The Rotter has a look back at tenement buildings and how we should be able to maintain them for another 100 years. If you live in a tenement building or are interested in their preservation then why not have a read of the latest blog update.
Our trusted tenements still going strong
Despite the onset of middle age, today's tenements are still going strong having survived two world wars and the wreaker's ball. However, if we want them to survive another 100 years or more they will require some loving care and attention.
The original tenement water management systems i.e. roofs, gutters, downpipes, external pointing, internal plumbing; were designed with a life expectancy of around fifty to sixty years. Most tenements have undergone at least one major refurbishment and many are now approaching the need for a second.
The most serious enemy of a tenement property is timber decay and if we can help protect tenements against the likes of dry rot we can ensure its survival for many generations to come.
Main sources of decay in tenements
The main cause of decay in a tenement tends to come from the following sources:
- While many tenement roofs have been retiled during their life, these new coverings still require regular maintenance and should be checked from within the roof void for obvious signs of daylight or physical evidence of water ingress.
- The roof gutters and downpipes should also be regularly monitored, particularly when it's raining, for evidence of excess moisture cascading down the external stone fabric. Persistent defects in gutters and downpipes can allow serious attacks of dry rot to exist unseen in the window lintels and the floor and ceiling joist ends.
- The pointing in between the sandstone blocks should also be regularly maintained. However, due to the height of the tenement and the cost of carrying out this work, it is often the part of the building maintenance least likely to be carried out.
- Internally, plumbing and waste pipes below kitchen/scullery sinks, WCs, baths and showers can leak undetected for many years producing serious loss of structural integrity to the floor support timbers. A common problem of failure of the seals around shower trays and baths has also increasingly allowed unseen dry rot to germinate and grow.
- In ground floor properties rising damp in the load bearing walls can often be instrumental in facilitating wet rot decay in the ground plates. Dampness rising from the damp earth of the sub floor solum can condense onto the ground floor joists again causing decay by the wet fungus.
Keeping our tenements going for another 100 years
A programmed maintenance regime of the tenements will ensure moisture ingress is not allowed to occur and regular property inspections by specialist surveyors using low disruption but in-depth investigation techniques such as fibre optic borescopes would be able to investigate those concealed areas where decay might be growing undetected.
Tenements have stood the passage of time and with a little help will be around for many years to come.