How to avoid damage to your heritage property

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Share on Facebook0Email this to someone

Traditional timber sash window replacement in stone farmhouseIn our last blog we talked about how the weather can damage old properties and what can be done to prevent it. But what about the other things that commonly cause damage? Smoke, plants, animals and botched home improvement jobs can all cause problems in the long run.

Don’t ignore them, do the following.

Smoke damage

Older houses built with fully functioning chimneys are likely to have some degree of smoke damage. Although not a safety hazard like fire damage, smoke from the fireplace would escape into the house, damaging the property over time.

Soot and charring is common around the fireplace and the chimney breast, but it is worth getting an expert to check the rest of your house for structural damage, especially if it has timber frames. Also, if you have a functioning stove or fireplace maintain and clean your chimney flumes to prevent fires in the chimney.


Vines may make your home look like a fairytale cottage or a stately country house, but under the surface is a different story. English ivy, for example, is very invasive and its roots can dig down in between bricks or stone, exposing the structure to the elements. Combined with frost, plants can cause buildings to crumble.

Using a trellis is a good option to keep plants from climbing up the wall and causing structural damage. But remember to leave a few inches between the trellis and the house so as to avoid damage.

Pests and woodland animals

Mice, rats and wood-nibbling insects are the usual culprits that can wreak havoc on the inside of a property. Usually, they leave a pretty obvious trail, including droppings and holes in the woodwork.

Pests can be dealt with quickly by hiring an extermination company. Harder to deal with are animals that can burrow under a house and cause subsidence, like badgers, for example. However, if they are causing structural problems your local council should be able to deal with them.

Paints, treatments and other modern materials

Updating the décor in an old house needs to be done sensitively. Using modern materials can sometimes do more harm than good. Older houses were built using breathable materials, so covering them over can worsen damp and rot problems.

If you get someone in to have a look at it, choose a specialist in heritage renovation – this will save you time and money in the long run.

At Wessex, we upgrade timber sash windows in older properties. If your wooden sash windows need some care and attention, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do for you.