Why cavity wall insulation can cause damp and mould

We all hear about the benefits of having cavity wall insulation and the much promised saving on costly fuel bills but did you know in some properties it can do more harm than good?

Let’s first make it crystal clear though, this is not applicable to all homes with cavity wall insulation, in fact in some cases, having walls filled with those little white beads can drastically warm up a cold home and significantly reduce heating bills, which is good in anyone’s book.

However, there are some things you really need to be aware of if you are thinking about having it done, or have had insulation fitted and are now suffering from mould on the walls inside your home when you thought those days were over.

It’s a bit of a paradox really, I mean, surely insulation is a good thing?

Even the government get in on the act and offer generous grants to all kinds of homeowners to get walls insulated and stop the waste of carbon and greenhouse gas, so what’s the deal here then?

The energy saving trust suggest that with this type of home improvement on your home the average savings for a detached house would be around £250 a year and a semi, the savings would be £150 a year

(source: energysavingtrust.org.uk/Insulation/Cavity-wall-insulation) however when you think about it, it’s not a HUGE saving but it does look good on paper though eh?

How can something that, in theory, sounds great, actually be a bad thing? Let’s explain a couple of things first.

What is cavity wall insulation?

For those who don’t know, most houses built after 1930 have 2 walls in their construction, the inner walls that surround you inside, and the outer walls with render, paint or pebbledash on them, for example.

There is a gap of only a few inches between the 2 walls or “leaves” which act as an air barrier, meaning that, in theory, all the cold and rain from outside won’t come inside because there is a gap.

Can you guess what happens when you fill that gap with insulation?

 

When insulation is fitted, a team arrives and drills lots of holes in the wall (see photo) and then pump millions of tiny polystyrene beads, the same type that is found in a bean bag.

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Evidence of cavity wall insulation

It is worth noting that on many surfaces, especially on render, the workmen will leave nasty scars on the wall which, unless you subsequently have the walls coated with an exterior textured wall coating, you will not hide it with normal paint.

Appearances aside though, if cavity wall insulating is good, why does it cause damp in some homes?

Quite simply, this can be due to many things such as exterior walls being in a poor condition, due to either a lack of maintenance, severe weather conditions, or more usually, the fact that the external walls have lost their weatherproofing ability.There’s also things like rubble in the cavity which can cause a good installation to go bad; properties not being ‘brushed off’ so insulation materials leak from your walls into neighbouring walls and leave gaps in your insulation.

When bad brickwork or pointing is evident, the water that rains on to your walls outside, gets soaked up inside the bricks. This normally would stop at the cavity and would not pass into the house, although a good way to spot this is if your interior walls feel cold to the touch, even when the heating is on.

So the filling inside the walls starts to transmit the moisture to the inner leaf or wall, causing damp, which is what happened to the house below.

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mould around window caused by cavity filled insulation

The walls on the house we used as an example are from a house that has had very little in the way of maintenance and as such the external wall surface soaks up water. If the cavities had not been filled, the black mould around the window frame and the ceiling would not have appeared.

It is worth mentioning that if mould appears on your internal walls, this is a very BAD sign and we discussed at great length some time ago, how detrimental mould can be to your health.

Penetrating damp caused by cavity wall insulation

Can having cavities filled cause any more issues?

 

Yes. Another issue that can occur is what is known as interstitial condensation which is when the inner leaf of the wall after insulation becomes much warmer (of course) and this has a knock-on effect of pushing condensation away from the inner wall.

This can cause condensation to form WITHIN the cavity because the dew-point, with warmer air, gets pushed back and out towards the cold outer wall, condensing and forming in the brickwork itself.

This problem comes into it’s own during winter time when the water now trapped inside the bricks actually freezes, expanding as it does, and forming cracks to the bricks.

Over time this can cause seriously expensive brickwork repairs, or in the case of smooth render or pebbledash, it can push the wall surface away from the bricks, causing what’s known as “hollow render” or “blown pebbledash”!

Is my home suitable for cavity filled insulation?

 

Probably yes, but it very much depends on the condition of your exterior walls.

If the walls are porous and let in water, you could do worse than to consider having the walls done too.

If your house walls are weatherproofed with a protective coating, they won’t let the water in, so you won’t get damp, plus the installation of the cavity fill will be successful and you will benefit from much lower heating bills.

Be aware though that you need the insulation fitted BEFORE you have any further works to the exterior walls. A textured wall coating will cover up the scars left, but masonry paint won’t, so bear that in mind.

Look in the yellow pages to find your local cavity wall insulation company and be sure to ask them about the green deal or warmer homes scheme as you could get your home insulated for FREE!

So if I already have cavity filled walls and mould appears, what can be done?

 

Quite simply, some attention and care to the outside walls may stop any water from transmitting inside and the mould MIGHT go away, but knowing what the actual cause is, and being able to look inside the cavity with a cavity inspection camera is usually only able to be done by qualified professionals. If you did have the specialist tools to perform these tasks, would you know what you are looking for?

