Regular maintenance is a key part of caring for a church building. It can help you to save money and headaches through spotting potential problems early before they become serious issues.
The biggest threat to the fabric of a church building is water ingress. It is crucial that rainwater is taken away from the building efficiently and effectively. Regular clearance of gutters, downpipes, drains and other parts of the drainage system is a significant part of any maintenance regime.
Annual maintenance checks
A small group of volunteers should be able to carry out a maintenance inspection of your church building using just a pair of binoculars, a camera, and a pen and notepad to record any concerns. This should be done at least once a year, but maintenance needs may vary between church buildings. Checking rainwater goods during heavy rainfall will quickly show you how effectively the rainwater goods are working! A checklist has been created by the Diocese of Peterborough, which can be used when completing one of these inspections. You can download a copy here. A good Quinquennial Inspection report will have a clear list of maintenance tasks for you to consider included by default.
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings has created a Faith in Maintenance Calendar which is highly recommended as a guide of what to consider for each month, and it can be accessed here
Help with maintenance
The National Churches Trust has a web-based maintenance service called MaintenanceBooker. This easy to use system allows you to request online quotes for a range of services. You can also apply for a grant to help with the cost of some of the essential work. For more information, please visit: www.maintenancebooker.org.uk.
Theft of metal from churches
The theft of valuable metals such as lead and copper from church buildings has been a major issue for historic churches across the UK in recent years. These materials are stripped from roofs, guttering and other areas, which leaves the buildings vulnerable to water ingress through rainfall and heavy winds.
The number of instances of metal theft has thankfully declined in the past couple of years, but church congregations need to remain vigilant.
If metal theft has occurred
If you discover that your church has recently been subjected to metal theft, you should notify the following people:
• Your local police department on their non-emergency phone line, and obtain a crime number
• Your insurance company
• Your church architect or surveyor to inspect the damage and provide advice on emergency temporary coverings
• Your Archdeacon, the Historic Churches Support Officer, and the DAC Secretary for support and guidance - please also complete this form and send it to the DAC
• Any neighbouring churches, as they may also be at risk
Some grants may be available through your county historic churches trust to assist with the cost of installing a roof alarm system.