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Winter health check – don’t store up potentially expensive problems
23 February 2021

We all hope the recent wintry weather is behind us and we can look forward to spring. However, with all the recent inclement weather, it is critical we ensure our buildings have survived and are maintained in good condition for the rest of the year.

It is not just snow that causes issues; it’s also freezing temperatures which can be equally damaging. Even after the wintry weather has passed, many issues can have damaging long-term effects to properties, therefore it’s important to remain vigilant. It’s even more important the older your property is, as historic properties are more susceptible to ongoing repairs and maintenance.

Issues to look out for:

  • Substantial snow drifts can accumulate in valleys, behind parapets and against neighbouring higher structures. If this freezes, this can cause external tiles and cement flashings to crumble, delaminate and ultimately fail. Watch out for slipped roof tiles or fallen debris from roofs which provide an early indication of worrying issues.
  • Drifting snow can lead to water penetrating different areas of the roof so check timbers in roof voids, especially around chimneys and valley gutters, to check they are not wet. This will avoid more serious problems in the future.
  • Accumulating snow can also lead to unequal stresses on roofs, therefore check that roofs have not sagged or at risk of failure. Properties with no roof felt are also at increased risk as water can penetrate through to structural timbers.
  • Poor maintenance of gutters and drainage systems can result in them becoming blocked or frozen, and melting snow and rain not being able to drain away from the roof.
  • The additional weight of frozen water can lead to gutters falling away from roofs, possibly causing additional damage.
  • External heating pipework which is not properly insulated, i.e. boiler condensate overflows, can lead to boiler failure. Check all your heating and services pipes are correctly insulated.
  • Ponding ground water can freeze and cause damage to flat roofs as well as driveways and other external surfaces.

Prolonged wintry weather is quite unusual in this locality and our properties are not always capable of dealing with these extremities. Ironically, properties with better insulated roofs may be at a higher risk as properties with poor insulation tend to thaw snow and ice more quickly.

Many of the above issues can be hidden and difficult to see so getting professional advice is critical. If maintenance has been neglected, any prolonged snow or freezing temperatures can lead to significant structural issues. Checking key areas, such as roofs, will help to ensure your properties are well maintained for the remainder of the year.

To check your property is sound and weathertight or to coordinate a regular maintenance plan then please call Robert Franklin

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