Cavity wall insulation helps to keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer. By doing so, it also helps to reduce the cost of your energy bills. Little wonder, that by the 1990s there was something of what The Green Age calls a goldrush in cavity wall insulation – a goldrush further propelled by a raft of government grants and incentives.
Unfortunately, the rush to meet the clamour for cavity wall insulation meant that many of the contractors installing it were untrained and inexperienced. Insulation was incompetently applied, the wrong materials were used, or insulation was attempted on completely inappropriate structures.
Problems with your cavity wall insulation are unlikely to occur overnight. They may become apparent only after the first few winters – or even many years down the line. That may be why a number of insurers are reporting a current spike in claims about work that was done several years ago.
When cavity wall insulation is incorrectly installed, or the wrong materials used, water may seep into the walls of your home. The damp may cause structural problems or lead to the formation of mould.
Mould and damp may cause health problems – especially respiratory complications – or make existing conditions worse.
Earlier forms of cavity wall insulation may have used formaldehyde, which shrinks as it hardens and ages, creating gaps of air between the walls which act as cold bridges. As the formaldehyde decomposes over time, it may even generate dangerous chemical fumes.
Damp spots may also develop in areas where the insulation material has not properly filled the cavity between the walls – energy site YouGen, for example, suggests that as many as 40% of homes with blown foam insulation have such gaps.
Making a claim for the loss and damage
As with any damage caused to the structure of your home, you might need to consider a claim under your home insurance policy.
Since the fault is likely to lie with the contractor who made the installation and in order to avoid paying the excess on a home insurance policy claim, there is another route you might want to purse first:
Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGQ)
- register your complaint and claim both with CIGA and the installer – if you don’t know the latter’s name, they’ve gone out of business or you bought the house without the necessary documentation, you may still file your claim with CIGA (but it may take longer to process);
- the basis for your claim needs to be filed with CIGA no later than 25 years after the date of installation of the cavity wall insulation;
- where possible, contact the installer first and then CIGA within the following 2 months if you and the installer have failed to reach agreement on remedial measures – the installer has 41 days in which to come up with these;
- no alterations must have been made to the installation before making your claim; and
- the maximum value of any claim under these proceedings is £20,000.
Remember that CIGA’s guarantee on cavity wall insulation automatically transfers to new owners of a property when it is sold – even if the vendor is unable to pass on the documentation relating to the installation.