Homeowners have been encouraged to insulate their homes for over a decade now as a shift towards energy efficiency has become ever more important. As with any work carried out in a home the quality of insulation installation will have varied from house to house. In some cases installations have had a substandard job.
Also the standard insulation opportunities in homes that have cavity walls have been taken up leaving a focus on more older and complex properties; this presents new challenges that some insulation installers may have limited experience in overcoming.
With millions of refurbishments for insulation having the go ahead many have been successful however, poor workmanship and the complexities of some properties has meant that problems have occurred with some installation. Most of the problems associated with poor insulation installation are damp issues.
Representatives from the insulation industry have learned from previous mistakes made in the manufacturing and installation process of home insulation and have, as a direct consequence, set up certification bodies such as SWIGA to oversee and improve the certification process and improve the installation process.
The number of insulated homes with damp related problems is small in comparison to the successful installations but because of the scale of the work that had been carried out over the years there are still a number of properties that will be experiencing problems with their installation. If you have or live in a property that has experienced these problems due to a poor installation, what can you do about it?
See if you can work out the cause of the damp
If problems with damp start after you install cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation or floor insulation there are four likely possibilities:
- There may be a new damp problem that has occurred around the same time as the insulation but is not actually related to the insulation
- The property may have not been suitable for the insulation installed.
- The installation may have not been carried out correctly.
- The may have been an existing damp problem and the installation of insulation has aggravated this and made it more substantial.
You might not be able to spot the first two but you may be able to check for an existing or new damp problem that is separate to the insulation which will help rule out these issues. Common things to look out for are:
- Damaged or blocked gutters
- Damaged or blocked downpipes
- Missing slates or tiles
- Missing or damaged flashing
- External ground levels that are now higher than the damp proof course
- Failing doors or windows
- Blocked air bricks, or other ventilation issues
- Damaged bricks, pointing or render
- Plumbing leaks
- Excessive moisture production, such as drying clothes indoors
As soon as the problem with any damp is elevated you will want to get a specialist to make sure the insulation is still in working order and will not cause any further issues. You will want to make sure the specialist checks that any water that has built up has the chance to dry out effectively.
If after completing the steps above you still are unable to find an obvious cause for the damp issues and you suspect that it has to do with an installation problem then you need to move onto the next step.
Speak to your installer
Speaking to your installer will be the best course of action as they should be willing to come and check out any problems and do their utmost to work out what the cause of the issue is. If it turns out that the insulation installation was at fault then they could offer a simple fix and do the work under a guarantee.
In some cases it may not run as smoothly; the company may not be in business anymore, especially if the work was carried out a number of years prior to the issue cropping up or they may not be as helpful as one would hope. If you find yourself in this unfortunate position then there are a few ways to get around this.
Check for a guarantee
In a case where bad workmanship has to be rectified and you are unable to liaise with the company that carried it out you may be thinking that a guarantee is useless but that is not the case. In some cases the manufacturer of the insulation will offer a guarantee which will allow you to get help if the installer is untraceable.
The Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA) have been providing 25 year independent guarantees for cavity wall insulation for a number of years and the Solid Wall Insulation Guarantee Agency are now doing the same for solid wall installations. There are also a number of insurance companies that provide independently backed guarantees for various insulation jobs. The full list of providers can be found on Ofgem’s website.
As long as you have the paperwork about the guarantee for the insulation then it should have details of who to contact if a problem arises. If you think you have a guarantee that falls outside of the installer but is independent then try contacting the agencies above to see if they have a record of the guarantee.
Contact the funder
If your home was insulated through a funding scheme such as the ECO obligation or through a local authority scheme then you should try contacting the funder directly to see if they could offer any assistance to solving the problem.
The good news is that, by the end of 2020, the government requires all gas and electricity suppliers to offer customers smart meters. This will help households monitor energy use remotely and keep track of the cost.
By the end of 2020 the government will require all gas and electricity suppliers to offer customers smart meters. This will help homeowners monitor their energy usage remotely and then keep track of the cost. You may also be eligible for a government boiler grant, to find out more about these grants read our full guide on boiler grants in 2020. If your system is old it is worth switching to a newer more efficient model as doing so could save you more than £500 a year.
What is a green home design?
You may be planning on building your own eco-friendly home instead of altering your current property. If this is something you’re interested in, consider the following green design tips:
- Use green materials. These materials are natural, renewable, recyclable and/or durable, with minimal environmental impact. Examples include straw bales and timber.
- Utilise fewer building materials by focusing on efficiency in the design phase.
- Harness renewable energy wherever possible. For example, use solar panels.
- Aid water conservation through rainwater utilisation systems and low-flow plumbing fixtures.
What if you rent your home?
If your home is rented privately or through a council and housing association then first port of call is your landlord and to let them know about any damp problems. It is their responsibility to sort out any damp related issues. If the landlord does not provide any assistance after repeated attempts to make them aware of the issue then contact your local council, even if your rent privately.
On a final note the key to having a positive experience when dealing with any building work and not just insulation work is to be careful about who you hire to carry out the work. Always carry out due diligence and insist on any work having a third party guarantee. Make sure that the installer is signed up to PAS 2030 which is the industry accreditation for installing energy saving initiative on properties. By choosing the right installer you should have a positive experience.
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