Ensuring effective rainwater disposal is a crucial part of good maintenance. Water should be rapidly channelled away from roofs or other surfaces so that there is no risk of unwanted moisture penetrating the structure. It is also essential that there is a satisfactory means of taking water away from the base of the building so that it does not affect foundations or cause decay through excessive ‘splash back’ onto the walls.
Roof coverings are often attractive as well as functional elements of a building. Wherever possible traditional materials should be used for re-covering roofs. This should apply not only to slates and tiles, where natural/handmade types are greatly preferable, but also to thatch which should be appropriate to the locality in terms of material and detail. Slipped slates and tiles, copings to gable ends and the gradual decay of thatch should all be watched and remedial action taken when necessary.
The condition of gutters and downpipes should be regularly monitored; occasional inspections during heavy rain showers can be a revealing way of seeing how the rainwater goods cope with water from the roof. At other times stained masonry is likely to indicate that there is a defect of some kind such as a blockage or crack. At regular intervals – ideally in the Spring and Autumn – leaves and other obstructions should be cleared. Heavy snow can also cause blockages and flooding as it melts – if this is of particular concern snow boards or other modern alternatives can be used to guard against potential blockages. Also to be considered is the condition of lead flashings to chimneys and junctions and other leadwork, such as to valley or parapet gutters and to door canopies or bay windows. Leadwork will not last indefinitely and ultimately will need to be repaired or replaced. The involvement of a specialist is then advisable.
More detailed information can be found in 'Section 2- Roofing: Slating, tiling & thatch'.