Iceberg

Insulation…Winter is coming!

Clearly Global Warming is what everyone is talking about, the effect upon our environment and the World that we may leave for our Children’s Children. There has been much written about the situation that mankind has made and if there is away forward, or have we responded too slowly and now looking at a lost cause?

Regarding the insulating of our homes, you may say, if the environment is that much warmer what is the need to insulate in a country like the United Kingdom where severe weather is less common and the likelihood of snow during the winter less likely and frosty mornings something that may become memories from our past?

The answer must be this, that most fuels that we use will have a negative effect upon The Earth and most fuels that are available to us are increasing in cost, with shortages potentially the case. It therefore makes good sense to look after the heat that we have produced and to retain it in the properties where we live and work.

Post pandemic the World has stirred and the economy’s which have laid dormant for months are using and absorbing all the natural resources which are available. Therefore, demand and prices are high, and resources available low. The UK store less gas than any other country in Europe. As a youngster I recall seeing the green gas storage tanks in virtually every town that I drove through, where are they now?

Please remember that properties that are well insulated do get a double bonus of good insulation, the first being warmer in the winter and the second cooler in the summer, which when you consider the cost and effect of air conditioning is a tremendous plus point.

Insulating your home doesn’t just make it more energy efficient, it is also one of the best things you can do to reduce your energy bills remember to look for cheaper energy deals that may be available and that you may be able to switch to. Insulating your home will make your house warmer and more comfortable, while also reducing its impact on the environment in the process.

What does insulation do?

Insulation – and draught proofing – protects your home against cold in winter and excess heat in the summer and can even reduce noise pollution (like the sound from a road or passing aircraft). What’s more, some key insulation measures are ‘low cost’, in that they pay for themselves in less than five years.

Other than low energy lighting, these measures have the best returns of all energy efficiency investments. Furthermore, if you decide to sell or rent your home, the rating that your home receives on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) will be improved.

How does the heat escape from my house and the cold get in?

There are five ways that heat can escape:

  1. Conduction – that’s heat moving through solids like metal or brick.
  2. Radiation – this is the heat you directly feel when you stand near a heat source. It is in fact infra-red radiation, and just another form of ‘electromagnetic radiation’ like radio waves, visible light, ultra-violet and x-rays – which all travel at the speed of light. If you take infra-red photos of your house on a cold, still night you can help see where heat is being lost.
  3. Convection – this is the natural tendency of warm air or water or other gases and liquids to rise, while cold air and water falls downwards. This often results in circulation of air and is the main principle behind central heating radiators.
  4. Air movement – draughts are a common form of heat loss, taking warm air from within the home and letting it out into the outside (and typically replacing it with cold air coming in). Another example is a wind blowing past a house, which will generally have a cooling effect on it. Water movement has the same effect upon your property.
  5. Evaporation – not a process that we naturally associate with heat loss, but if it rains on a hot summer day, after the rain stops, some of it may evaporate from the roof and walls, and this will cool the home considerably.

Where do I need to insulate in my home to protect myself from heat loss?

On a cold day, heat can escape from your home in all directions, – up, down and sideways. So, you should think about insulating the whole property and not just concentrating on one element.

  • The roof
  • The walls
  • The floor
  • The windows and doors

Many people make the mistake of assuming that heat only goes up – but only one form of heat transfer (convection) primarily moves up. Heat will travel in all directions. It is also known that heat will always travel towards cold.

If you adjoin another home, either through shared walls or through a floor that is in effect another household’s ceiling, or vice versa, you are fortunate as you will not suffer from heat loss, assuming the other side is heated as well. However, you will still need to heat your home, as you will not have heat gain either. The general rule is that the bigger the temperature difference, the greater the flow of heat. So, the colder it is outside, the greater the heat loss from your home.

How much heat is being lost from different parts of my home?

