Building type and age is an important factor in the decision to improve the insulation levels. Timber framed or modular houses will almost certainly have insulation materials built in. Conventional brick and stone built houses built 1990 onwards will have some level of wall insulation to retain the heat.
If your house is pre-1990 it may be that your home does not have any wall insulation. Typical house construction methods in the UK feature solid or cavity walls.
To be considered suitable for cavity wall insulation it must meet certain criteria:
- All external walls must be unfilled cavity walls
- Your property must be of brick or stone construction.
- The cavity should be at least 50mm wide, and clear of debris
- The elevations to be insulated should not be exposed to driving wind and rain.
- The masonry or brickwork and pointing of your property is in good order.
Due to poor training and installation practice, some of these requirements were ignored.
If you have had cavity wall insulation carried out and you have noticed signs of damp inside the treated walls – what should you do?
A number of issues can be caused by the faulty installation of the insulation material or the unsuitability of the property for the process.
Typical signs of damp in a building include:
- Wallpaper discoloured or peeling
- Signs of mould, fungus or mildew on the walls
- Rotting woodwork
- Damp patchy walls
- Condensation on walls
- Cold rooms where you are constantly heating
If, after you have had cavity wall insulation done, you notice signs of damp, black mould or musty odours, your first port of call should be the company who did the installation, to establish if there is a problem and a solution. They can establish if anything is wrong with the aid of a boroscope test. Do not be fobbed off at this stage by generalisations that it will cure itself in time. It is incumbent on them to reassess your property to verify that the cavity wall installation is not the cause of your damp problems.
Please be aware that damp in a property can have many causes such as lack of ventilation, condensation, rising damp, guttering problems and blocked air bricks. A professional contractor with the aid of a protimeter type product will be able to isolate the cause and confirm if it is caused by your cavity wall insulation or some other cause. If the problem is linked to the cavity wall insulation, they should look at removal as part of their remedial process.
If, as is often the case in this industry, the installer has ceased trading or refuses to help then contact the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA) to establish whether you have a CIGA Guarantee. The Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA) is the organisation whose remit is to safeguard the consumers if something goes wrong with the installation and the installer does not accept any responsibility. Unfortunately, both the CIGA and the installers have been found guilty of suggesting that damp in properties is down to environmental factors rather that a failure of the cavity wall insulation.
You need to be able to verify that a guarantee exists and CIGA should be your first point of contact, this you can do online. If there is no guarantee, you still have options, try to find your original paperwork, many companies used an IBG (insurance backed guarantee) to provide a level of cover.
Remember that the guarantee may well only cover you for remedial work such as extracting the failed insulation. Any decoration or building work that may need doing is unlikely to be covered. Similarly, if you have developed any health conditions through living in a damp cold home – this will not be covered.