Ensuring your property is damp-free before going Green
Last month, the UK Government announced that homeowners or residential landlords in England are eligible to apply for a Green Homes Grant – a contribution towards the cost of installing energy efficient improvements to a home. This could include adding insulation to improve thermal efficiency, or installing low-carbon heating to lower the amount of carbon dioxide a home produces.
While this is a great initiative to help stimulate the economy and create an opportunity for homeowners to do their bit to help tackle climate change at a hugely reduced price, it could also have unintended consequences. Before undertaking any work, it’s essential that property checks and inspections are conducted to ensure these energy saving installations are right for your home.
Why are property checks important?
It is important to check for any underlying damp issues in a property before starting an energy improvement project. Under some circumstances, improvements such as insulation, could upset the moisture balance within your home. This means that all the moisture and humid air that would have previously flowed out of the property will be trapped inside due to a lack of ventilation. This could lead to mould and rot forming, which can damage wall finishes and deteriorate property infrastructure.
The good news is that these checks should not come at an extra cost. The Government has said that additional services to ensure a property is fit to insulate will be funded by the grant. This includes the cost of any inspections and essential repair work relating to dampness and structural defects.
As advocates of this scheme, we want those that wish to take advantage of it to have the best experience possible, and not have to suffer the consequences of unsuitable installations. Here are the services we’d recommend are conducted before proceeding with the Green Homes Grant voucher:
A specialist survey
Be sure to call in accredited surveyors – if a problem is incorrectly diagnosed it could cause further problems down the line. Our Certificated Surveyors in Remedial Treatment (CSRT) will inspect your property and diagnose any issues relating to damp and infrastructure weaknesses.
If signs of damp are identified, it’s important that these are treated and measures are put in place to prevent further issues. There are three main types of damp to look out for; Condensation, Rising Damp and Penetrating damp.
- Condensation: Preventing Condensation requires a change in habits, such as keeping rooms at an even, moderate temperature, using bathroom and kitchen extractor fans, ideally not drying clothes on radiators and using trickle vents or opening windows regularly to increase ventilation. If the issue continues, we can manage and control condensation by using advanced condensation control methods such as installing a heat recovery, or positive input ventilation unit.
- Rising Damp: Rising damp occurs when moisture is drawn upwards through the mortar and masonry of a building by capillary action. Any masonry type can be affected but more porous building materials such as brick and sandstone are most susceptible. The most popular method of treating rising damp is installing a remedial damp proof course (DPC) via the damp proof injection method. In this process qualified Peter Cox technicians will inject remedial damp-proof courses into specifically drilled holes in the affected wall. Once injected the chemical is absorbed by the bricks and creates a water-repellent barrier as it dries.
- Penetrating Damp: Penetrating damp is most often caused by exposure to prevailing winds, which can drive rain into the masonry, and is most pronounced on buildings with solid, rather than cavity walls. The most effective way to protect a property from penetrating damp is to firstly rectify any masonry defects such as gaps around windows, leaking roofs and gutters, and then apply Thermotek, a breathable water repellent cream to the exterior of the property.
A professional survey to ensure your home is suitable your home is suitable
The Green Homes Grant is a fantastic opportunity. However before taking advantage of this offer, it is important to ensure your property is in suitable condition to have energy efficient installations fitted. While damp may not be an issue now, it could be made much worse by insulation, leading to irreversible infrastructure damage. If you’re considering making use of this scheme, book a specialist survey with Peter Cox and our colleagues will be happy to support and help you achieve your green goals.
By Catherine Hill, National Commercial Manager