WHAT IF YOU HAVE DAMP PROBLEMS IN YOUR HOUSE?

Rising damp, penetrating damp and condensation are the three most common types of damp that can affect your home. But each needs to be treated in different ways, and the costs can vary dramatically, so it’s important to know what type of damp is affecting your home before you try to get it fixed.

If you have had Cavity Wall Insulation fitted, then that could be a whole bigger issue.

Our image gallery below will help you to identify the type of damp or mould, and you can scroll down to find out what could be causing it. Once you’ve done this, you can then find out how to prevent it.

 


Living in a property with mould can be bad for your health, so it’s important to get it sorted as soon as possible.  The worse the situation gets, the more it’s likely to cost to remove and repair any damage.

What is a damp-proof course?

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The walls of houses generally have a barrier in them to stop rising damp from getting into walls. This is often a horizontal plastic or bitumen felt strip in the wall, 15cm above the ground level. Building regulations came into force in 1875, specifying that these had to be built into houses, so older houses may not have one.


What is a damp-proof membrane?

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A damp-proof membrane (DPM) is a membrane material applied to prevent moisture transmission. A common example is polyethylene sheeting laid under a concrete slab to prevent the concrete from gaining moisture through capillary action. A DPM may be used for the DPC.


What is a chemical damp proof course?

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A chemical damp course is installed by drilling holes at least 15 centimetres above the ground level fairly close together and feeding in a chemical compound that repels damp. Most houses that have had this done, you will be able to see the drill holes along the building on all exposed sides.

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What is a damp proof course?

damp proof course (DPC) is a key weapon in the fight against damp homes. Damp is one of the most common property problems encountered in British homes and can cause significant problems.

Often it is damage to the appearance of a property that people notice first, but it is the structure of the property where the real problems occur. Cracks to masonry, crumbling plaster and rotting timbers are all common consequence of damp, not to mention the damp inside the home causing mould and damage to furnishings, and even more worrying to your health.

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The damp proof course is, most commonly, a layer of damp proofing material or slate laid between the bricks near to ground level of the property when the property is being built. If installed correctly it should stop damp rising from the ground into the walls of the property. There’s no real figures available that say how long this style of damp course actually lasts. Properties that were built in the 1930s – 1960’s would mean this type of damp proof course is well over 50 years old.

DPC’s also work in conjunction with cavity walls by taking moisture that enters the cavity and channelling it back out of the property. If a damp proof course fails or is absent they are often replaced by a chemical damp proof course.

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A chemical damp proof course can usually be recognised by the small drill holes that it leaves behind when the perimeter of the building is drilled for the chemical damp course to be sprayed into these holes. The above graphic is a perfect example of where the chemical damp course has been done directly above where the original damp proof membrane would have been.

A missing damp proof course, or one that has been compromised by rendering over it, meaning the wall below the damp proof has been bridged with the wall above the damp proof, is one of the main reasons for failed cavity wall insulation. In these instances, damp will not be able to exit the cavity, leading to damp insulation material which can then affect the internal wall.

A DPC is just one form of damp proofing, other popular methods include:

  • Damp-proof membrane (DPM) is a material such as polyethylene applied to prevent moisture moving through the property.
  • Integral damp proofing can occur in the construction stage by adding materials to the concrete mix which repel moisture.
  • Waterproofing the exterior of the building to offer additional resistance against rain.
  • Pressure grouting cracks and joints in masonry to resist the ingress of water.

Many people react to damp issues by sealing their properties, but it is often the opposite approach, allowing your home to breathe, which is the right approach.

If your home cavities have been insulated with rock wool and are exposed to damp, the rock wool will sook up a considerable amount of water and retain it. QUICK VIDEO

This will make the wall cold and damp, drawing heat from the inside of the home to the outside, having the opposite required effect for what it was installed for, and can allow moisture to travel inwards and cause damp and mould in your home.

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WHAT TO CHECK

Choosing cavity wall insulation

In many properties, cavity wall insulation can help save energy and cut fuel bills. But what should you consider before making the decision to have it installed in your home? And what should you expect from a reputable installer?

Things to look out for throughout the cavity wall insulation process, to help you spot potential problems early.

Before the survey:
How old is your house and do you have cavity walls?

If your home was built in the last 10 years, it is likely that the cavity is already insulated. Most cavity walls are in houses built from the 1920s onwards. Use this Energy Saving Trust guide to tell if your house has cavity walls. 

Where is your house situated?

If the walls of your home are regularly exposed to wind-driven rain, they may be unsuitable for cavity wall insulation. Some houses are more exposed to the elements than others, for example, if they are on a hill or by the coast. South-westerly facing properties are most susceptible.