If damp is an issue and has only been a problem after you have had cavity wall insulation fitted, then it is probably your first port of call to get this checked. Wall Cavity Claims offer a free and no obligation cavity inspection surveyor and if faults are highlighted, they have a panel of specialist solicitors who work No Win No Fee and can represent your complaint for compensation and damages.

It is extremely important you get it checked as mould and associated damp can cause severe health problems for you and your family.

 Top tips for achieving an E EPC rating

With the new EPC changes coming into force in April 2018, those who invest in the private rented market should already be considering which energy efficient measures to implement in order to increase the EPC rating of their properties in the most cost effective way.

Not only will these actions benefit you as a landlord, increasing the value of your properties, but they will also make the homes you own more attractive to future tenants, while helping them save money on their bills.  

If the EPC rating on your property or properties is currently below E and you are looking where to start making changes.

Home insulation

Home insulation is one of the best things you can invest in to reduce heat loss and improve your EPC rating. In addition, there are various government grants available that cover a significant proportion of the costs which means that the insulation can often be installed with a small initial outlay. Here are the various options:

External wall insulation

This type of insulation is suitable for homes with solid brick walls – generally those built before 1920. Its quick and relatively easy to install, causing minimum disruption, and has the extra benefit of improving the property’s appearance and value. External wall insulation can also increase the life of the property by protecting the existing substrate from the, and can help with condensation problems. The result? Heating loss is reduced by up to 45% with annual savings of around £500.

Cavity wall insulation

Cavity wall insulation is also a quick process, often completed in a day. It is specifically for homes built post-1920 as the external walls are made of two layers with a gap – or cavity – between them. Cavity wall insulation fills that gap, keeping the warmth in to save energy. Although it is seems a great product, recent press says a lot of properties now have problems months or years after being fitted, and the full scale of the problem or reasons are not researched enough yet. Expect typical savings of around £160 per year if installed correctly.

Always check the firm doing the insulation is properly qualified and ask for some referrals for jobs they have already done.

Some people are now having to resort to legal action after the cavity insulation was fitted incorrectly, either pre-installation checks were not done right or the insulation itself wasn’t correct, and home owners now suffer from damp and mould and other ongoing issues.

You can read more at www.wallcavityclaims.co.uk

Loft insulation

It may come as a surprise, but an uninsulated or badly insulated house can lose up to 33% of its heat through the roof. Under Government recommendations, loft insulation should be at least 270mm thick – typically made up of a 100mm layer running between the joists and a 170mm top layer running perpendicular to the joists. Cost savings for this system are roughly the same as cavity wall insulation. 

Room in roof insulation

This has become more and more popular over the years as people choose to make the most of their loft by turning it into another bedroom, or office.

The installation is carried out by securing ‘insulating batts’ to the walls and ceiling of the room and slabs of insulation are fitted between them. The insulation is then covered with plasterboard and skimmed ready for decoration. Opting for room in roof insulation could lead to savings of over £500 per annum.

Smart storage heaters

Exactly what it says on the tin; smart storage heaters store and then release heat at pre-set times and temperatures. Not only are they up to 27% cheaper to run than a standard storage heater, they’re up to 47% cheaper to run than an electric convector heater, and often come with a boost option for unexpected heat demands (i.e. on those cold winter nights!) Look around for smart storage heaters that will benefit your EPC rating as not all of them do.

LED bulbs

LED bulbs are slightly more expensive to buy, but use 80% less energy than an incandescent or halogen bulbs. They also last and last, up to 25 times longer (drastically reducing replacement costs), are safer to work with and are more much environmentally-friendly as they contain no harmful substances like Mercury (often found in CFL and halogen bulbs).

Double Glazing

There are still many properties that have single glazed windows and the amount of heat and energy loss that can just flow straight out from your windows can be a massive 35%. Big bay windows are often worse than any others, and depending what curtains are up, heat and energy will flow out. Double Glazing reduces this down to about 8% and with good heavy curtains, can be reduced down to 5%

 

Cavity Wall Insulation Problems

The government is keen for home-owners to insulate their homes, but cavity walls were built as a barrier against penetrating dampness, So what happens when you fill an empty cavity with insulating material? Or in other words, when is a cavity wall not a cavity wall? Answer: when it is filled in.

Cavity Wall Insulation Facts

Cavity masonry walls were introduced on the exposed western coasts of Britain and Ireland in the nineteenth century, to stop wind-driven rain from penetrating to the inside surfaces. They gradually spread to other, dryer, parts of the country, because the air layer trapped in the cavity was found to provide a degree of thermal insulation. Since 1945 this insulation quality has been enhanced by using lightweight blocks, rather than bricks, to build the inner leaf of the wall. But the main reason for building cavity walls has always been to keep the rain out.

