Protecting Your Buildings from Winter Weather

Posted on November 11, 2015 in Building Maintenance,General Info,Our Service

Prepping for the cold weather

Gutters Roof

With recent news predicting a prolonged cold winter weather this year, it is important to keep in mind the damage it could cause to some of your buildings. Protech Property Solutions looks at how property managers can prepare for the worst.

The British have a poor track record of dealing with any weather condition that isn’t described as “grey”. Protecting against cold, winter weather damage is necessary for any building owner or occupier and is of even greater importance for a block of flats.

The first step to reducing the risk of unnecessary damage to your properties lies within a comprehensive pre-planned maintenance programme, which will highlight any areas that need attention long before emergency and responsive repair is needed.

 

Winter Water Checklist

Frost damage and cracked pipes can cause more problems than just the obvious issue of flooding. Undetected leaks can add thousands of pounds to water bills, so for properties already under budgetary constraints it is well worth checking the condition of water pipes before and after the coldest weather.

Remember:

  • Regular maintenance of pipes and water systems should ensure that any problems are caught early.
  • Insulate all water tanks and pipes in unheated areas like lofts, roof spaces and basements.
  • Empty flats are most vulnerable to damage from burst pipes when the freezing weather starts to thaw, so be particularly aware around holidays.
  • Tackle dripping taps – this may seem like a small issue, but the trickle of water from a leaking tap can freeze and completely block the pipe.
  • Label stop taps and valves in order to shut off the water in the event of a burst pipe.

 

Winter Roof Checklist

Damaged roofs often cause further water damage, however roof care is generally neglected. In the case of snow, extra pressure is put on roofs and any loose tiles can be forced off as snow melts. Missing tiles, slates, and shingles can contribute to damaged roof timbers causing rising damp and expensive structural damage.

Along with maintaining the roof, it is important to consistently check gutters. When they are blocked with moss, they can cause the roof to retain water – which is particularly damaging in frosty weather.

Remember:

  • Check for broken slates, tiles or shingles on the ground as this can indicate that there may be a problem.
  • Inspect the roof space through loft access traps. Any daylight penetration could be caused by missing roof covering or damaged flashings.

 

Dry Rot

Poor ventilation mixed with wet weather creates the perfect breeding ground for another enemy of structures – dry rot. Dry rot is particularly lethal as it has the ability to travel through building materials other than timber, giving outbreaks the potential to spread quickly through a block of flats. For this reason additional measures (e.g. masonry sterilisation) often have to be taken when treating dry rot outbreaks over and above those necessary when dealing with outbreaks of other wood-rotting fungi. Spotting it early is key.

When inspecting your wood you should:

  • Search for wood that is sunken or shrunken.
  • Look for affected wood that has a flat “skin-like” covering. The skin may have a mushroom-like growth with shades of silver and grey and peels easily.
  • Check wood with damp and musty odours. Look for white “cotton wool” growth on the wood. This is very important if you suspect water damage.
  • Examine any dust around rotted areas. Dry rot dust is a rust red colour.
  • Inspect any area with wide, soft and fleshy wide spores. The spores may have an orange and green surface.
  • Look for thick grey strands, up to three millimetres in diameter, growing within the cracked section of wood. These strands may be found alone without any other symptoms of dry rot. The strands make the wood brittle and crack easily and can grow over other damp wood, possibly leading to dry rot.
  • Verify dry rot by striking the middle of the infected area with a claw hammer. If it goes through the wood easily, you may have dry rot.

 

Conclusion

Should you find yourself in an emergency situation, the first thing to do is to define the emergency. There are two types that require urgent attention: “Stops Critical Operations” and “Threat to Life or Property”. In order to deal with these situations effectively, action plans should be in place to reinstate operations and make the property safe and secure.

There are emergencies every year that could be prevented if proper care is taken of buildings. Insulating pipes, checking roof tiles and keeping buildings well ventilated may seem arduous but it can prevent the most common causes for emergency maintenance – saving time, inconvenience and money.

Should you need assistance or advise please contact Protech Property Solutions on 0845 604 1288.

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