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Do you have damp problems?

Not everyone who has damp problems is aware of them, but if you already have issues with damp, cavity wall insulation can make the problems worse. If you have damp walls, black mould or fungus problems or water ingress, or if your home smells damp and musty, you should get a professional to advise on whether you have damp. Installing insulation before any damp issue is rectified is highly advised against.

Are there cracks or damage to the outside walls?

If the walls of your home are not in good condition, rainwater can penetrate the outside wall and make the insulation (and the inside of the house) damp. The house should be in good repair before cavity wall insulation is installed.

During the survey:

Did the surveyor look both inside and outside the property?

A proper survey should be more than a quick ten-minute walk around the outside of the house. The surveyor should look inside and out and consider all the potential problems, as well as making thorough notes on what the installer should bring (amounts of insulation, vents, airbricks, brushes to separate off neighbouring properties with adjoining walls etc).

Did they drill a hole in the wall and look inside using a cavity camera?

This is to see whether there is already insulation in the property, but also to see if the cavity is clear. If there is rubble in the cavity or if there are mortar droppings on the wall ties, this can stop cavity wall insulation going into the walls evenly. If there are gaps, these can cause cold spots which can lead to damp problems.

Did they ask questions about damp problems in your home?

See above. If you already have issues with damp, cavity wall insulation can make the problems worse.

Did they note vents, boiler flues, driveway levels, open fires, oblique chimney breasts and timber-suspended floors?

These can affect both whether the installation can go ahead and the way it is carried out.

After the installation:

Are you getting damp patches, black mould, oblique condensation? Is the house noticeably colder than before?

All these are warning signs that either the house was unsuitable or that the installation was not successful. In the first instance, contact the company who installed the insulation. If they are not able to resolve the problems, and your installation was done by a company which is registered withCIGA (the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency), contact them as well. Keep a record diary of all the problems (including photos) and of all the correspondence between you, the company and CIGA.

CIGA have been reported to deny any responsibility and tell house owners that the damp problems are down to bad property maintenance. It is important you have qualified advice and may be best to seek independent legal advice as the costs involved could be many thousands of pounds.

Wall Cavity Claims have a panel of specialist solicitors to represent clients on a No Win No Fee service. They instruct a qualified surveyor to visit your property and if the surveyors report highlights faults which can be attributed to the installer, installation or materials, or any other factor, your file can be referred to a panel solicitor with qualified evidence.

Wall Cavity Claims currently covers the whole of the North West, and will be rolling the service out nationally in the coming weeks.

Or call us FREEPHONE – from landlines & mobiles – call 0800-8-654321

Thinking of having wall cavity insulation installed?

Choosing cavity wall insulation

In many properties, cavity wall insulation can help save energy and cut fuel bills. But what should you consider before making the decision to have it installed in your home? And what should you expect from a reputable installer?

Things to look out for throughout the cavity wall insulation process, to help you spot potential problems early.

Before the survey:
How old is your house and do you have cavity walls?

If your home was built in the last 10 years, it is likely that the cavity is already insulated. Most cavity walls are in houses built from the 1920s onwards. Use this Energy Saving Trust guide to tell if your house has cavity walls. 

Where is your house situated?

If the walls of your home are regularly exposed to wind-driven rain, they may be unsuitable for cavity wall insulation. Some houses are more exposed to the elements than others, for example, if they are on a hill or by the coast. South-westerly facing properties are most susceptible.

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Do you have damp problems?

Not everyone who has damp problems is aware of them, but if you already have issues with damp, cavity wall insulation can make the problems worse. If you have damp walls, black mould or fungus problems or water ingress, or if your home smells damp and musty, you should get a professional to advise on whether you have damp. Installing insulation before any damp issue is rectified is highly advised against.

Are there cracks or damage to the outside walls?

If the walls of your home are not in good condition, rainwater can penetrate the outside wall and make the insulation (and the inside of the house) damp. The house should be in good repair before cavity wall insulation is installed.

During the survey:

Did the surveyor look both inside and outside the property?

A proper survey should be more than a quick ten-minute walk around the outside of the house. The surveyor should look inside and out and consider all the potential problems, as well as making thorough notes on what the installer should bring (amounts of insulation, vents, airbricks, brushes to separate off neighbouring properties with adjoining walls etc).

Did they drill a hole in the wall and look inside using a cavity camera?

This is to see whether there is already insulation in the property, but also to see if the cavity is clear. If there is rubble in the cavity or if there are mortar droppings on the wall ties, this can stop cavity wall insulation going into the walls evenly. If there are gaps, these can cause cold spots which can lead to damp problems.

