As we approach the end of National Maintenance Week 2016 it is a good opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of having a preventative maintenance regime. When it comes to looking after and caring for historic buildings a ‘stitch in time’ policy is key. Not only will this prevent costly repairs in the long run it will also help avoid damage to historic fabric. Our friends at the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings have produced a very handy checklist to help us to remember what to look for:
1. Look for blocked downpipes (best done during heavy rain to see water coming from any leaky joints – in dry weather look for stained brickwork).
2. Check ground level gullies and drains to make sure they are clear of debris like leaves, twigs and even things like balls and toys – and have them cleaned out if necessary.
3. Every autumn, clear any plants, leaves and silt from gutters, hopperheads, flat roofs and drainage channels. It’s a good idea to do this in spring too.
4. Remove potentially damaging vegetation from behind downpipes by cutting back or removing the plant altogether.
5. Use a hand mirror to look behind rainwater pipes as splits and cracks in old cast iron and aluminium often occur here and are not easily noticed.
6. Fit bird/leaf guards to the tops of soil pipes and rainwater outlets to prevent blockages
7. Have gutters refixed if they are sloping the wrong way or discharging water onto the wall.
8. Make sure that replacement gutters are made of the same material as the originals (on older houses, this is sometimes lead, but more usually cast iron).
9. Regular painting of cast iron is essential to prevent rust – and keeps your property looking good!
10. Don’t undertake routine maintenance work at high level unless you are accompanied and have suitable equipment. If in doubt always seek help from a professional.