Last week we brought you information on SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) and its annual National Maintenance Week campaign which is designed to encourage owners of buildings (all types of buildings, not just the ancient ones) to be aware of the importance of regular care and maintenance. SPAG is giving away free pocket-sized maintenance calendars that feature top tips and a list of annual maintenance tasks to promote National Maintenance Week. If you take a look at SPAB, you’ll see that they also offer a free download on damp, an issue that affects so many of our buildings here in the UK, especially those that were built before the advent of central heating. We’ve become so used to central heating in recent years, that many of us tend to forget just how damp homes used to get without it and how much damage damp can cause. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the things building owners can do to ensure that damp doesn’t cause damage.
Damp is the most common cause of damage and deterioration to buildings of all types and is usually the result of rain penetration. Rain penetration occurs when the rainwater finds a way inside a building above ground. The rain usually enters through the roofs, walls, chimneys and other openings like windows and doors. It includes water from gutters and downpipes which have become blocked, so keeping your gutters and downpipes clear is an essential part of damp busting.
Damp doesn’t just damage the fabric of the3 building, it creates really unhealthy living conditions and contributes to other, less visible problems like poor thermal performance, resulting in an increase in heating bills. Rain penetration is distinct from other types of damp, such as condensation and rising damp, both of which require different solutions, so today we’re going to take a look at what can be done to avoid damp from rain penetration.
· Check the roof for dislodged or missing tiles and slates. If you’re doing this from outside, a small pair of binoculars would help while if you’re doing it from inside (in the attic) look for any gaps or daylight showing through.
· Check for blocked downpipes and gutters – it’s a good idea to do this during heavy rainfall, but don’t forget to take an umbrella outside with you. Get into the habit of clearing the gutters and downpipes on a regular basis.
· Check drains and ground level gullies to make sure they’re clear of debris of all sorts.
· Remove any vegetation growing from behind downpipes.
· Use a small mirror to look behind rainwater pipes and check for cracks and splits.
· Fit leaf guards to the tops of soil pipes and rainwater outlets to prevent blockage.
· Make sure your gutters are not sloping the wrong way and discharging water onto the wall.
· Check gutters for damage and make sure they’re kept in good repair year round.
· If your gutters and downpipes are cast iron, they should be painted regularly to prevent rust.
· When carrying out the above maintenance checks/repairs, always wear protective gloves and never work at height or use a ladder if you’re alone.