Practical winter maintenance of churches

Published on: 12 February 2015

With winter now upon us there are some useful steps that we can undertake to minimise the risk of cold-weather related incidents.

  • Rainwater goods, gullies and drains Make sure that gutters, gullies and downpipes are clear of detritus (such as leaves) and clean out any drains to ensure they do not become clogged.
  • Pathways Keep pathways clear of snow and use grit/salt on the main approach to the church if freezing weather is expected.
  • Pipes Lag any pipes to lessen the risk of fracture and service the boiler/heating system regularly. If you have a frost thermostat make sure it is working. Should a pipe become frozen turn off the water at the mains and gently unfreeze the affected pipe by using some gentle heating machine (such as a hairdryer or hot water bottle). Should a pipe burst make sure the mains water is disconnected, drain the liquid into an appropriate holder and repair the breakage as soon as possible.
  • Temporary heating Sometimes heating systems fail during the winter months. Should you require temporary heating you could introduce electric heaters but liquid petroleum gas versions should be avoided at all cost. This is due to them producing lots of water vapour, which can be extremely damaging to the church building.
  • Candles Simple precautions can avoid the risk of fi res, should candles be used during services. Make sure that candles are kept away from flammable objects and are never left unattended.
  • Roofs A once-weekly visual inspection of the roofs can identify issues (such as slipped slates) before they become a major issue. Should repairs be minimal and be on a like-for-like basis these should be undertaken immediately.

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