Advice about the nature and timing of work to heating systems.
There are many options for enhancing or replacing your heating system. The best option for any particular church building depends on the physical nature of the building, the historic fabric which might be affected by any changes, and the patterns of use of the building both now and in the future. If you're looking at major work, you need to be preparing the necessary faculty application in the early part of the calendar year so that the faculty can be in place and the work undertaken comfortably ahead of the winter weather.
Alongside the heating system itself, there are many ways of minimising heat loss - details are on the DAC web page covering saving energy and the Churchcare web pages on heating, choosing-a-heating-system and sustainable buildings.
Most church buildings present PCCs with a real challenge in heating them comfortably, affordably and responsibly. The DAC fully accepts the difficulties and dilemmas which parishes face in this - particularly given the massive variation in church design and the heating solutions in any given case. PCCs often face pressure to have a warm and welcoming building for Sunday worship but find difficulty in justifying the cost of heating their buildings at all for the rest of the week. In the long term, this approach can cause significant and expensive damage to the church fabric as set out in more detail below.
The optimum solution is to aim for a stable minimum heating level at all times, boosting this as necessary for particular church services or events. This can also be more cost-effective than heating the building "from cold" just when events are on. Such an approach can also make the church more comfortable for Sunday worship as they will, to an extent, mitigate against the cold air flows which can otherwise accrue from the walls acting as "cold storage radiators" from six days of an unheated church. As well as helping to safeguard the church fabric, such approaches will make the church building usable for activities throughout the week - an important element of mission.
Significant variations in heat levels - and hence humidity - can have a devastating long-term effect on church fabric. Much of this damage may not be readily visible but, over time, can be substantial. For example:
- Roof timbers will be prone to moisture gathering where they meet stonework, creating an environment suitable for rot and pest activity
- The delicate internal workings of pipe organs can be ruined through cracking in woodwork and leatherwork.
- Condensation can corrode leadwork in windows and roofs.
Your first port of call on major heating issues should be your church architect and/or relevant contractors. The DAC also has a specialist Heating Adviser - he would nornally become involved only after you've already taken advice from your architect and/or suitable heating contractors. On first contact to the DAC you will need to provide full details (preferably by e-mail) of the problems with your existing system, photographs of the interior fo the buidling, an outline of the proposed solution from your contractor, and a plan drawing of the church showing the nature of the building and the positioning of any new equipment. Please contact the DAC Secretary in the first instance.
If your church is listed, then the DAC and local planning authority will have a particular interest in any changes to the external appearance of the building due to flue changes. So you should specifiy this particularly clearly in your faculty application with photographs of the existing arrangemenets and clear representations (e.g. catalogue photos) of the proposed new flue(s).
Advice on air source and ground source heating systems is available from Churchcare.
Further information is contained in the Church Buildings Council publication Heating Your Church by William Bordass and Colin Bemrose, available from the Church House Bookshop. Useful link: Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers This body maintains a register of consultants working in the heating industry.
Health and safety
If you are examining lagging, heating ducts and underfloor voids etc. do take care to watch out for signs of asbestos and seek professional guidance as appropriate.