Since the late 1990s, the Building Regulations have required new houses to be built with insulation material in the cavity. As long as they are built properly, this insulation should not compromise the walls’ resistance to rain penetration, although the time test on mass survey after 10 and 15 and 20 years might prove different.

In most cases, the insulation is fixed to the inner leaf, leaving a narrow cavity to intercept any rainwater that penetrates the outer brick leaf. This insulation material is usually in the form of rigid foam boards, which are intrinsically waterproof, or semi-rigid mineral-wool or glass fibre “batts”, where the fibres are aligned vertically so that any penetrating rainwater should drain downwards in the cavity and not have the chance to penetrate across to the inner leaf. This is important, because the Building Research Establishment has found that single-leaf brick walls ALWAYS leak when exposed to wind-driven rain. The leakage occurs at the vertical (or “perp”) joints between adjacent bricks, because of drying shrinkage in the mortar. It is not a question of poor workmanship; it is an inevitable property of this form of construction.

Many readers with single-leaf brick garages attached to their cavity-walled homes, for example, complain that rainwater penetrates through from the outside when they are subjected to wind-driven rain, resulting in puddles on the garage floor. Well, if the rainwater is penetrating their garage walls, then the same thing will be happening to the brick outer leaves of their living rooms and bedrooms, but as long as the cavities are left clear, the water should run down the inside of the brickwork to foundation level and never be noticed. Until the recent fad for cavity wall insulation took hold, the only times rainwater penetration was a problem was when the steel wall ties were dirty with mortar droppings and/or built sloping downwards from outer leaf to inner leaf, or the cavity itself was blocked at low level with mortar droppings or other debris. In those cases penetrating rainwater could track across the cavity and show up as damp patches on internal decorative surfaces, but the solution was relatively simple – cut out a few bricks and clear the rubbish out of the cavity, or replace the offending wall ties.

Damp problems caused by cavity wall insulation

Until recently, dampness problems caused by cavity wall insulation have not generally occurred in houses where the insulation was built-in from new, although this is now changing, and the first accounts of dampness caused by built-in cavity batts are starting to come in.

Most problems occur in houses which were built prior to the 1990s, with clear cavities, which have subsequently been filled (referred to in the industry as “retro fill”). The material which has attracted most complaints is blown mineral-wool fibre. This material consists of loose fibres which – as the name suggests – are blown in through holes drilled in the brick outer leaf. The manufacturers and installers claim that the material is water-repellent, and that it cannot allow rainwater to penetrate across the cavity. However, industry researches show that – far from being waterproof – it can soak up water like blotting paper. Some sample properties surveyed by Wall Cavity Claims have been found to hold a startling 243 per cent moisture – ie nearly two and a half times their own weight in water.

Who regulates the Cavity Wall Insulation industry?

Many of our clients who say that, following installation of blown mineral-wool fibre, their inside walls have become damp and mouldy, and their homes have become uninhabitable and unsellable. And in every case the installers and their “guarantee” provider CIGA (the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency) has refused to acknowledge that the cavity wall insulation was the cause of their problems.

In every case the installers and CIGA have insisted that the dampness problems were due to construction faults in the building (even though these are supposed to be identified by the “surveyor” prior to installation) or to “lifestyle condensation” caused by the occupants (even though condensation had not been a problem prior to the CWI), bad property maintenance, or some other unsubstantiated ‘get out response.

However there have been many cases where homeowners have taken their cases to litigation and won the argument. In 2015, the issue was also been discussed in parliament and the whole industry now remains on watch.

Can cavity wall insulation allow rainwater across the cavity?

Despite the constant insistence by manufacturers and installers that cavity wall insulation cannot allow rainwater to cross the cavity, the Building Research Establishment has found that it can. Their findings have been published in a number of BRE publications, notably BRE Good Building Guide 44: part 2: “Insulating masonry cavity walls – principal risks and guidance” (available from www.brebookshop.com). This states, “There can be an increased risk of rain penetration if a cavity is fully filled with insulation, ie moisture is able to transfer from the outer to the inner leaves resulting in areas of dampness on internal finishes. Rainwater, under certain driving rain conditions, can penetrate the outer leaf of masonry leading to wetting of the cavity insulation, a reduced thermal performance and damage to internal finishes.”

The guidance document contains a table indicating the maximum exposure zones recommended for cavity wall insulation, for different cavity widths and different types of insulation material. There are many variables in this table, and as much as we would like to, this blog is long enough already, so we do not have room to explain them all here. But for the typical British house with face brickwork and 50mm cavities, the maximum recommended exposure is Zone 1 or Zone 2.

As might be expected, Zone 1 is in the east of the country, and Zones 2, 3 and 4 are those progressively further west, with Zone 4 including the west of Scotland, west Wales, Cornwall and parts of Somerset and Dorset. The map describing these exposure zones (the British Standard wind-driven rain index) is reproduced in several BRE publications, including “Good Building Guide 44: Part 2”, “Thermal Insulation: avoiding risks”, and also in British Standard BS8104, and in Building Regulations Approved Document C (which can be downloaded free from www.planningportal.gov.uk).

