As you might expect, we have had a large number of queries over the past few weeks about external wall insulation. It was with great sadness that we all witnessed the events at Grenfell Tower, in North West London – our deepest sympathies are with all those involved.
It has become clear that the insulation has been used as an explanation by many news outlets as the biggest cause for this disaster. It is important to note that the exacting cause can only be defined by the professionals investigating this case and many others.
We would like to share some information about external wall insulation and the safety inbuilt into the products. Here at City Energy, we use exclusively BBA approved external wall insulation products to assure our customers of their longevity, quality and safety. If you are in any way concerned, just ask one of our team to share these details you.
What is External Wall Insulation?
External wall insulation is in the majority of cases retrofitted to improve the thermal performance of your home while also giving it a face lift. The materials used in external wall insulation are specifically designed to work together and are provided by the same manufacturer as a package deal. These are often referred to as EPS or Elasticised Polystyrene Boards.
While this type of insulation can be quite costly for a number of reasons, it is really a fairly straight forward installation.
- Insulation board is glued to the wall using plaster adhesive.
- Mechanical fixings tie the insulation board to the wall.
- Another layer of cement based plaster is added and a fibreglass mesh is sunk into the plaster while it is still wet.
- A top coat render or brick slip is added to give the desired finish.
What are the rules?
The external wall insulation industry is a heavily regulated industry. Independent bodies such as the British Board of Agrement (BBA) are UKAS approved to independently test and certify external wall insulation systems. This ensures they meet the strict building regulations. It is worth mentioning that the UK’s Health and Safety regulations are among the strictest in the world.
Independent certification of the manufacturers and their internal processes around the system’s design makes the planning stage pretty comprehensive.
In addition to the manufacturers or system designers, companies such as City Energy as an installer must also be certified and tested against a standard for such insulation, called PAS2030.
You can be assured that our installations are monitored and rigorously audited by our own teams, external technical monitoring agents, authorities like Ofgem but also the manufacturers of the products we use.
Finally, it is also worth mentioning that on bigger projects, like a retrofit of multi-storey properties or a number of properties within an area, the system designers will also send their technical teams to provide additional monitoring of installers to make sure we are doing the work as we ought to.
What are the risks?
If there was a fire in your home or near the outside walls, it is expected that the EPS would melt within its plaster enclosure. The mechanical fixings would support and hold the structure of the insulation product in place.
Although after a fire the insulation would need to be stripped and redone, it should not act as a fire accelerator on its own.
As we said at the beginning of this article, there are investigations going on at present with regards to the current safety of external wall insulation systems in the UK.
If you have had external wall insulation installed and are worried, contact your installer and review the documents you received as part of the handover. Discuss your concerns with a professional and we suggest that you don’t make any rash decisions.
If you are considering installing external wall installation, do get in touch with one of our Bright Sparks. You may qualify for grant funding towards the installation of this type of insulation. We are here for you.