Green Deal  External Wall Insulation (EWI) – How safe is it?

by Readers Question

13:55 PM, 19th June 2017
About A year ago

Green Deal External Wall Insulation (EWI) – How safe is it?

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Green Deal  External Wall Insulation (EWI) – How safe is it?

I am a private Landlord with a modest sized portfolio. I was able to have all my properties clad with external wall insulation with the help of Green Deal grants.

I kept a sample of the foam insulation used.

In view of the Grenfell Towers tragedy I decided to take a sample of the foam insulation and set fire to it and was horrified to find that if billowed black toxic smoke and dripped hot foam.

Can fellow Landlords please help. What is my position, and that of possibly many other Landlords, can the installer (a large national business) be required to replace the external wall insulation at their own expense, using ‘safe’ fire and smoke resistant foam insulation.

Many thanks

Peter



Comments

Neil Patterson

14:04 PM, 19th June 2017
About A year ago

Hi Peter,

I am no fire safety expert, but I believe the issue with cladding that is not fire retardant is that it in tall buildings it accelerates the fire up the outside of the building. Where normally with concrete partitions internally and fire doors it is contained to one floor.

The specific Grenfell cladding was banned in the USA I believe for properties over 30 feet.

If it is a normal two story standard construction type house then any internal fire is going to travel far more quickly up through the ceiling to the next floor than an external wall.

I would consult with the company that provided the insulation, the council and also the Fire brigade if concerned.

James Alcock

18:36 PM, 19th June 2017
About A year ago

Hi, I think the EWI that you got and the Grenfell cladding are very very different. On the Grenfell block, the existing concrete wall panels had Celotex PIR board attached. This board was not covered with anything. Then there was a 50mm cavity and then they had a weatherproof panel on the outside that had a plastic core.

Basically in that instance the unenclosed celotex acted as an accelerant as far as I understand and the cavity between the celotex and the panel essentially encouraged the chimney / stack effect, drawing up the fire - the weatherproof panel also was flammable apparently. Basically it was the perfect storm, fire being pulled up the cavity and two flammable materials either side of it.

On your property, I assume the EPS (a different material to celotex) is completely enclosed in a cement based adhesive. The insulation material is flame retardent rather than fire proof, but in the event of a fire, the insulation would melt within its cement plaster enclosure, so there is very little risk it would act as an accelerant as seen last week. There would be no cavity at all - and it might even be that mineral wool was used instead of EPS which is non-combustable.

There is a good article about exactly this that you can access here - https://www.thegreenage.co.uk/external-wall-insulation-safe/


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