A guide to preparing your church for winter
Winter is well on its way now but along with all of its festivities, the cold weather can bring along a whole host of potential problems for your buildings, especially big old buildings like churches!
Here is your winter check-list to ensure your place of worship is winter ready!
When water freezes it expands, meaning that any pipes in your church could burst if they are filled with water that freezes. Not only does this cause obvious damage to pipes, but can also lead to flooding and other serious and possibly unrepairable damage.
Follow these steps to ensure your church is prepared for cold weather:
- Heating – Make sure your boiler is maintained, serviced and in good working order so that you can heat your church to a constant low temperature. You can use a thermostat to maintain the temperature.
- Pipes – Check that all of the pipes and tanks in the building are working and well insulated.
- Water – Make sure you and any employees/volunteers know where the water supply stopcock is, in case of an emergency. You’ll probably find this under the sink! Any drippy taps should be repaired – a drip could freeze and block the pipes! Outside taps should be drained during the cold weather to prevent freezing too.
N.B. If your building has a sprinkler system installed, you should make sure it is maintained by professionals and you should seek their advice on the subject during the cold weather.
Snow and Pathways
You have a duty of care to your place of worship’s visitors and that could include making sure that they can access the building easily and safely when it snows. We know you can’t get rid of all of the snow that falls around your building but you might like to clear one pathway for people to use.
- Create a clear path of at least a metre in width to the door of the building. Shovel the snow away and grit the area well.
- Clear snow to make space for outward opening fire escape doors to open.
Take a walk around your property and check things like:
- Weaknesses in the structure of the building and surrounding fences that could be damaged further by a storm. This includes the roof and guttering so take care when using ladders!
If for any reason your church or place of worship will be unoccupied over winter, it should be regularly inspected by a responsible person. Outside they should check for any fallen roof tiles and blocked guttering that could lead to water damage inside the church, as well as any signs of vandalism. Inside they should check that water and services are turned off, there is no sign of leaking or burst pipes and that the building is left secure.
It’s a good idea to keep a record of who carries out the inspections, dates and findings, just in case you do need to make a claim.
You should always tell us when a building is about to be left unoccupied.