This depends on the type of house that you live in, whether it’s detached or semi-detached, or if it’s a terrace property, and if so, if it is mid or end terrace. When an EPC is being completed on a property, the heat loss perimeter is a significant calculation and will hugely affect the outcome. The larger, or longer the heat loss perimeter is, the more heat you will lose from it. If you live in a flat, the losses will be different again, and will depend on whether your flat is in the middle, at the top or at ground floor level.

For a typical house the walls will lose most heat, around 30% and up to 40%. The roof will be next at around 25%, probably followed by windows and doors at around 20%, and the floor (of your lowest storey) at around 10%. Quite a large loss will occur because of draughts and a lack of airtightness. Of course, draughts can also be attributed to floors, doors and windows, the walls or roof. It should also be known that some controlled ventilation is essential for reducing the risk of stale or damp air.

Do I need planning permission for insulation work?

In most cases, insulation work does not require planning permission from your local council. The exceptions may include external wall insulation and, in areas where there are conservation schemes, glazing.

Even if you don’t need planning permission, building regulations could apply, so check with your local council’s building control department.

What types of insulation are there?

Good insulation types

Good insulators include many products that typically have a structure similar to wool. In effect a good insulator will trap tiny pockets of air within a material which itself is also a good insulator. These include the very common mineral and glass wools, which come on rolls in blanket form, or in a somewhat denser form as batts or slabs.

Sheep’s wool is of course a great insulator, as are other natural fabrics like hemp and cotton  so curtains are good insulation products. Some mineral and glass wool style products are ‘higher density’ and therefore have greater insulation effect, typically about 25% greater.

Most wood and wood- based products, for example, MDF, plywood, and hardboard, are also generally quite good insulators – so wooden doors and wooden loft boards help keep warmth in the home.

Not surprisingly, paper is another a good insulator, including recycled paper, and cellulose from other sources such as crop wastes. Although flammable in its untreated form, it is treated to make it fire resistant for use as insulation. This is supplied in sealed sacks, but once opened is in loose form, which makes it suitable for installing in circumstances where blankets or batts won’t fit.

Polystyrene and similar products are generally good insulators. Polystyrene is sometimes referred to as EPS (expanded or extruded polystyrene slab) form. These products are also usually fire resistant, and much denser and heavier than the sort of polystyrene that is used for packaging. EPS is typically 50% more effective, for the same depth, as a standard mineral or glass wool product.

Closely related are spray foam solutions, which are typically polyurethane based. The foam forms on the mixing of two chemicals and it hardens, trapping tiny pockets of air. Because the foam fills crevices and gaps, it can also eliminate draughts and provide strengthening to existing building structures, for example roof tiles. Other foam solutions include adhesive strips for insulating around windows, doors, or loft hatches.

Some ‘insulators’ work by stopping the flow of air (draughts) through cracks and gaps, such as sealants (mastics). One of the cheapest sealants is papier-Mache, which you can make yourself from torn-up paper and wallpaper glue.

Another method of insulation is reflection. There are now multi-foil products, which are generally a sandwich of metal foils and plastic style insulators. These can be used to reflect radiated heat and are designed to insulate where there is not the space for wool, batt and EPS type products. Some polystyrene and other products are also coated with foils.

Good insulation material doesn’t just slow the process of heat loss, depending on its specific use, there are other properties that are important too, such as physical strength, fire resistance, resistance to mould, and non-toxicity; cost is another important consideration too.

Poor insulation types

Unfortunately, many materials with physical strength and which are therefore used in building construction, including metals (such as copper, steel, and aluminium), stone, brick, tiles, and concrete, are good conductors and have limited ability to insulate. However, some more modern versions of these materials have been designed to have construction strength but lower heat transmission than in the past, for example, modern breeze blocks.

Water is also a bad insulator, which means that anything that soaks up moisture will usually conduct heat away quite quickly. Moving air also takes heat away quickly even though air that is prevented from moving, generally when trapped in tiny pockets, makes a good insulator.

Here are some of your quick wins that will not break the bank.

These are the type of small tasks that any of us could do at home with little or no cost and a minimal amount of experience.

