The Need for Building Maintenance
Priority for regular maintenance should focus on keeping out water and damp penetration. When maintenance slips, owners are often surprised how quickly a structure can deteriorate. Failure to clear a gutter can cause a blockage, which may lead to damp and damage in a building, therefore a regular inspection of roof coverings, gutters, downpipes, gullies and perimeter drains is recommended. A regime of inspection, say every five years, by a suitably qualified professional who will also check open joints in masonry and cracked render will re pay the costs by avoiding unnecessary deterioration in a building’s condition. A photographic survey would help to monitor a building’s condition over time.
With regard to day-to-day maintenance, the main issues which can normally be tackled by the building owner are:
- Clearing leaves and silt from gutters, flat roofs, downpipes, gullies etc about every three months, especially during and after the autumn fall of leaves;
- Careful clearing of snow from valley and parapet gutters, flat roofs etc to prevent build up, using wooden or plastic shovels.
- Removal of plant growth, especially clinging ivy, on masonry and around perimeter of buildings. Judicious use of appropriate poison is the best remedy to deal with ivy roots. Note: If walls are unstable plant growth should not be removed before work on consolidation commences as this can tear away old mortar and expose the old stone work or bricks to weathering by frost and rain;
- Removal of accumulations of bird droppings from external masonry and any internal spaces e.g. attics, turrets – where birds have gained access. Loose bird guards should be fixed to prevent entry;
- Checking for insect and fungal attack;
- Check that ventilators within the body of the building and in roof voids are kept open.
Details of building maintenance and helpful checklists to help you protect your building can be found at www.maintainyourbuilding.org.uk or www.maintenancematterswales.org. There are also details available in guidance leaflet 'Maintenance of Historic Buildings' produced by the Built Heritage Team.