“Help! My chickens ate cavity wall insulation!”

22 2016-11

“Help! My chickens ate cavity wall insulation!”

I was contacted by someone last week who was most worried. Usually, when homeowners contact us they are concerned because they have been made aware that the cavity wall insulation they had installed to their property is not up to standard and they are worried about the effect it is having on their home and ultimately the effect it has on the valuation of the home.

I asked the usual questions like ‘When did you have it put in?’, ‘Who installed it?’and then asked about the type of insulation. It was at this point that the telephone conversation took an interesting turn.

The property is in Wales and a large cavity wall insulation company did the installation back in 2014. There was a real push to get homes insulated during this period with jobs being done quickly without any real regard for jobs being done diligently. The insulation company (which I won’t name) sent a group of 3 men to do the installation. There was no paperwork, no information provided either before or after the insulation and they were apparently gone in 1 and a half hours. They said the job was done and they had another 4 to get done that day. The property was a relatively large farm house.

The type of insulation put in was the polystyrene beading. Now to get this right, the right amount of binding agent or adhesive has to be used. If it isn’t then the beads will not stick together. It isn’t rocket science – is it?

The homeowner noticed immediately that there was a Hansel and Gretel trail of beading left behind. These beads are usually tiny and to track them all down is a nightmare. As the homeowner had chickens, she was naturally worried and so called the company back and they said they would pop back over to review the installation. They never did and with the homeowner being worried about the chickens, she used her trusty vacuum to catch as many as she could.

Fast forward to 2016 and the homeowner began to notice dampness, black mould and condensation forming in her rooms. Not realising that this may be linked to the insulation she had put in, she spent time calling tradesman after tradesman to examine her home. She decided to get her drains looked at last week and as the pipes were removed, she was absolutely appalled to find a flood of small beading come cascading out of a cavity. One of the pipes was full to the brim of beads. She went back into the house to call someone to have a look and in that time the chickens came and started to eat the beads.

I am aware of homes which have had beading installed where children have picked and started to chew on the small balls. In some cases children have eaten the beads. This is extremely dangerous because young children in particular can choke on the beads. The beads are squidgy and small so it is no wonder little fingers want to play with them.

If used correctly, beading can be a good form of insulation. If it has not been installed correctly it is a nightmare to live with because homeowners constantly find beads coming out of the smallest nook or cranny.

So what went wrong? Well, firstly, a pre-installation assessment should have been carried out to determine the suitability of the property for cavity wall insulation. If this had been done, it would have immediately become apparent that this property in particular was unsuitable.

The preparation should have been thorough with internal and external checks carried out by a Technician prior to installation. Injection holes should have been drilled in the external wall of the cavity as specified by the relevant BBA Certificate and System Suppliers manual. The installation should have been via an injection gun in a specified sequence to ensure a complete fill of the cavity and after the installation, the injection holes should have been made good.

The homeowner arranged for the chickens to be seen by a vet and I am pleased to report that they were okay – perhaps a little less inquisitive and cautious before having their feed the next day.

If your home is suffering from any of the 6 tell tale signs of bad insulation, contact our expert team now for a free, no obligation chat. 

By Saimina Virmani

CEO / Solicitor

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