A solid start

As the Government looks to promote Solid Wall Insulation as a viable way of upgrading the thermal performance of UK homes, Installer recently attended a training day at Knauf Insulation’s ThermoShell Academy to learn more about the process.
In the drive to make UK homes better at retaining heat, Solid Wall Insulation (SWI) has traditionally been overlooked in favour of loft and cavity wall options. However, as it is becoming increasingly difficult to find new customers for loft and cavity, the Government’s attention has been turned to the 6.6 million properties that have a solid wall construction – to the tune of £1.2 billion of funding under ECO.
Uninsulated solid walls can lose even more heat than cavity walls – typically as much as 45% of the property’s total heat loss. While both External Wall (EWI) and Internal Wall (IWI) Insulation are viable options for solid wall properties, Installer joined the training course for IWI as this is seen as a closer fit with the skill set of most installers.
How it works
Knauf Insulation’s ThermoShell IWI system works by building an internal insulated stud framework that is filled in with glass mineral wool insulation slabs. This is then covered with a ThermoShell Vapour Control Layer to prevent the formation of condensation. The whole system is finished with plasterboard to create the new internal wall.
The course itself lasts a whole day and combines theoretical sessions in the morning and a practical session in the afternoon, when attendees get to fit a section of ThermoShell for themselves. The day concludes with a multiple-choice test to ensure that lessons have been learned and the process understood.
Once the course is completed, an installer can officially carry out IWI installations. Knauf Insulation insist on supervising the first three projects to ensure that everything is done correctly – and a subsequent inspection will occur every quarter to monitor that standards are being maintained.
Craig O’Donnell, National Refurbishment Manager at Knauf Insulation, led the training course and believes that the drive towards IWI is an ideal opportunity for heating engineers and plumbers.
Huge new opportunity
“The Green Deal has placed a greatly increased emphasis on upgrading the thermal performance of the 6.6 million solid wall properties in the UK. With the sheer volume of work to be done around the country, it presents a huge new business opportunity and from an installer’s perspective it makes sense to be in a position to provide as many services as possible. Offering to upgrade a home’s thermal performance is a logical step and one that presents great rewards.
“Heating and plumbing engineers already have many of the skills required to offer solid wall insulation upgrades or would be able to acquire them easily. For example, as solid wall insulation affects the ventilation of a building, it is essential that installers have complete knowledge of gas appliance installation and associated ventilation requirements. Therefore, it’s a requirement that ThermoShell Approved Installers hold a valid ACoPs certificate for ventilation and gas appliances, which is a qualification all installers who are Gas Safe registered will already possess.
“The ThermoShell Academy offers an opportunity for installers to up-skill and prepare themselves to take advantage of the business opportunities offered by the Green Deal. We have already had a high level of interest and praise for the course, with places filling up quickly.”