The map gives a broad outline of those areas most likely to be affected by wind- driven rain (which is pretty much common sense anyway). But local conditions are also important; an exposed west-facing wall on high ground in London will possibly receive more rain than a sheltered wall in Cornwall (eg a house on an estate, close to other houses, which take the brunt of the prevailing weather). Many of the complaints we receive about dampness caused by cavity wall insulation have been from Exposure Zones 3 and 4, but we have also had complaints from London, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire – all firmly in Exposure Zone 1, so, that goes to show there’s no rules here.

What percentage of properties with cavity wall insulation experience dampness problems?

There are no statistics about this as yet, because no proper research has been done. The manufacturers, installers, CIGA and HM Govt (through their quango the Energy Saving Trust) all now seem to acknowledge that cavity wall insulation can cause dampness problems, but the scale and how to deal has yet to be organised. We suspect that the problem is fairly widespread, however, and under-reported, for several reasons:

  1. A lot of people haven’t yet made the link between Cavity Wall Insulation and damp and mould issues, and every time we mention it, we receive enquiries from consumers complaining that their homes have become damp following cavity wall insulation. In most cases, they have not previously reported the problem to anyone else. Where they have previously complained to the installers or the funding authority (either their local authority, energy provider, Help the Aged or the Government’s Warm Front scheme) they have been given the line that the cavity insulation cannot possibly have caused their dampness problems.
  2. Many consumerscomplain that, following cavity wall insulation, they have suddenly started to experience “increased condensation”. They often put this down to a decrease in the “breathability” of their walls (or to the blocking-up of airbricks by the CWI installers – a surprisingly common occurrence), and compensate by opening windows to dry their homes out. They do not realise that the source of the extra water running down their windows and dripping from their ceilings is rainwater penetrating via the cavity wall insulation, and so have not reported it to anyone.
  3. People who have not noticed visible dampness problems in their homes have nevertheless sometimes not experienced the expected savings in their fuel costs following CWI. In some cases, their fuel bills have actually got higher following cavity wall insulation. Others have reported that, whilst not experiencing obvious dampness problems, their homes seem to have become noticeably colder following CWI. This is because blown mineral-wool fibre has to become only slightly damp (around one per cent by volume) to lose all of its insulation properties. Any damper than this, and it will actually start to draw heat out of the house, as damp insulation is worse than no insulation at all, in the same way that a damp vest will make you colder than wearing no vest.
  4. Infra-red imaging companies have surveyed 250,000 properties across the UK and found that one-third of homes are well insulated, one-third have no insulation at all, and one-third have damp, slumping or missing insulation. The third with no insulation at all will include all the solid-walled Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian houses. The other two-thirds will be predominantly cavity-walled properties, and these statistics indicate that HALF of these are likely to have faulty insulation. CIGA itself has issued six million guarantees, so if these stats and findings hold true, this would indicate that some three million UK homes have current or potential CWI problems.

Problems with gaps in the insulation, or only some walls being insulated

It should be added that even where it does not transmit rainwater across the cavity, CWI can still create dampness problems through increased condensation. Research has shown that 40 percent of houses whose cavity walls have been filled with blown mineral fibre suffer from gaps in the insulation, and it is these voids which cause condensation and black mould on the walls inside. Because, in a house which has been only partially insulated, the temperature still rises, and with it, the humidity – the amount of water vapour held in the air. And any remaining cold spots will therefore experience more condensation than before. Common areas for condensation and black mould growth are near ground level, between windows, and at ceiling level in upstairs bedrooms.

The insulation installers are supposed to do a thorough survey of the cavity, and proceed only if the wall meets strict British Standards. In practice, hardly any cavity walls meet these standards, as they all have unfilled mortar joints, debris dropped down the cavity, and wall-ties covered with mortar droppings. But the installers pressed on regardless, and these imperfections and obstructions catch the insulation and stop it from filling the cavity evenly.

Another problem is insulation sinking to the bottom of the cavity, leaving cold areas at the top of the house or below windows, ripe for mould growth. Insiders say this is often due to insufficient fibre being used – a common problem with contractors employed on bulk contracts claiming the government subsidy, but who are insulating up to five houses per day at a price of only £100 each, when a good professional job should take a whole day, and cost at least £500. (If you have had blown fibre cavity insulation, and you suspect that it has settled, leaving gaps, then you can check for this by drilling holes near the top of the bedroom walls and inserting a fishing weight on a piece of string.)(There’s an easier and more professional FREE service we will tell you about soon).

Even when a cavity has been properly filled with mineral-wool fibre, the material may well still break down and collapse over time. The fibres themselves become brittle and the material simply compacts under its own weight. How long does this take? – nobody knows, because the problem has never been independently researched. We suspect it happens much more quickly than most people realise – perhaps within five to ten years, leaving a massive issue which is just coming to light in these years.