1. A digital thermometer

Digital thermometers that record the maximum and minimum temperature since last being reset can show you just how warm or cold different parts of your home are. This is basic tool that will help you to identify specific rooms in your home that need attention. Working on the basis ‘if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it’, thermometers are a good investment.

2. A plug-in thermostat

If you use an electric heater without thermostatic controls, your heater will continue to generate heat and use electricity even after a room is warm enough, which is a waste of energy and money. A plug-in thermostat can solve this. You plug the heater into the plug-in thermostat, which is in turn plugged into a power socket, rather like plugging an electrical device into a time switch. You can then set the temperature you want on the plug-in thermostat and once it hits that temperature, it cuts off power to the heater.

3. An electric blanket

Electric blankets can be a way of compensating for a chilly bedroom. Most electric blankets are designed to fit below the bottom sheet, they are typically used to pre-warm a bed. During this pre-warming phase they have a relatively high -power consumption, around 100 watts for a double sized bed. Once you are in bed, an electric blanket must be turned down to the sleep setting. This setting uses about a quarter of the electricity, typically around 25 watts, which is equivalent to a couple of mid-power low energy light bulbs. However, many people turn the blanket off altogether once they get into bed.

One alternative to an electric blanket is a hot water bottle, although this is not necessarily more energy efficient, especially if you do turn the blanket off once you get into bed – which is a good habit to get into. Neither option should be a substitute for sufficient bedding, or an appropriately warmed bedroom. It’s important to ensure that any bedroom is not too cold, especially if the sleeper is elderly, unwell or a young child.

4. A brass radiator key

A brass radiator key is a useful investment for bleeding your radiators, which releases the gases caught in a radiator causing it to be cold towards the top and reducing its efficiency. It is worth paying extra to invest in a brass key, rather than buying a pressed steel one, as the latter tend to be easily broken. Many modern radiators don’t have the standard square valve head — if that’s the case you’ll need a screwdriver as well.

5. A radiator shelf.

A radiator shelf just above a radiator helps to throw heat forward from the radiator into the room, rather than letting it raise up to the ceiling. You can buy purpose-made radiator shelves, which clip easily onto most radiators.

6. Radiator reflector panels

Radiator reflector panels can stop heat being wasted from the back of a radiator into an external wall. They are especially useful in older homes where the walls are solid, which rules out the option of cavity wall insulation. You can buy radiator reflector panels or radiator foil, or you can make your own by cutting a piece of cardboard to size and covering it in the type of kitchen tin foil you use for cooking. You’ll need a long stick and double-sided tape to attach them to the wall behind the radiator.

8. A carbon monoxide alarm

Getting rid of draughts and unnecessary ventilation is a major way of reducing wasted heat, saving money on your energy bills in the process.

A carbon monoxide alarm is not energy-saving but you need to invest in one before you make any changes to reduce draughts or alter the ventilation in your home. This is in case you block a source of essential ventilation by mistake, such as for a fuel burning device that doesn’t have a balanced flue, for example, an old boiler. It’s a good idea to have an alarm anyway; carbon monoxide (CO) is highly toxic, but impossible to detect without an alarm because it is colourless, odourless and tasteless.

9. Expanding foam

There are some simple solutions to draughts. Expanding foam, which comes in an aerosol can, is useful for filling holes in brickwork. If you upgrade your boiler, for example, any new boiler will have a balanced flue, meaning you no longer need an air ventilation in an external wall in the area where the boiler is sited. So, the obsolete airbrick could be filled with expanding foam. One word of caution though: many gas fires still don’t have balanced flues, so don’t assume you can block up a room vent just because you are upgrading a gas fire. It’s also important to keep clear any ventilation in roof spaces or under the level of floorboards.

10. Papier-Mache

Another heat saving measure is to fill medium-sized gaps in floorboards with papier-Mache – this is easy to make, you just mix wet wallpaper paste with torn newspaper – which is easy to press into the gaps. It’s a very effective and inexpensive solution, assuming you’re not intending to expose the floorboards as a feature.