Did they ask questions about damp problems in your home?

See above. If you already have issues with damp, cavity wall insulation can make the problems worse.

Did they note vents, boiler flues, driveway levels, open fires, oblique chimney breasts and timber-suspended floors?

These can affect both whether the installation can go ahead and the way it is carried out.

After the installation:

Are you getting damp patches, black mould, oblique condensation? Is the house noticeably colder than before?

All these are warning signs that either the house was unsuitable or that the installation was not successful. In the first instance, contact the company who installed the insulation. If they are not able to resolve the problems, and your installation was done by a company which is registered withCIGA (the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency), contact them as well. Keep a record diary of all the problems (including photos) and of all the correspondence between you, the company and CIGA.

CIGA have been reported to deny any responsibility and tell house owners that the damp problems are down to bad property maintenance. It is important you have qualified advice and may be best to seek independent legal advice as the costs involved could be many thousands of pounds.

Wall Cavity Claims have a panel of specialist solicitors to represent clients on a No Win No Fee service. They instruct a qualified surveyor to visit your property and if the surveyors report highlights faults which can be attributed to the installer, installation or materials, or any other factor, your file can be referred to a panel solicitor with qualified evidence.

Wall Cavity Claims currently covers the whole of the North West, and will be rolling the service out nationally in the coming weeks.

Or call us FREEPHONE – from landlines & mobiles – call 0800-8-654321

HAVE I GOT WALL CAVITY INSULATION?

If your house was built after the 1920s, it is likely to have cavity walls. Older houses are more likely to have solid walls. If your home was built in the last 10 years, it was probably built with insulation installed at the time.

If you can see the brickwork on the outside of the house, look at the pattern of the bricks. If your home has cavity walls, the bricks will usually have a regular pattern like this:

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If your home has solid walls, the bricks will have an alternating pattern like this:

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If the brickwork has been covered by render, you can also tell by measuring the width of the wall.  Examine a window or door on one of your external walls. If a brick wall is more than 3000mm thick, (from the outer wall to inner wall) then it probably has a cavity; a narrower wall is probably solid. Stone walls may be thicker still but are usually solid.
If your house is a steel-frame or timber-framed building, or is made from pre-fabricated concrete, different rules apply for insulation and this should be surveyed by a specialist before and if any insulation is fitted.


A lot of contractors should have fitted special air vents as below, which can be a good sign that you have cavity wall insulation fitted and to a good standard of quality work. Many houses will find their old air vents have merely been blocked up with silicone to stop the cavity insulation falling out, which can be a worrying start if you’re seeking a survey or suffering damp.

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The good news is that most cavity wall insulation firms had to register the installation with CIGA – Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency, which then offered a 25-year guarantee for the insulation, either themselves or through the installers insurance.
The bad news is that it can cost a considerable amount of time, money and work to rectify a bad installation.

Wall Cavity Claims is a legal services company who offer a free qualified survey to assess your cavity wall insulation and ensure it was installed correctly, and if not, we have access to specialist panel solicitors who work  No Win No Fee. 

Or call us FREEPHONE – from landlines & mobiles – call 0800-8-654321

WHAT IS WALL CAVITY INSULATION?

If your house was built after the 1920s, it is likely to have cavity walls. Older houses are more likely to have solid walls. If your home was built in the last 10 years, it was probably built with insulation installed at the time.

If you can see the brickwork on the outside of the house, look at the pattern of the bricks. If your home has cavity walls, the bricks will usually have a regular pattern like this:

insulation

If your home has solid walls, the bricks will have an alternating pattern like this:

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If the brickwork has been covered by render, you can also tell by measuring the width of the wall.  Examine a window or door on one of your external walls. If a brick wall is more than 3000mm thick, (from the outer wall to inner wall) then it probably has a cavity; a narrower wall is probably solid. Stone walls may be thicker still but are usually solid.

If your house is a steel-frame or timber-framed building, or is made from pre-fabricated concrete, different rules apply for insulation and this should be surveyed by a specialist before and if any insulation is fitted.

Modern technology tells us that up to 40% of our home energy heat can be lost through a cavity wall if not insulated. A Government backed scheme aimed to help fill these cavities with insulation and keep our homes warmer while reducing the amount of energy needed to warm our homes, and have a better impact on energy saving.

The product itself is really good, if the property is suitable and the installer has done proper pre-checks and installation, the difference can be outstanding. Millions of homes had the cavity wall insulation installed and it is estimated up to 3 million homes may be at risk of serious damp issues or even structural issues and health risks where the installation was not carried out to the agreed specifications.