Are other materials better than blown mineral-wool fibre?

There are two other materials commonly used for cavity wall insulation – bonded polystyrene beads, and foam. If properly installed, these materials should theoretically be superior to mineral-wool fibre, as they are inherently waterproof. Neither material is used as widely as mineral-wool fibre because of cost. It can take two or three days to inject a house with either of these materials, and the cost is likely to be several hundred pounds, so they are not favoured by the government-funded schemes (which budget on around £100 per house for mineral-wool fibre). Neither material is without its problems, however, but a much lower number of complaints come from those who’s cavity was filled with bonded polystyrene beads and the property corrected vented and brushed off.

Bonded polystyrene bead insulation has been reported to transmit rainwater across cavities. Although the individual polystyrene beads themselves are waterproof, if the cavity filling is incomplete, it can leave voids which are able to fill with water, and depending on the configuration of the voids, these can channel water across the cavity, instead of

Dripping straight down as advertised. Again, no rule of thumb seems to apply and each property can be affected differently

Dampness caused by Poly bead cavity insulation” (Photo Elaine Salveta)

The main complaints with bonded polystyrene beadsis that the bonding can be insufficient, allowing the beads to “escape”. Some readers have reported that when carrying out building alterations involving cutting into insulated walls, the beads have sometimes poured out of the wall. Others have reported beads escaping through airbricks, or blowing out of the top of the cavities into loft spaces, or even out through soffit vents into the gutters. There was an acknowledged problem with one particular brand of bonded polystyrene bead insulation widely used in the 1990s, which was put down to poor site supervision of the process – the adhesive has to be mixed with the poly beads immediately before they are injected into the wall – and this is said to have now been rectified. But any process that relies on on-site mixing will obviously always be prone to human error. Also, as with all modern plastics and adhesives, the technology has only been around for a relatively short time, and it is not known how well the material will age.

As we see on many houses showing damp problems after having cavity wall insulation installed with beads, contractors merely sealed the air vents with nothing more than silicone to prevent the beads leaking, which in turn stops your property ‘breathing’. If bits of damp did enter your cavity, and your air vents were sufficient, in the summer weather especially, the walls would heat, the damp would warm and vents would allow condensation to escape. Where the air vents are blocked, the damp is in and stays in, and just gets worse!

Where low vents are blocked, this can also cause damp to affect floors and bring a  whole host of serious issues.

Ant infestation in Poly bead cavity insulation.

It has to be mixed on-site prior to injection, and also has an uncertain longevity. All foam materials become brittle and shrink with age. This is the reason why old fridges and freezers become less efficient, for example, as they are lined with foam insulation which gradually disintegrates.

Builders and DIYers have reported cutting into cavity walls filled with foam and finding nothing more than a layer of brown dust at the bottom.

We have also received complaints of cracking damage – mainly to internal wall surfaces – following foam cavity wall insulation which, if proven, might possibly be due to the expansive force of the foam as it cures. If any readers have had similar experiences please contact us with details.

Some years ago there were concerns that urea formaldehyde foam cavity wall insulation might accelerate corrosion in galvanised steel wall ties, following several reported incidents of wall tie failure. Investigation by the Building Research Establishment failed to find definitive evidence that this was the case, although one particular type of wall tie (thin galvanised “butterfly” ties with a green coating) were advised to be possibly at risk, pending further investigation.

But it is important to realise that any type of iron or steel cavity wall tie is likely to have its life shortened following any type of cavity wall insulation. This is because the insulation – by definition – keeps the warmth on the room side of the wall (the inner leaf), therefore making the cavity itself, and the outer leaf, cooler. So warm moist air from inside the house will find its way through the wall, and condense out on the cooler wall ties, both in the cavity and where they are embedded in the mortar of the outer leaf. Where the cavity insulation is itself wet, then clearly it will be holding moisture in close contact with the wall ties, and hence accelerate their corrosion.

Wall tie corrosion

Wall ties are vital for the structural integrity of a cavity wall, as they hold the inner and outer leaves of masonry together. Being made of iron or steel, they will inevitably rust eventually, but in dry conditions they should last for many years. When persistently damp, however, they can corrode much quicker, and replacing them is a costly and time-consuming process, involving cutting out dozens of individual bricks from the outer leaf. Replacing corroded wall ties becomes much more difficult in a building with cavity wall insulation, as the insulation itself has to be removed around each tie, and then replaced afterwards.

