Insulation offers considerable advantages within both domestic and commercial properties, but it sometimes needs to be removed for a variety of reasons. In this article, we carry out a comprehensive examination of insulation, its uses and why it might need removal.
Heat loss is can be particularly problematic, whether in household, office, warehouse or factory settings. Within domestic households, the loss of heat from the home can lead to discomfort, with this being a more evident issue during the winter months and other cold spells. But the issue goes far beyond the discomfort that comes from struggling to heat a property.
If your own home is poorly insulated, then one of the issues that you will face is that you will be heating air will may subsequently then be lost. That loss of heat might occur as a result of air movement around windows, ceilings, doors and walls. Any lost warmer air comes at a financial cost, given that you will have paid to heat that air in the first place.
So we can see that a lack of proper insulation can expose issues, both in terms of discomfort and in financial terms. But the problems don’t stop there: this is a problem that may well be a contributory factor towards climate change. Heating your home will often rely on the burning of fossil fuels, whether locally or a power station. The lack of decent insulation may mean that more coal, oil and natural gas is being used than would otherwise be required. This helps to explain why consecutive UK governments have sought to offer assistance to those looking to make improvements in this area.
Where a building might be insulated
There are various parts of a building that might be insulated and we’ll cover each in turn:
As we all learn at school: hot air rises. What this means is that, as air is heated within a property, it will have a propensity to rise up, leaving your house via the loft and then the roof. This can cause a serious loss of heat, helping to explain why loft insulation is regarded by many as a “must have” purchase within the home.
There are many different types of loft insulation, with the most common being as follows:
Possibly the most common form of loft insulation seen in the UK at present, blanket insulation is provided in rolls, meaning that it can be easily installed, offering great flexibility. Cheaply available from many DIY stores, blanket insulation has been popular with home owners for some years.
At various points, local authorities and central government have also made grants available. In some cases, this has meant that home owners have actually found that discounted rates have made it cheaper to get the insulation installed by professionals, rather than doing it themselves.
One of the key drawbacks associated with this type of insulation is that people report that it tends to irritate the skin. This can make installation uncomfortable, meaning that additional care needs to be taken. Although non-irritant alternatives are available, including those made from sheep’s wool, these tend to be more expensive, meaning that there is a trade off in place.
In cases where it’s necessary to remove blanket insulation, due to problems, professional extraction companies have the expertise to carry out the job in a safe manner.
Made from a range of materials, including cork and recycled paper, this type of insulation is provided in bags. In order to install, the householder would typically simply empty the bag out into the appropriate space, allowing the installation to rest on top of the existing loft surface.
Since you are simply required to tip out the bag, this can be an extremely simple form of insulation to install. It’s typically used in areas that are otherwise hard to reach, or for topping up, as an addition to existing insulation. Depending upon the type of material being used, it’s usually necessary to wear safety clothing, which does allow for DIY installation. One downside that is occasionally reported is that it doesn’t stay in place particularly well when conditions are extremely draughty.
Sheet insulation is most typically used on the inside of sloping roofs, as well as on loft floors. These boards provide impressive levels of insulating value, making them an increasingly popular choice.
There are downsides to their use, including that some home owners find them more difficult to fit, particularly when it’s necessary to cut them to avoid existing obstacles within the loft space. They also tend to be a more expensive solution, which reflects their effectiveness.
Blown fibre insulation
Have you ever wondered about those insulation professionals who arrive at a property with a large amount of pipework? It’s likely that they are using a system to blow the insulating material into existing gaps within the loft space.
As you might well imagine, this is very much a job for the professionals, meaning that installation costs can be relatively high. It’s perfect for those who have spaces that are difficult to reach, although not great for use in more draughty conditions. We’ll talk some more about the removal of this insulation, should that be required, later in the article.
Cavity wall insulation
It’s estimated that around 30% of all heat loss within a property may occur via the walls. Assuming that your home is relatively modern (being built since the 1920s), there’s a good chance that there is a cavity between the inner and outer brickwork on your external walls. Cavity wall insulation involves filling that cavity.
In order to do this, a professional insulations company would usually inject the insulating material into the cavity from an external position. This isn’t a job that can be done by the home owner: it requires a fully qualified professional.
The insulating material itself may consist of foam, polystyrene or mineral wool. The installation doesn’t usually take very long, requiring holes to be drilled on the outside of your property, which are subsequently filled in. If you’ve moved into a property, then you might have cavity wall insulation in place, without realising that this is the case.
Reasons for removing insulation
In the opening section of this article, we’ve discussed where a building might be insulated. As experts in the removal and replacement of insulation, we’ve seen numerous circumstances where a home owner wishes to see insulating material removed from their home. Let’s take a closer look at the key reasons why this might be the case.
Problems with cavity wall insulation
There are circumstanced where cavity wall insulation can lead to increased damp and even the build-up of mould within your home. This might occur, for example, if the insulating material is very old, or if there was a problem with the original installation.
Moisture might also be driven into your home, if you happen to live in a location that is particularly exposed to rain being driven by the wind. Obvious examples of locations where such conditions can prevail would include coastal areas and those on higher ground.
Problems might also arise if the wall cavity wasn’t clear when the installation took place. The presence of debris within the cavity, for instance, could cause issues with the effectiveness of the material, which may itself lead to problems.
Installation problems don’t stop there: some properties simply aren’t suitable for cavity wall insulation, which means that no end of issues could occur from an unsuitable installation exercise. Damaged walls, which even have been caused by external work on the home, could also be a cause of problems.
