national maintenance week heading

Top Tips

Inspection

Simple, regular checks and maintenance provide the best way to protect the character and value of any building, whether old or new. Damp problems and decay can often be prevented by curing minor defects at an early stage.

Peeling WallpaperGutters and Rain Water Pipes: Check gutters and rain water pipes for blockages and leaks. This may be simplest done in the rain, but stains on walls and plant growth in gutters provide clues.

Roofs: Loose or missing slates and tiles may mean that water is getting onto roof timbers. Repairing or replacing roof timbers is much more expensive than fixing a loose tile. Moss on roofs can retain harmful dampness and may need to be cleared.

Valleys, Flat Roofs, Chimneys and Junctions: Holes, splits and other defects in valleys or flat roofs may not be obvious but often produce signs of dampness on internal walls, ceilings and in attics. Similar problems can result from failed flashings or mortar flaunchings, particularly to chimneys.

Walls: Check mortar joints and render for decay, though don't over react if erosion is limited. It's important that any repairs are carried out in materials compatible with the building. In older structures, mortars and renders are likely to be based on lime, not cement.

Down to Earth: Avoid any build-up of earth at the base of walls which may breach a damp proof course, or trap moisture causing decay. Make sure that any underfloor ventilators are kept clear. A rain storm may be a good time to check that gullies and drains are carrying water away properly. Garden plants often enhance buildings, but consider control or removal of trees or climbers if there is evidence that they are damaging walls or blocking gutters.

Services and Flues: Check water and heating systems for leaks, and ensure pipes are lagged to avoid bursts in winter. Make certain electrical and gas installations are regularly inspected, and that chimney flues are safe and clear.

Safety: Use appropriate means of access and safety equipment, especially in areas that are high or difficult to reach. Employ a reputable professional builder if in any doubt about the safety of inspection or maintenance work.

© SPAB 2007