Get your older property autumn-ready
It has been a pretty wet summer this year, even by the usual standards of Scotland’s climate. While that might be good news for some gardens, it can cause issues for traditional buildings. For this reason its best to check your property and maintain some key areas – especially with more wet weather in Autumn/Winter to come. Get your older property autumn-ready with our quick guide.
Probably the most important thing is to make sure your rainwater goods are working effectively. When functioning as they should, gutters and downpipes will remove rainwater quickly from the roof without time for it to back up or overspill onto other parts of the building such as the masonry walls.
Defects in gutters and downpipes, or blockages, can lead to rainwater running down the surface of the building. If significant, this can saturate the masonry, meaning it remains wetter for longer and could cause further issues with your building. A good way to check if the rainwater goods are defective is to check how they are functioning during a heavy downpour (reminder: you might want to take an umbrella) or immediately afterward. If there are overspills on the walls, look to see what defects may be present, or ask an experienced roofing contractor to make a check.
Summers like this year, with periods of high rainfall followed by spells of hot sunny weather present other issues: vegetation growth. Plant seeds or spores can trap in open masonry joints, or take root in dirt in gutters, growing very rapidly in the conditions.
If you do one thing to prepare your building for the autumn/winter period, it’s to arrange to clear any debris or vegetation from blocking your gutters and downpipes. Doing this gives your building the best chance to deal with rainfall effectively.
If you do one thing to prepare your building for the autumn/winter period, it’s to arrange to clear any debris or vegetation from blocking your gutters and downpipes.
Other areas to keep an eye on include open joints in external walls or chimney area. Open joints and failed pointing can allow more rainwater to penetrate deeper into your building. This especially becomes an issue during the ‘freeze-thaw cycle’ during the colder months. Repeated freezing and thawing can force the break-up of stonemasonry as the ice expands, damaging the fabric of your building.
It’s worth keeping an eye out for vulnerable areas, where water might be sneaking in where it shouldn’t. For example, if rainwater enters behind a non-traditional material – such as cement harling – the non-breathable nature of the cement prevents the walls for drying out as they were originally intended to.
If your property has timber sash and case windows keep tabs on their condition as well. Ensuring that the woodwork is well-painted, using an appropriate breathable paint can help maintain their condition. While you’re looking, check to see if the mastic is in good condition too to keep your windows in good working condition and catch any issues nice and early.
Historic Environment Scotland identifies the wetter conditions that climate change is projected to bring as a key risk to our historic environment. Keeping Stirling’s traditional buildings functioning as they were originally designed with regular maintenance and care is key to making sure they can withstand increased rainfall.