If a cavity is not filled 100% compact, void areas can gather moisture and lead to damp. Where a cavity is not fully clean and cleared of debris, this can bridge the gap and again introduce moisture and cause damp. The lack of ‘brushing off’ a cavity that joins a neighbour’s property means insulation may seep out into the next door cavity and lead to voids in your walls, or cross contaminate if different materials are used. An active damp course should be in place to keep the damp to ground level and not reach the cavity wall insulation as this can soak and travel up the walls causing damp. There are many other reasons why incorrect installation can cause damp and other problems.

Those who installed the cavity wall insulation should have carried out a pre-survey assessment to ensure the property itself was suitable for cavity wall insulation and subsequently assessed that there were no hazards present that could cause failure and problems of the cavity wall insulation later down the line.

The good news is that most cavity wall insulation firms had to register the installation with CIGA – Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency, which then offered a 25-year guarantee for the insulation.

The bad news is that it can cost a considerable amount of time, money and work to rectify a bad installation.
Wall Cavity Claims is a legal services company who offer a free survey to assess your cavity wall insulation and ensure it was installed correctly, and if not, we have access to specialist panel solicitors who work  No Win No Fee. 

Or call us FREEPHONE – from landlines & mobiles – call 0800-8-654321

Cavity Wall Insulation Extraction

Cavity wall insulation is removed by using an industrial vacuum type machine; the nozzle will be positioned in the brick wall using the drilling pattern the contractor used when installing the insulation. 
For the removal of insulation contractors will start from the base of the property, working their way up in the drilling pattern from the install.It’s important to check that all the insulation has been removed and that the cavity wall is free from any materials and that an active damp course is in place.

Cavity wall extraction usually takes around two days to complete although it would depend on the size of the property.

There are certain materials than can be extracted from cavity walls which are:

  • Expanded polystyrene beads
  • Rockwool mineral fibre
  • Whitewool glass mineral fibre
  • Loose/bonded urea formaldehyde insulation

The cost to complete an extraction and re-install can cost several thousands of pounds, always check your contractor has the right certification to do this work and is registered with www.ciga.co.uk
This process will typically be done when it has been proven the install was incorrect, is causing damp or other issues, and generally will require a full extraction, clean, and reinstallation if required.

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Different House Structures

Brick and block:Usually traditional houses were built with masonry blocks such as concrete blocks and bricks. The internal wall built with concrete blocks and the external wall built with bricks. Brickwork is built as a pattern that will support the structure of the house.

Timber frame:Timber frame construction is an internal structure which is designed to support the structure of the house. The timber frame is then cladded by a material such as brick that will then provide a finished look for the house.

Steel frame:Steel framework is a lightweight but a strong frame then cladded by a material such as brick.  The steel framework is also weather resistant, exterior panels are attached to the steel frame and then rendered.

 

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Different Types of Houses

Linked semi-detached:A linked semi-detached property are houses that share no common walls, but typically liked together by a garage.

Detached:A detached house is classed as a single family home, also called a single-detached dwelling. Detached houses stand alone.

Semi-detached:A semi-detached house is a single family dwelling house, which shares one common wall. Semi-detached houses are usually like a mirror image.

Bungalow:A bungalow is a type of building that only has one story; some bungalows are accommodated with extra rooms in the loft space.

Terraced:Terraced houses are houses built in a row and share sides walls also looked mirrored. In some areas there known as row houses or linked houses.

Town house:A town house is a tall narrow terraced house, which usually has 3 or more floors.

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Types of Wall Cavity Insulation

Rockwool cavity wall insulation:Rockwool insulation is the most common insulation used for domestic type properties. This insulation generates heat and is spun to produce a fibre material. Rockwool insulation is blown into the cavity, filing the gaps between outer walls of the building completely. This insulation does absorb waterso it is essential an active damp course is in place, the damp course is not bridged and brick face and mortar are sound with no damage. It can be used brick to brick or concrete block to brick as long as the cavity width is 50mm or more.

Polystyrene bead cavity wall insulation: Polystyrene beads are also used as cavity wall insulation; these are pumped into the wall mixed with an adhesive which will then bond the beads together to prevent them from spilling out the wall. This type of insulation is also used in narrow cavities. Polystyrene beads can allow any damp to move down the beads and be released so as not to soak and hold damp and transfer moisture into the property.

Foam cavity wall insulation: Expanding foam is used as cavity wall insulation; it requires holes drilled into the mortar joints of the brick wall as small as 8mm. Foam insulation is ideal for engineering bricks as larger holes would damage these types of brick due to larger holes being made for other types of insulation. Polystyrene beads are thought to be the best material followed by Rockwool.

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