Water is often the root cause of deterioration in buildings and can lead to all manner of problems which can damage the buildings fabric, fittings, electrics and furniture. In periods of heavy rain water can penetrate the building because of blocked gutters and gullies, through leaky roofs, joints and leadwork, as well as being driven by the wind and absorbed by the fabric through capillary action.
All of this moisture can result in damage to brick, stone, plaster, timber, metals and textiles, and if undetected can cause significant long-term damage to the structure of a building. Some of the most damaging results of excessive moisture within a buildings structure are cracked stone and brickwork due to freezing temperatures combined with saturated masonry; corrosion to steel and iron; and organic rots developing in structural timbers. There also numerous cosmetic problems associated with water penetration such as ruined carpets, ceilings and plaster which may not cause structural problems but can be costly to repair or replace.
If water penetrates into the electrical systems of a building it can be either an inconvenience tripping the electricity supply, potentially life threatening or something in between; it is always essential to get professional advice if this happens.
Damp buildings can also be unhealthy buildings as well as often feeling much colder and being much less efficient than dry buildings.
For all of these reasons it is essential that rainwater is kept out of buildings and prompt action is taken when there are signs of water penetration.
General maintenance such as clearing gutters and gullies should be carried out regularly, annually at a minimum, and is particularly important following the autumn leaf fall. It may be necessary to clear gutters more than once during this period to make sure that the heavy winter rains drain away. Obviously, this type of work should only be carried out by people suitably trained and following a full assessment of the risks.
Buildings should be inspected regularly, in many cases a ground level inspection will suffice and these do not have to be carried out by a professional, to check for any loose or missing slates or tiles or any other obvious problems with a roof covering. Prompt action can prevent a lot of problems developing. It is important to remember that an insulated roof can absorb quite a lot of water before it develops into a damp patch on a ceiling.
Any signs of water within a building, these could be trickles, puddles, surface moisture on walls or damp patches, should be inspected by a professional who can diagnose the causes as well as assess the potential impact. Professional advice should be sought as soon as possible.
One final issue in periods of heavy rain can be that outside paths and steps become very slippery, whilst there is nothing we can do to stop the rain it can often be prudent to prevent water ponding by ensuring any ground drainage is clear of debris and flows correctly.
A good maintenance and inspection regime will often prevent costly and upsetting damage occurring and should be regarded as being an essential element of building management.