11. Sealant

Smaller gaps that allow draughts can be filled using a tube of sealant. You may need a simple steel caulking gun, or the sealant may be packaged so you can use it without one. It works well to fill gaps around doors and window frames.

12. A letterbox flap

A letterbox flap to keep out draughts at your front door is another inexpensive investment, especially useful if the outer flap doesn’t fit or return to its position very well.

13. Draught seals

Ill-fitting doors and windows can be a source of draughts. There are a variety of draught seals or sealing strips that can be used around doors and windows in order to reduce draughts and stop the unnecessary loss of warm air.

14. Curtains

Windows and doors will also benefit from heavy or lined curtains, especially if they are only single glazed.

15. A chimney balloon

A chimney balloon blocks the cold air that falls down a chimney, as well as preventing internal warm air from being drawn up the chimney when it is not in use. The balloon can be deflated and taken out of the fireplace as and when you need to use it. If you are looking for a more permanent solution, and don’t have plans to use your fireplace at all, it is best to get a qualified tradesman to cap the chimney at the top and shut it off at the bottom, as this will be more energy-efficient.

Summit Environmental become TrustMark Approved.

What is TrustMark?

TrustMark is the UK’s only Government Endorsed Quality Scheme

The whole ethos of TrustMark is their passion for quality – it underpins what TrustMark stands for – continual improvement, best practice, excellent customer service and protection.

Trustmark provide a high level of assurance, certainty and protection to homeowners looking to have work done in and around their homes. TrustMark Registered Businesses are thoroughly vetted and continually monitored to ensure they meet required standards in technical competence, customer service and trading practices, so homeowners can be sure they’re making the right choice.

Peace of mind about quality of work and customer service

Whether you are looking for an electrician, a plumber or a landscape gardener, the TrustMark logo is a reassuring sign of the quality and standards they are required to uphold. TrustMark Registered Businesses are required to adhere to high standards of technical competence, customer service and trading practices, all of which are underpinned by our Customer Charter, the Code of Conduct and the Framework Operating Requirements.

Why use Summit Environmental?

For exactly the reasons above, we care about quality and customer service.

To find out more about Trustmark visit

https://www.trustmark.org.uk/
TrustMark Logo

Retrofit assessments to improve energy performance in Sussex

Summit Environmental are accredited by TrustMark for our Retrofit assessments. TrustMark is a government endorsed quality scheme for trades in and around the home. 

What are retrofit assessments? What is PAS 2035?

From 1st July 2021, all ECO3 funded Retro-fit work will have to adhere to PAS 2035 standards, which will require fully trained and TrustMark approved retro-fit professionals such as Summit Environmental.

A Retro-fit assessor will complete more than just an EPC, which we all know is needed for the sale or rent of existing UK housing stock. The role of the retrofit assessor will complete an occupancy assessment, a condition report and to convert Rd SAP assessments to SAP assessments to comply with the requirements of a retrofit assessment.

The Process of Retrofit assessments

Part 1) The Occupancy Assessment.

The Occupancy Assessment will be used to generate a professional report which outlines how the occupant uses the energy of the property. With this assessment you can use the Rd SAP data and create an accurate report based on the household’s overall energy usage.

This is achieved by entering information such as the number of occupants in the property, the actual water usage per week, which rooms are heated by which heating systems etc. as well as the use of white goods within the property and information provided from household bills.

Part 2) The Condition Report.

This flexible reporting process will allow a create a room- by- room report of a house, entries may be multiple ‘items’ within a room and can provide a brief description of their condition. A star rating will be attached to each room to represent its overall condition. In addition to this, pictures will be taken and attached as evidence for each part of the report. With the information the Condition Report Survey will generate a PDF file with all the information entered in a clear and professional format. 

Part 3) Rd SAP to SAP Converter.

This conversion tool allows users to Rd SAP data, to create a Design SAP input file which can be passed to Retrofit Coordinator, who will be the project manager for the conversion project.