Anyone thinking of having cavity wall insulation installed should first have the condition of their home’s wall ties assessed using the method described in BRE Digest 401, which specifies that two bricks should be removed on each elevation (at high and low levels) and tested for corrosion. Inspecting ties by drilling a hole in the outer leaf and looking through a boroscope is not a satisfactory way of assessing their condition, as the most serious corrosion is likely to be where the ties are embedded in the mortar. Wall tie corrosion is a growing problem, and mortgage valuation surveyors are increasingly recommending that wall ties should be inspected as a condition of a mortgage advance. It is likely that the widespread presence of retro-fill CWI will increase surveyors’ alertness to the possibility of wall tie corrosion, and might therefore create delays when homes with cavity wall insulation are put on the market. Homes most at risk of wall tie corrosion are those built with wrought-iron “fish-tail” ties prior to 1920, and those built with galvanised steel “butterfly” ties between 1964 and 1981. Any house about to have its cavity walls insulated is supposed to be inspected and assessed for suitability by “a trained surveyor” (ie a salesman for the insulation installers), but we have never come across a case where the wall ties have been assessed using the correct method. In most cases the “surveyor” simply drills a hole in the outer leaf and measures the width of the cavity.

We have also recently heard of a case where a mortgage valuation surveyor has recommended refusal of a mortgage application on a house with retro-fit cavity wall insulation – the reason given being enhanced probability of wall-tie corrosion. This could lead to more complicated legal issues when selling or buying a hosue.

Conclusion

There are many people who have had cavity wall insulation installed, who have experienced no problems with internal dampness or wall tie corrosion, and have experienced increased levels of comfort and lower fuel bills. Unfortunately there are also a lot of people who have suffered serious problems, and who have found it very difficult – or impossible – to get these problems recognised and rectified.

The cavity insulation industry, and government agencies, do themselves no favours by pretending that these problems do not exist, as now hundreds of cases are reported each week. My own opinion is that injecting insulation into an existing cavity wall is a bad idea, with the potential to create problems whose rectification costs will far outweigh any savings in fuel costs, or corresponding environmental benefits. The best way to add thermal insulation to the walls of an existing home is on the outside or the inside, where the installation can be carried out under controlled site conditions, and any subsequent defects easily spotted and rectified. Installing insulation in an existing cavity wall by drilling holes in the outer leaf and squirting something in – in the hope that everything will be alright, even though you can’t see it – creates possibilities for a range of problems.

HELP

If you have been affected by cavity wall insulation problems – you can get help from a specialist claims management company and solicitor who like Wall Cavity Claims, offer a free, no obligation Cavity Inspection Survey and will collect evidence and have it assessed by a specialist solicitor. If the solicitor agrees there is a fault present they will act on your behalf on a No Win No Fee agreement.

Many people think that any claim would go to CIGA, who issues the 25 year guarantee, but this isn’t the case. In most cases, the claim is brought against the contractor who undertook the installation, and who would have (or should have) an effective professional insurance policy in place, which insures the consumer. There are hundreds of contractor firms and quite worryingly, some of these have now stopped trading and insurers cannot be located and so the problem is left ‘high and dry’ with the house owner currently, so it’s important to act fast and act today. There’s nothing guaranteed fully, so take action as quickly as possible.

Keeping your house warm

Keeping your house warm

Heat energy is transferred from homes by conduction through the walls, floor, roof and windows. It is also transferred from homes by convection. For example, cold air can enter the house through gaps in doors and windows, and convection currents can transfer heat energy in the loft to the roof tiles. Heat energy also leaves the house by radiation through the walls, roof and windows.

Heat in your home is lost through:

  • Having no insulation in your loft, to avoid losing heat from your loft have it lined with insulation. This is a relatively easy process and not too expensive, and can reduce the heat loss through your roof space by almost 40%
  • Heat escapes out of windows.It is without doubt best to have double glazed windows, and also have good quality curtains up to keep heat in.
  • Having gaps around your doors and windows will let heat escape easily from your home. Fitting of adhesive draught excluders is again relatively easy and cheap to do and will seal the main part or all of the gaps.
  • Having cavity wall insulation filled in all your walls. Ensure your house is suitable for cavity wall insulation and that a proper pre-survey inspection is done and any remedial work is carried out to problematic areas prior to the installation.
  • Having carpet fitted on the floors also helps keep the heat in. Wherever possible, always use a quality underlay which will insulate at the same time as being comfortable.

Red areas on this thermal image show where the heat is most concentrated to escape from inside to the cold of the outside.

If you’ve had Cavity Wall Insulation fitted in the last 15 years, your walls could be having damp issues which may be showing signs such as damp and mould, and a lot of homes will not be so obvious that faults are lurking.

Visit www.wallcavityclaims.co.uk  today and find out more.

Finlock Gutters and Cavity Wall Insulation

Finlock gutters are also known as concrete gutters, which are common with houses that have had cavity wall insulation installed. Finlock gutters were added on to new build properties is the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Finlock gutters are made of concrete blocks which can range from 8 inches to 12 inches and are joined together using mortar.

Finlock gutters were designed to be maintenance free, however they are now starting to deteriorate due to the concrete being an unsuitable material for guttering.

Where any issues start with this type of guttering, on top of an already problematic cavity wall installation, the issues may appear with much more speed.

