Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Snow on the Roof Is So Revealing; House Doctor with Peter Fall of Clear Building Survey

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Snow on the Roof Is So Revealing; House Doctor with Peter Fall of Clear Building Survey

Article excerpt

Insulating your home isn't just a "green" fad - it soon saves you money, says Peter Fall.

FIFTY years ago the sight of the snow melting off your roof was seen as a sign that you could afford enough coal to heat your house to a high level. It was the poor whose homes were left with a white cap, because their homes were so cold.

How times have changed! The snow we have had since before Christmas is an excellent pointer, not to those who can afford to heat their homes but those of us who had the forethought to insulate our lofts. A drive down your local streets quickly reveals those neighbours who have and those who haven''t.

Many of us think that if we had 50mm (2in) of mineral wool quilting laid between our ceiling joists 25 years ago, it will be sufficient. It isn''t, on two counts. Firstly, after 15 years what was originally 50mm thick will have compacted down to 30mm. And that assumes you have a roof that isn''t more than 60 years old.

Slate or tile roofs installed before the Second World War rarely had any sarking felt beneath the slates or tiles. Instead they relied on mortar pointing to stop any wind-blown rain from leeching through the gaps. This pointing is now well past its use-by date and every time the wind blows, it is distributed around the loft. The weight of this crumbly mortar negates the fluffiness of any insulation, so its heat retention value is nil.

Secondly, 50mm is nowhere near enough. We now recommend five times as much, 250mm (10in), but beware - this can bring its own problem of condensation in the roof space, so don''t forget to put vents in the tiles or the end walls to get rid of excess moisture.

Some homes are difficult to insulate, for example where there are rooms in the roof. Insulating sloping ceilings needs special treatment. …

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