The history of the Retro fit process is covered by the following paragraphs which is driven by the countries target to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Government Targets.

This relates to the governments targets which were originally set, based upon the greenhouse emissions as of 1990. The initial figures have been changed, and the target is now for the UK to be carbon neutral by 2050. To meet this goal by 2050, there needs to be significant improvements to the UK’s 27million domestic dwellings. Domestic dwellings account for a substantial proportion of our greenhouse emissions, considered to be around 25% of the problem.

Each Home Counts.

The Each Home Counts report was published in 2016 and outlined 27 recommendations, including the establishment of a quality mark, now known as TrustMark, for domestic retrofit supported by a framework of technical standards.

The aim of the report was to restore confidence of consumers and the government in the retrofit industry, to facilitate new central and local government policies whilst promoting a national programme of domestic retrofit.

What is PAS 2035?

PAS 2035 is the specification for the energy retrofit of domestic buildings and was developed as part of the Each Home Counts process. The Retrofit Standards Framework is the standard that any holders of the Trustmark Standard, is required to comply with when carrying out domestic retrofit work.

When considering the government’s target to not only reduce carbon emissions, but to also end fuel poverty, it became evident that more needed to be done to improve the UK’s housing stock. The Each Home Counts introduces a better process for the retrofit of energy efficiency and renewable energy. As a result of this review the introduction of the Pas2035 framework document was introduced for the end- to -end delivery of the domestic retrofit work.

When does PAS 2035 apply?

The government have made it clear that any funding they provide for energy efficiency measures will need to go through the PAS 2035 process.

Where does PAS 2035 apply?

PAS 2035 requires that every dwelling that is to be subjected to energy retrofit work is to be firstly assessed by a retrofit assessor who will provide information about the dwelling for use by a retrofit coordinator.

PAS 2035 may be applied to all domestic retrofit activity that is covered in the following categories:

  • Funded by national or local government schemes,
  • Retrofit promoted/funded by landlords, including RSL’s and private landlords,
  • Individual buildings by their owners or occupants.
  • Retrofit that is integrated with and forms part of a broader repair.

Have questions on improving your energy performance, retrofit assessments and EPC’s contact us https://summitenvironmental.co.uk/contact/

Tank Insulation in poor condition

“Asbestos In Commercial Premises, What You Need To Know”

Who is responsible for managing asbestos in a commercial property?

This is a question that crops up time and time again when granting leases. Tenants will usually insist on seeing an asbestos survey and landlords are keen to wash their hands of it (literally).

Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (Regulations) imposes a duty to manage asbestos risk in non-domestic premises. This requires the ‘duty holder’ to determine whether asbestos is present in a building or likely to be present, and to manage any asbestos that is or is likely to be present.

So what does this actually mean?

Firstly, a landlord does not have to arrange an asbestos survey in order to let a property. This is a common misconception. Many tenants seem to think that this is a mandatory requirement (like an EPC) but this is simply not the case. A landlord’s only requirement is to comply with its obligations as ‘duty holder’ under the Regulations. This is not a pre-requisite to letting the property to a tenant.

A landlord must keep in place its own records and a written plan to manage asbestos and they are required to provide information about the location and condition of the asbestos to anybody who is liable to disturb it. This would typically include tenants, contractors and employees. However, tenants who believe that they can force a landlord to carry out an asbestos survey are mistaken.

Secondly, a ‘duty holder’ is any person who has an obligation to maintain or repair a commercial premises or exercises some element of control over the whole or part of it or has a means of access to and from the premises. In broad terms, therefore, it captures anybody with an interest in the property (under a tenancy or not). This means that there can be more than one person at any one time who is a duty holder. In the typical landlord and tenant scenario, the landlord is the duty holder before the lease is granted, and both the landlord and tenant are duty holders after the lease is granted.

So, is the landlord ‘off the hook’ as soon as they grant a lease?

No, not quite. The landlord cannot shift the obligations of duty holder to a tenant, but as soon as the tenant signs the lease it will become a duty holder in its own right.

