An overview of an essential aspect of annual church maintenance
Cleaning and maintaining your church gutters and downpipes is a vital part of ensuring the well-being of your building. Water can be an old building's worst enemy, and the damage can already be done by the time evidence starts to appear. So keeping on top of routine maintenance can avoid very expensive problems in the longer term.
Church rainwater goods can often be high up or otherwise difficult to access. Specialist companies are available with "cherry pickers" and other equipment to provide a suitable inspection and cleaning service. A typical cost of such a service is between £300 and £500 depending on your particular building. This involves:
- protecting the gound/wall/roof surfaces on which the access equipment would bear
- inspecting and cleaning the gutters
- taking before-and-after photographs
- commenting on any obvious other defects such as loose stonework - it's important to note that this is not a detailed, professional inspection but simply a mechanism for reporting problems which would be clear to anyone with an untrained eye
Some companies who can provide this service throughout the Diocese include:
Your church architect may have further recommendations.
It may be beneficial to contact church(es) in your deanery to discuss if it would save money carrying out the work on the same day, especially if it involves the cost of hiring a cherry-picker.
It clearly makes sense to make the best use of this access. PCCs may therefore wish to arrange for their architect to attend on the same say so that they can inspect at high level with the benefit of a professional eye, particularly if a Quinquennial Inspection might be due or if there is a known potential problem. There should be no additional cost from your contractor for allowing such access unless it would involve significant additional effort or time over and above the standard gutter inspection and cleaning work (such as access to parts of the building beyond the areas with gutters and downpipes).
For a standard inspection/cleaning visit, the contractor would not be expected to:
- repair or replace damaged gutters or downpipes
- replace missing slates
- deal with blocked underground drains
- remove moss or overhanging vegetation
- undertake any repairs to stonework or lightning protection equipment
- conduct a professional survey
- anything else over and above basic inspection and cleaning.
Where such work is found to be necessary, the PCC would need to arrange a separate visit by an appropriate contractor, with advice from their architect as appropriate, and subject to any necessary faculty application.