Don’t put off jobs
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings’ (SPAB) National Maintenance Week (November 21-28 ) is an annual event designed to encourage owners of all sorts of buildings, not just ancient ones, to be aware of the importance of regular care. Good maintenance is not only common sense though, it also makes economic sense, particularly at this time of year. Problems like leaking gutters and blocked drains don’t mend themselves - the longer you ignore them, the more expensive and difficult they often become to put right.
Check for leaks and blockages
Autumn’s the time when drains and gutters can get blocked by leaves and debris like twigs and bird nests. If anything obstructs the easy flow of water away from a building, damp can occur. If you notice that water’s falling sharply from a certain point on a gutter, there’s probably a blockage there, so scoop it out with a trowel, taking full safety precautions if you’re using a ladder. To stop gutters getting blocked, fit gutter guards, grates that block debris but still allow rainwater to get through.
Inspect your home’s roof for damaged or slipped tiles
Check your roof from the inside by looking for chinks of daylight in the loft. Outside, you usually find that using a pair of binoculars helps you get a clear view of the roof. Even a relatively small gap in the tiles can let in enough water to cause damage, so address the problem before damage occurs, or spreads, by calling in a roofer.
Repair wooden windows
Chipped, cracked and flaking paint can let in water, which eventually rots wood. If the wood’s already suffering from wet rot, scrape out the worst of it, treat the rest with a wood-hardening liquid designed for wet rot, and fill with an exterior wood filler - Polycell Polyfilla for Wood Large Repairs (from £9.99, Homebase) is a professional-style two-part filler that’s much easier to use than most. Finally, sand and clean off the repair, and apply exterior wood paint.
Look over your home’s exterior walls
Missing pointing and damage to render and paintwork can cause damp inside. If there’s moss or algae on an exterior wall, water is getting to it, perhaps from a dripping downpipe or gutter. Solve the problem and scrub off the growth. A good masonry paint, like those by Sandtex, provides all sorts of long-lasting protection for exterior walls.