Where there is more than one duty holder, the contributions to be made by each party in complying with the Regulations are determined by the nature and extent of the maintenance and repair obligations owed by each party to the other. In other words, a carefully drafted lease can place most (if not all) of the obligations on to the tenant.

The situation is slightly different in a multi-let building where the responsibility for maintenance of the common parts, services, external fabric and main structure of the building will generally lie with the landlord. Here, the landlord will be required under the Regulations to arrange for asbestos surveys and for copies of asbestos registers to be produced for each tenant – although a properly drafted lease will ensure that these costs are recovered from the tenants under the service charge.

Finally, it is worth remembering that:

  1. ‘Managing’ asbestos does not necessarily mean removing it. The only requirement is to have an action plan and a system in place for managing the risk. In many cases the best decision may be to leave the asbestos in place because it is contained and ‘safe’.
  2. Even where the landlord has passed the responsibility on to the tenant, the landlord will still have to step in and carry out work in the event of the tenant’s default – so this is always something to monitor and keep on top of.

Asbestos management is definitely something to discuss and agree from the outset of any lease.

The Regulations apply to both landlords and tenants, so it is in everybody’s interest to reach a mutual understanding.

Need help, contact us to discuss your requirements on [email protected]

Online Health and Safety Training goes live on Summit Environmental

World Day for Safety and Health at Work

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) marks its World Day for Safety and Health at Work on or around 28th April each year. World Day is an international campaign to promote safe, healthy and decent work around the globe.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created uncertain times and businesses are trying to deal with the situation in the best way they can. We wanted to let you know that we have implemented remote working solutions and online training all from the safety of your office or home.

Managing Health and Safety doesn’t have to be complicated, costly or time-consuming. In fact it’s easier than you think. If you have taken reasonable steps to prevent accidents or harm to your employees. Its never been easier  with our range of RoSPAIATPCPDIIRSMIFELaserILM & ETA approved courses

 

Who are they for?

Some of your staff may have particular health and safety training needs, for example:

  • new recruits;
  • people changing jobs or taking on extra responsibilities;
  • young employees, who are particularly vulnerable to accidents;
  • health and safety representatives.

 

What course?

If you need training why not check out https://summitenvironmental.co.uk/online-training/  for a range of our courses including

Asbestos Awareness

Assessing Display Screen Equipment

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

CDM Awareness

Introduction to Risk Assessment

Slips, Trips and Falls

Working at Height

Fire Extinguisher

Basic Fire Safety Awareness

Basic Legionella Awareness

https://summitenvironmental.co.uk/online-training/#asb1

How can online training help you?

EPC

Why do we have EPC’s on our homes?

Did you know that in the U.K. between 25% and 30% of CO2 pollution comes from our homes, that is indeed a great deal of pollution, and when you review your domestic energy performance certificate, not only will it tell you the environmental changes you could make to your property, it also calculates the quantity of CO2, that you are puffing into the air and also how you could reduce the effect upon the environment by reducing the tonnage of CO2 that your property is emitting  and potentially saving you money too.

 

Virtually every day on the National News, and certainly International News there are stories of how Mother Earth is reacting to what we do to it. However just in case you do not have the news on:

Ice caps Retreating,

Artic Sea Ice Thinning,

Global Sea Levels Raising by 1-2mm per year,

Global Snow Cover Decrease By 10% in Fifty Years,

Weather Related Economic Losses Have Increased Ten Times in Forty Years,

The Huge Bush Fires That We Have Seen in Australia, And The USA,

In the U.K. Since 2000, We Have Had Some of The Warmest Summers Ever.

 

It is now even more critical to monitor what we are doing far more accurately and formulate plans so as to change what we have done for so long and to find a new normal. This new normal will be zero CO2 emissions, and with a target date of 2050.

Seasons Greetings

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and goodbye 2020, what a year its been! We thought we would start with a brief review of our year.

