of freezing.

“In relation to this property the boiler is located in the airing cupboard on the first floor which means the condense line is high level and the engineers are not able to thaw the condense line as working alone off a ladder in the current weather conditions would propose a significant health and safety risk.

“When notified of the breakdown and identification of the cause an engineer attended and supplied temporary electric heaters, hot water is available via the immersion heater."