Main problems with finlock gutters are:

  • Interior damp, which can lead to mould
  • External or internal leaks
  • External mould patches
  • Water not flowing though the gutters properly
  • Gutters starting to fall apart.

The only way to solve any of these problems happening is by having the finlock gutters taken away and replaced with a more suitable guttering system.

If you’ve got problems with mould, damp, mildew, condensation, and have Finlock gutters, act sooner rather than later. Call Wall Cavity Claims today on Freephone 0800-8-654321

The Rise of Cavity Wall Insulation Claims

Claimants are now turning their attention to wall cavity insulation claims. We have noticed increased activity in this area with firms offering on ‘no win, no fee’ funding arrangements.

It is thought that over 9 million homes have undergone retro-fit cavity wall insulation. It was marketed as a quick and simple solution to make homes more energy efficient and the government set targets to encourage energy suppliers to insulate as many properties as possible. Ofgem can even fine an energy supplier for failing to meet those targets.

However, it has come to light that incorrectly installed or unsuitable cavity wall insulation can cause a whole host of problems, including damp, condensation, property damage and health problems such as asthma and breathing problems. Issues arising from the cavity wall insulation are not immediately apparent and can often take a few years to fully materialise.

Cavity wall insulation was debated at length in parliament, John Denham MP highlighted what he referred to as “unacceptable practices” in the cavity wall insulation industry and called for “an honest appraisal of the technology; where it works and where it does not and effective redress of victims”.

John Denham MP has urged the minister for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, to carry out a full review of how the industry and CIGA operate to establish a genuinely independent oversight of the compensation arrangements. Furthermore, he called for an independent assessment of properties at least one or two years after installation to establish the true scale of dampness caused by cavity wall insulation.

Wall Cavity Claims comment

In due course, we anticipate an influx of cavity wall insulation based litigation. Experts predict that cavity wall compensation could rival PPI as the next big trend. Currently, claimants are largely marketing their services to private householders but it is only a matter of time before they inevitably turn to the social arena. We therefore need to be alert and ready for such claims. If a claim arises it should be investigated quickly. At Wall Cavity Claims, we will act promptly and assist consumers who have had insulation wrongly installed and are suffering problems.

It is important to get a wall cavity inspection surveyor to visit your property and undertake a physical survey and record the evidence if faults do exist.

Visit Wall Cavity Claims website, Facebook Page, or call Freephone 0800-8-654321

Major Issues with Cavity Wall Insulation in Non-Traditionally Constructed Homes

Major Issues with Cavity Wall Insulationin Non-Traditionally Constructed Homes

As the lid is slowly coming off the failed but seemingly well intentioned Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation schemes to provide cavity wall insulation in Britain’s housing stock, the fall out and problems unfold on a daily basis. Every day, more and more people are making the link between having cavity wall insulation and the persistent damp issues in their home after the installation.

There really is only one answer to this growing epidemic in the UK! The failed and now defective insulation must be extracted and a full cavity extraction carried out.

What does this really mean for those who have been sold the benefit of subsidised cavity wall insulation?

In recent times it has come to light that any construction type, other than traditional construction should not under any circumstances have full fill cavity wall insulation installed.

So, what is traditional construction you ask. Let us explain.

The term ‘traditional build’ is usually used to describe a home where the internal load bearing leaf is masonry construction and tied with wall ties to an outer leaf of either block or brick.

Although there are many modern methods of construction taking building practices into the future, traditional brick and block methods still remain one of the most widely used build types in the UK and are the only suitable forms of construction to receive cavity wall insulation.

The next question is, what if you live in a non-traditional construction and have had cavity wall insulation?

The vast majority of us do not have a building or construction background. It’s on this basis that many of our clients come to Cavity Wall Doctor and ask us to identify the type of construction of their home and determine if the house was suitable to receive cavity wall insulation in the first place and find out more about cavity wall extraction and cavity clearance.

Wall Cavity Claims are innovators in providing compliant surveying services to help consumers with independent witness reports for their damp, condensation and cavity wall problems. We work with a panel of specialist Solicitors who specialise in cavity claims, cost recovery, repair and compensation cases.

It’s free to find out if you have grounds for a case, so leave us your contact details and a member of the team will contact you to discuss your case.