Asbestos

We have been pleased to help so many clients with asbestos surveys, asbestos testing, asbestos remediation management across London and the South East including Sussex, Hampshire, Kent, Surrey, as far as Plymouth, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and even a couple of local works in Ashurst Wood. With the Pandemic a lot of new asbestos survey companies have started up driving prices and quality down. With our bespoke software and highly trained staff we refined our service offering and it has been a good solid year for Summit Environmental.

Fire and EWS1

EWS1 forms and external cladding works have been in the news all year. Summit Environmental has undertaken wall cladding services including combustibility testing, external cladding remediation and EWS1. The works have kept us busy throughout the year, we have a number of large cladding remediation projects pencilled in for next year.

Hazardous Materials

We have undertaken a number of Inventories of Hazardous Materials (IHM’s) on Vessels this year within the UK and involved in a number of exciting tenders, watch this space… other hazardous material surveys have included contaminated land projects, sulphate testing in concrete and  Isocyanate testing

EPC’s

This year we have completed commercial EPC’s alongside our asbetsos surveys for many of our clients. Next year we are increasing our service offering to residential EPC’s. More information coming in January 2021.

Online Training

With our clients speeding more time at home, we provided an online training module, which is now live on our website, offering online training from the comfort of your home or office, the training covers, basic fire training, asbestos awareness, asbestos awareness for architects, manual handling and noise and many more, check out our full list here https://summitenvironmental.co.uk/online-training/

Other Matters –

A year of Zoom – Not much else needs to be said other than who ever bought shares in zoom, will be having a Ho Ho Ho to themselves.

Christmas opening times – Asbestos and Hazardous materials unfortunately don’t disappear at Christmas, so see below our Christmas and New Year opening hours, however if you need us, call us.

  • Wednesday 23rd December, 9 am – 5pm

  • Thursday 24th December, 9 am – 1pm

  • Friday 25th December, Closed

  • Saturday 26th December, Closed

  • Sunday 27th December, Closed

  • Monday 28th December, Closed

  • Tuesday 29th December, 9 am – 5pm

  • Wednesday 30th December, 9 am – 5pm

  • Thursday 31st December, 9 am – 1pm

  • Friday 1st January, Closed 

  • Saturday 2nd January, 9 am – 5pm

  • Sunday 3rd January, Closed
  • Monday 4th January, 9 am – 5pm

Lastly – we would like to say thankyou for your continued support to us during 2020.  We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and hope that you are able to celebrate in some form, even with the latest Covid Restrictions. Wishing you a great Christmas and a healthy, prosperous new year in 2021.

Asbetsos testing

Are asbestos home testing kits reliable? – Q and A

In this guide we discuss everything you need to know about asbestos testing kits and evaluate just how effective, reliable, and safe they really are.

Asbestos is class 1 carcinogen and can cause significant health problems for anyone who is exposed to it. Exposure to asbestos is known to cause or be associated with lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer that is found in the lining of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart), and asbestosis. Care must be taken when sampling or managing buildings that contain asbestos.

Asbestos may be present in your home or place of work, asbestos testing is essential to manage the risks from asbestos. The materials in question should be tested to determine what, if any, asbestos is present.

It is possible to obtain asbestos testing kits easily, which enable untrained people to take samples of suspect materials, is this the best, proactive way to deal with a class 1 carcinogen?

How to use an Asbestos testing kit?

Most asbestos testing kits work in a two-step process. The kit provides you with the equipment to take samples of any suspected asbestos containing materials (ACMs). Small samples are taken of the suspect material and placed into sample bags. Samples are then posted to a testing laboratory where experts analyse the materials and identify whether they are positive or negative for asbestos content.

Asbestos testing kits – cost?

Asbestos home testing kits can range from as little as £25 to more than £80, although this will depend on how many samples have been allowed for and where its purchased from. It is worth noting that not all kits cover the laboratory fee and might be additional.

Who sells asbestos testing kits?

Anyone can sell an asbestos testing kit; therefore, check the kit you buy has what you need inside and is safe and practical for what you need it for. Normally kits are purchased from asbestos consultancies as these kits will be more robust. The sales technique of DIY test kits is looking for another way of capturing the market.

