With another cold winter being predicted, we are reminding our Churches to get ready for the unexpected. It is better to be well prepared, and so we have listed a few ideas to help Church Stewards do what they can to ensure their Church is ready for winter.
– Safely, clean out the guttering and downpipes if you can, and check for any leaks or damage. If working at height, seek suitably qualified support, if in doubt.
– Check safely, the Church roof from ground level to look for problem signs such as loose or missing tiles. Seek suitably qualified support, if in doubt.
– Check any trees that may be close by, for loose or precarious branches. Seek specialist advice to have them made safe.
– Check that any high level fixtures appear securely fixed. If in doubt, seek specialist advice.
– Check for for cracked, loose or missing pointing or rendering on exterior walls. Can you have the cracks fixed before the winter water finds it way in?
– Clear out leaves and debris blocking up low level drain grilles, and clean patios and footpaths before they get slippery from a build-up of dirt.
– Check your external lighting is working properly, and that access paths are well lit and easily discernable.
– Ensure your boiler and central heating systems have been serviced recently. Check the timers on your heating to ensure it turns on and off at the right time.
– Bleed your radiators to ensure that any trapped air is released, therefore allowing the central heating hot water to fill every part of your radiator and hence work efficiently.
– Do you have a frost thermostat fitted, and if so, is it working effectively? It may be wise to leave the heating on either using the frost setting, or at 5degrees Celsius to prevent freezing.
– If you have portable heaters, are they in safe and good working order, and are they easily accessible?
– Repair any dripping taps. If the weather is cold enough, drips can freeze before they drain away, causing pipes to block and burst.
– Are you in a flood risk area, or is your Church susceptible to flooding? If so, consider moving your items and equipment above the flood level. Do you need to stock up on water-absorbent cushions, flood alarms and airbrick covers?
– If your Church has an open chimney, ensure that the chimneys and flues have been swept, especially if you use an open fire or wood burner.
– Where present, ensure your insulation has not moved, or come loose. Examine and ensure pipes are well lagged pipes, as well as the water tanks, and fit draught excluders and insulate where you can, if possible.
– Make sure your fire fighting equipment, fire alarms, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are all in full working order.
– Ensure that the Church Logbooks clearly show a record of where the cold water stopcock is, where to turn off the mains electricity and the gas supplies, in case of unexpected leaks and emergencies.
– Ensure that the Church Logbook features a list of useful numbers, including contact details for Church Stewards, out of hours handyman, plumber, gas installer and electrician.
Consider creating a Church Winter Kit, perhaps including Hi Visibility Vests, torches, rope, shovels, rock salt and perhaps a small toolbox. You never know what you might need in an emergency!
For more information and advice, Churches should visit the Ecclesiastical Insurance website, or consult their respective buildings insurer.