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Safeguarding against storm damage

22/04/24Safeguarding against storm damage

We all expect the winter months to be harder on property, with all that cold, damp weather, frosty mornings and thick-lying snow causing untold damage. Except that this year, we have got off remarkably lightly, with an unseasonably mild winter and temperatures that have barely touched zero. But what we have had in abundance is rain, gallons of the stuff, which can be just a disruptive – to travel, for example – but also to property.

Precipitating water damage from rain

Rain can cause a great deal of damage in any circumstances. But the intense rain the UK has experienced in the first quarter of this year could be much more damaging than usual. Of the named storms from the Met Office for the winter season 2023/2024, we’ve already had Agnes, Babet, Ciaran, Debi, Elin, Fergus, Gerrit, Henk, Isha, Jocelyn and as of April 2024 have recently experienced Kathleen. Intense rainfall is exacerbating damp problems for many houses, especially older properties that may perhaps have deteriorating components already. The extreme, prolonged precipitation is allowing properties no chance to dry out between strong storms and periods of heavy rain. The fact that the rain has often been accompanied by storms and high winds, has only gone towards intensifying the damage done.

Warning signs of water damage

As building surveyors, we are often looking at properties that are showing signs of damage due to water ingress. This might manifest itself in obvious problems seen to the exterior of the property, or it may be revealed by damage inside. Damage and deterioration to a roof is often easy to spot – it can be a missing or slipped roof tile or slate, or a dislodged ridge tile at the apex of the roof. Further problems can be caused by mortar or pots missing from a chimney, or lead flashings being loosened.

More difficult to spot may be damage to the underfelt. If you suspect that there are issues with a property’s roof, it’s often a good idea to access the roof space or loft, as you may have a clearer idea of what’s going on under the roof covering – you may even see daylight between the tiles or slates. Even a small hole can allow a lot of water to gain access to a roof space, which over time can cause timbers to rot. Because of the way water travels, once it has found a way in via a channel, it can be difficult to stop it without a proper repair – which of course, due to access issues, can prove costly.

Root causes of water damage

Dampness may appear inside the property, as watermarks on a ceiling or floor, for instance, or as water runs or condensation down a wall. If you first become aware of water inside a property, then you’ll have to backtrack, to work out how the water has found its way to this point. It’s worth noting that solid wall properties are more prone to damp issues as there is no cavity. A specialist surveyor will be able to offer you advice on the root cause of the problem.

With rain combining with wind during the stormy conditions we have been experiencing, the damage caused can be much greater – and happen much faster. Tiles and leadwork that might have lasted years can suddenly be lifted or dislodged by gale force winds, and the rain can pour in. This can happen overnight and the first you’ll know about it is water getting directly inside the property. Sodden ground around a property can also be a major factor in rising damp. If the ground isn’t draining properly, or if the damp proof course is damaged or absent, this can cause issues within the building over time.    

A surveyor will always spot any potential areas of concern when they are carrying out their survey. If you think that your property may have experienced some storm damage due to the recent inclement weather, then it might be worth getting in touch with one of our team. We can check over the property’s vulnerability to storm damage and ascertain if there is any cause for concern, or further investigation.  

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