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

Damaged cavity wall insulation is costing you more than you think

So not only will damaged cavity wall insulation cause (and this list is not exhaustive)Increased risk of chest infections and asthma, eczema, allergies weakened immune system (especially in high risk groups i.e. the old and the young)

Here’s a list of some of the issues that arise from damaged cavity wall insulation:

  • Damage to the inside walls / plastering
  • Damage to the inside wood work
  • Damage to clothes and bedding
  • Damage to furniture
  • Damage to carpets
  • Damage to joists and floorboards (can cause rotting)
  • Damage to wall ties

But also, it’s not really doing the job it was supposed to do… it’s a fact that wet insulation will not have the u-values (heat retention) that it would when dry. So if your ignoring all the signs that you have damaged cavity wall insulation and continue to ignore the fact that it needs taking out then be prepared to spend more money on re-decorating, internal plastering, internal wood work, furniture, carpets.  And look forward to the chesty coughs, bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, recurrent respiratory infections, eczema, allergies, weakened immune system, fatigue, rhinitis, itchy eyes, joint pain and the list goes on…

Also, your CIGA guarantee is valid for 25 years, but finding a solicitor to represent your matter can be affected by when it was installed, many solicitors currently only accepting claims where the installation was done less than 15 years ago.

If you have or you think you have damp, condensation and or mould problems at home, we want to hear from you.

Had shocking discovery’s like this in your home?

Have you seen patches like this at home?

Wall Cavity Claims can help you with a free, no obligation cavity inspection surveyor, who will check all areas of your home, internal, external and most importantly your cavity walls and what is happening there which we cannot see without specialist tools and industry knowledge.

If the cavity inspection surveyor does find faults, these can be reviewed by a specialist panel solicitor who will represent your claim on a full No Win No Fee service.

Start your enquiry today and let the experts help you protect your house, your family, your home.

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

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Effects of Climate Change

Effects of Climate Change

Since the early 1990’s the effects of climate change on cavity walls has been predicted that we will experience periods of considerably more adverse weather and increased periods of heavy rainfall than we had been used to. This has now become a much talked about point in recent years and well reported that weather conditions are becoming increasingly worse from one year to the next.

Properties within the blue areas should never have had the cavity walls filled using wool products. This is now causing a big problem for local authorities, housing associations and private home owners. Bead insulation can allow moisture to travel downwards and out of the insulation and wall cavity if it is installed correctly.

It’s only now, years later that the relationship between having cavity wall insulation in high exposure zone is being linked to damp, mould and health problems across the UK.

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Rainfall clearly shown in reports for the UK, now shows more of the country to be in high exposure zones, typically wind-driven rain, where the amount of rain is far greater than previously reported or expected.

Buildings in these areas are now facing the growing issues of more driving rain that we have never experienced before. This has led to failure of insulation materials used, due to the wrong product being installed, the incorrect installation or simply the product was used when it should not have been, and causing wide spread damp, mould and health problems.

THE EFFECTS OF INCREASED RAINFALL ON CAVITY WALL’S

 

A further point to the failure of cavity wall insulation is due to buildings not being correctly maintained and modern day weather having an ongoing degradation to buildings, leading to the breakdown and failure of the cavity wall insulation.

The major issues buildings are now facing stem from the practices detailed above, along with dated insulation techniques that has led to water penetration causing the insulation to become saturated. This breaks down the fabric and purpose of the insulation leading to the thermal properties and function becoming defective. The simple fact is water penetrates the outer wall, seeps into the insulation and through to the inner walls of our homes.

Property’s suffering from problems of damp, mould, condensation and water ingress can be remedied by completely removing the old defective insulation material and obstructions of rubble and debris and installing the correct insulation product for the property, such as External / Internal Wall Insulation.

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Decorating over damp and mould patches

And so it begins… the decorating ritual.

It’s that time of year again where the nights draw in even quicker and you start to spend more and more time in your home.  It’s at this time of year we start to look around and start thinking about those little jobs that need doing we’ve been putting off all summer. Indeed, because of the warmer weather over summer, this can help ‘hide’ serious matters until the cold and wet autumn and winter draw in.

Christmas is fast approaching and we start to think about having our homes in tip top shape ready for the annual visits from friends and family. Is it time to redecorate, redo the living room or even spruce up the hallway with a quick lick of paint?

We’re guessing this is a yearly occurrence for many people living in homes that have received the free energy company grants for insulation.  As many of our clients have told us, it’s when the autumn comes the colour charts come out and the trips to the DIY stores start. It’s the beginning of the annual process of dealing with the damp and mould that is an after effect of having cavity wall insulation. A good clean will sort it out, right?

Many of our clients have being living with these unwanted issues when the weather turns and going through the motions of buying the damp paints, treating mould patches with the sprays that just don’t seem to keep the mould at bay. It’s no surprise that this starts in the autumn every year. Unfortunately, the paints and sprays are only masking these unwelcome effects in our homes, you can persevere with this ritual, hiding the issues or you can deal with the issue head on, once and for all and take back your home, making it the happy place you always wanted and expected it to be.

At Wall Cavity Claims, we specialise in seeking out the root cause of these damp and mould problems and providing you with the answers if the cause is anything attributed to the cavity wall insulation.

If you or someone you know are dealing with these symptoms, take a few moments to send your contact details to us and a member of the team will contact you to arrange a surveyor visit to discuss how to take back your home and remove these problems once and for all.

Visit the website at www.wallcavityclaims.co.uk or give us a call free on 0800-8-654321

 

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