Finally, on the subject of issues associated with cavity wall insulation, it’s worth remembering that building work and other home renovation projects could, in some circumstances, have led to debris and blockages forming within the cavity.
While cavity wall insulation offers a fantastic solution in most cases, there are these circumstances when the situation can go awry, leading to the need to remove insulating materials. We’ll talk more about precisely how we achieve that in the final section of this article.
Why would you remove loft insulation?
In the case of loft insulation, you may wonder what circumstances might lead to its removal. Perhaps the most common is when water has entered the insulating material. Even after the material is dried out, it’s lightly that the effectiveness of the insulation will have been seriously reduced.
Essentially, water tends to have the effect of compressing the existing insulation. It goes without saying, however, that prior to removing and replacing the insulation, it’s critical that you should identify the original cause of the water problem, so that you don’t end up with a repeat of the same issue in the future.
Water access isn’t the only cause of issues with loft insulation. The presence of pests, such as mice or wasps, can also have a significant, negative impact. If the pest infestation is considerable, then insulation can be undermined beyond the point of repair. In these instances, the first priority is to ensure that your unwanted visitors are removed by a suitably trained professional. Once you’ve done so, you’ll want examine the integrity of your insulating materials.
Another cause of loft insulation problems occurs when work is carried out on a property. Sometimes, unfortunately, other trades people may disturb existing insulation. This needn’t be a huge problem, as long as the disruption is fairly minor in its minor. But when the damage is more significant, it’s often more cost-effective to simply remove and replace the material, rather than attempting to carry out a repair.
How do we remove insulation?
We’ve covered the different types of insulation that are typically found in properties, together with situations that might create a need for insulation to be removed. But how do we handle the actual removal process?
Here at Extract Insulation, we have years of experience in this area. As you might imagine, having considered the different methods of insulating and the problems that can occur, a range of solutions are called for when it comes to undertaking removal. Experienced professionals are required to get the job done in the most effective manner.
As a starting point, we always begin by examining precisely what the situation is. It’s of critical importance that we should be able to identify the type of insulation that’s in place and the extent of the problem to be faced. There may be occasions when it’s not appropriate to carry out a full-scale removal.
Together with examining what is to be removed, we’re also able to assist with the replacement of insulating materials. This is a core part of our role, given the advantages of having proper insulation in place. In order to keep energy bills down, avoid environmental damage and ensure your own comfort, we’ll discuss the best options within your own circumstances.
Cavity wall insulation removal
Our approach to cavity wall insulation removal involves using the latest technology, machinery and highly trained staff. As you might imagine, removal of this type of insulation requires both skill and experience.
Having ascertained that there is a problem that requires the removal of the insulating removal, we begin by taking a brick out of the base of the property. When doing so, we’ll well aware of the need to return the property to its original look. To achieve this, we use a special piece of equipment (known as an arbortech allsaw), which allows us to remove an entire brick, without damaging it. When we’ve completed the job, this means that the home owner won’t even notice any external evidence that work has been undertaken.
We then drill out the holes that were originally used to put the cavity wall insulation in place, albeit we use a small drill hole than would have been used originally.
So how do we actually persuade the insulating material to use the premises? In essence, we use an industrial vacuum, with compressed air pushing the material towards the vacuum. We do this one level at a time, bagging the collected material on site. When it comes to disposing of the insulating material, we have a waste carrier’s licence. That’s an important consideration because home owners can actually be liable, in cases where waste from their homes has not been disposed of in the proper manner. For peace of mind, it makes sense to use professional experts.
Once we believe that all insulation has been properly removed, we use a special tool to take a look at the cavity. This device, known as a boroscope, can even be hooked up to a smartphone, allowing us to see images and videos of what the cavity looks like. Flues, chimneys and gas vents are checked by a reputable, fully qualified expert. Just as you would expect, we take every step of the process seriously.
With all of the old material removed, we can then go about replacing your cavity wall insulation.
Removing loft insulation
The method that we use to remove loft insulation depends very much on the type of materials that have been used in the first place. But whatever the conditions that we find, we have a comprehensive process that’s designed to ensure that removal is carried out in the most efficient, safe and cost-effective manner.
Our survey will immediately establish what needs to be removed and we’ll carry out a structured removal. Throughout the process, members of our team will wear protective gear and will make use of the latest machinery to ensure safe removal. We’ll also protect the other parts of your home.
Once waste material has been gathered, it’s absolutely vital that it should be disposed of in an appropriate manner. Unfortunately, some contractors resort to fly tipping, rather than adhering to the legal requirements. As a reputable business of long-standing, we dispose of all waste in a safe manner, offering peace of mind for all of our customers.
The team at Extract Insulation have years of experience, as we hope this article demonstrates. There isn’t much in the world of insulation that we don’t know about!
We appreciate the importance of maintaining a properly insulated property. If you do have a situation where it’s necessary for existing insulation to be removed, then our focus is always on completing the job in a safe and effective manner, while keeping costs low. Once the insulation has been safely removed, we then move on to the next part of the job: replacing the old material with new material that will help to ensure that heat loss from your property is kept to a minimum.
We’re happy to advise on all elements of replacement work, including offering information on the latest home owner grants that may be available. Once again, this reflects our desire to keep your costs low. We appreciate that money may be tight and that it’s important for you to get the best deal.
When insulation works well, it’s immensely beneficial. When problems are encountered, we deal with them in a positive, professional way. We look forward to learning more about your own requirements.