The summer is officially over, and we are now into autumn, a season that brings with it certain weather conditions and natural phenomena that can cause damage to church buildings. If left unchecked and unresolved, damage can become much more of an issue come winter, costing more money and time to fix.
Some things to be mindful of this autumn:
Increasingly strong winds
Churches with slated roofs, particularly ones with steep spires are most prone to wind damage. The damage isn’t always obvious to the casual observer. Even when making a determined effort to take a good look around your church roof from the ground, it might not be possible to see all parts of the roof. If you have safe access to your church roof it can be a good idea to pay it a regular visit, especially after strong winds. And if you do spot a missing tile, it’s important to address the problem quickly, else the space left by a missing tile will allow wind to get up underneath other tiles, causing a bigger problem than before. Additionally, water will get into the building, not just the rain falling vertically through the hole, but all of the water from further up the roof. If you are lucky, you might discover a leaking roof from within the church quite quickly, but if gone unnoticed for a long period, perhaps for years, the damage to the structural integrity of the roof could be extensive.
One of the difficulties that some church buildings face is that their gutters are quite high, often hiding piles of rotting leaves within them, resulting in blocked drains and water flowing into places where it can cause damage. Cleaning your church gutters and downpipes is a vital part of ensuring the good maintenance of your building. Water can be a building's worst enemy, and the damage can already be done by the time evidence starts to appear. So, keeping on top of routine maintenance can avoid very expensive problems in the longer term.
DAC Secretary, Caroline Hilton says: "Keeping gutters well maintained will help you to avoid water damage to church fabric and the resulting costly repairs. If you need any advice please do contact us at the DAC office at Church House, we’re here to help."
Help and advice about maintaining gutters can be found on the DAC pages of the diocesan website. Gutters page
Calendar of Care
The Church of England has a useful Calendar of Care document which offers useful tips on what to look out for during each month of the year. For October they advise the following:
- Treat the snowboards with creosote or similar and repair any which have broken. Put them in place.
- Check that all exposed water tanks, water pipes, heating pipes and oil feed pipes are protected against severe frost.
- Cut the grass for the final time and service the lawn mower.
- When Daylight Saving Time finishes at the end of the month take the opportunity to check your turret clock.
If you are struggling to find a contractor to complete some work on your church building, you may want to conisder using Maintenance Booker. It's a website, from the National Churches Trust and accredited by Ecclesiastical Insurance, which makes it easy for churches, chapels and historic buildings to access the highest standard of building maintenance services.
Churchwardens Facebook Group
A national Churchwardens Facebook Group now has more than 1700 members. It's a place for churchwardens, new and old alike, to share knowledge and experience. If you're not a member already, you can sign up here.
DAC contact details
DAC Secretary: Caroline Hilton
M: 07546 304341
DAC Assistant: Katy Purvis