General maintenance

It is important to ensure that your place of worship is well maintained.

Undertaking regular inspections and follow up maintenance will help you to avoid major repairs in and around the premises, as well as identifying points of weakness early on, to help reduce potential costs.

You may wish to devise a simple maintenance plan for tasks to be undertaken weekly, monthly, by season, annually, or less freguently and note when these have been completed.

Please click on the tabs below for guidance on areas that require consideration.

Considerations

  • During windy conditions trees may fall onto or lash against the building and rocking of the roots can cause collapse of boundary walls.
  • Leaves and twigs block gutters and underground drains.
  • Roots removing moisture from clay soils can lead to shrinkage of the clay, causing the foundations to move and the walls to crack.
  • Branches falling onto visitors, neighbouring property or cars are a frequent source of claims.
     

To reduce the risk, it is important that regular inspections of trees is undertaken. At least every six months should be considered essential and at least every five years by a tree surgeon.

We would recommend that prior to any works being carried out in respect of any trees on or near the property that you check regarding the existence of any tree preservation orders. A Tree Preservation Order is an order made by a Local Authority to protect specific trees.

Visual inspections of the external walls and roof coverings should be carried out at frequent intervals to reveal any defects requiring attention at an early stage. Look out particularly for loose or defective pinnacles, parapets, roof crosses, slipped or missing slates and missing lead or lead flashing. Inspections should be made after every period of stormy weather.

Such inspections often require working at height. Consideration must be given as to who is best suited and trained to undertake the activity and what equipment is appropriate to perform the task. A risk assessment may identify that a health and safety expert or surveyor would be better and safer equipped to undertake the proposed activity. Please see HSE guidance regarding working on roofs.

This includes guidance in respect of The Work at Height Regulations 2005. Please also see “building work and managing contractors” for more information in respect of this Regulation.

Flat felt on timber roofs is particularly prone to storm damage and should be inspected annually and well maintained. These types of roofs tend to have a shorter life span and will eventually need replacement.

Experience shows that a properly installed and maintained conductor system provides valuable protection and is strongly recommended for churches on the grounds of both safety for employees, church members and preservation of the structure. Advice should be obtained from a Church Architect to see whether a lightning conductor system is required.

A properly installed and maintained conductor system provides valuable protection for the building as well as being safer for the congregation.

A lightning conductor system which is not in perfect order is a positive danger, because the air terminals will attract lightning without providing a free passage to earth. Regular visual inspection of all the conductor ribbons should be undertaken. Particular care is needed following building works or after visitors have been allowed on the roof of the tower. Any break in the ribbons should be repaired immediately.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that lightning protection systems are tested regularly in accordance with BS6651 or BS EN 62305, whichever is applicable to your system. This standard states the system should be tested at maximum intervals of 12 months.

Any water penetrating the walls of the building may cause rotting of timbers and erosion of walls. To avoid such extensive damage, gutters, downpipes and valleys must be cleared at least every six months. Snow and ice should be cleared from valleys and the tower roof during wintry conditions. Ensure that water drains away from the foundations.

This work is likely to be undertaken in difficult weather conditions and at height. Consideration must be given to the training and equipment that is needed to safely undertake the activity. Risk assessments may need to be completed and depending on the nature of the task specialist contractors may be better suited to undertake work properly and safely. See building work and managing contractors for further information regarding working at height.

Ensure that waste materials, particularly packaging, paper, straw, crates and other waste materials are removed for disposal or recycling. These should not be stored outside or adjacent to the buildings as it could be maliciously or accidentally ignited. It also shouldn’t be burnt in the grounds or in a boiler.

Consideration must also be given to any permits that are required for the disposal of any ‘business waste’ and if you are in doubt you should contact your Local Authority for guidance.

It may also be inappropriate or dangerous to dispose of waste that is hazardous through conventional bin collections. Specialist advice and services may need to be engaged to ensure the safe disposal of this type of waste.