Asbestos testing kit – kit requirements.

The equipment included will vary from kit to kit. However, generally it includes:

  • Disposable coveralls (category 5/6)
  • Disposable gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Face mask (FFP3 minimum)
  • Sample bags and packaging
  • Cleaning wipes

Asbestos home testing test kits have become popular in the UK and Internationally, but what are the pros and cons of using an asbestos test kit, and is there a difference between an asbestos home test kit vs. a professional asbestos consultant?

The advantages of home asbestos test kits?

  • Quick. (dependent on the postal service)
  • Relatively inexpensive. These kits often include the required kit (see above kit requirements)
  • PPE Provided. Each kit comes complete with personal protective equipment for safely taking samples, easy to follow instructions and return packaging
  • Lower Costs. In some cases, you will save money using an asbestos home test kit instead of paying the hourly rates for a specialised trained asbestos consultant.
  • Commercial and Residential Uses. The home testing kits can be used for commercial and domestic customers concerned about asbestos containing materials being present in their property

The negatives of home asbestos test kits?

  • Kit Quality. Masks supplied in DIY testing kits do not always offer the best protection against airborne asbestos-containing fibres. Once inhaled, asbestos can remain lodged in your body, leading to health issues, often even years later.
  • Asbestos Samples. Asbestos fibres are microscopic, and they are often mixed in a matrix of other materials making identification extremely difficult to those not technically trained.
  • Hazardous Materials. Some asbestos containing materials are not dangerous unless they are damaged or disturbed. Therefore, inexperienced sampling and testing can cause higher levels of disturbance. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone.
  • Asbestos identification. Unless you have previous experience of testing for asbestos, it is not always easy to take samples effectively. The equipment provided in an asbestos home-testing kit can often be basic. Therefore, it can be difficult to ascertain whether what you have sent off for laboratory analysis truly represents the materials at your property.
  • Asbestos Exposure. By carrying out testing yourself, you could disturb and release asbestos fibres. So, you could expose both yourself and others living or working in the property or visiting it to the high risks of this substance if they become friable or airborne.
  • Making Safe. Once testing is done, the areas where samples have been taken must be sealed to reduce the risk of further asbestos disturbance. Are you confident you would be able to do this sealing effectively yourself?
  • Reliability. DIY testing kits are not normally as reliable nor as safe as hiring an asbestos consultant to take samples of ACMs.

Asbestos consultants

There are many reasons why only a qualified professional should be involved in a job as important as asbestos testing. If you decide to hire someone to perform a professional asbestos test instead of using a home testing kit, there are a few things to consider.

  • Number of asbestos materials. Many clients both in commercial and residential settings are not aware of the number of products in their homes, therefore more materials may be identified, and full surveys may be a better option.
  • Experience. Asbestos surveyors normally have years of experience, are fully qualified, insured and use specialist equipment to ensure the results are accurate.
  • Qualified. Experienced consultants know what to look for, what to send off, know how to test safely and protect themselves and others. Equally, they will know about fibre disturbance, how to handle ACMS’s and how to make safe a site sample point.
  • Cost Savings. Rather than taking samples of multiple materials, it may be more cost effective to complete an Asbestos Management Survey, Asbestos Refurbishment Survey or Asbestos Demolition Survey. This will then provide you with a survey report which will outline detailed information about the type of asbestos, its condition and location.

The question we get asked the most is?

Are home testing kits reliable?

A few factors can affect this.

  • Sample Type. Some samples such as textured coatings need more than one sample due to the non-homogenous nature of the materials.
  • Sample Size. If the sample is too small, it may not be a true representation of the material.
  • Experience. With no experience or using incorrect tools to take samples, it may not give a true representation of the materials being sampled.
  • Sampling Method. Some asbestos materials such as asbestos cement soffits can be difficult to sample or take an accurate size sample or if painted, i.e., have you sampled deep enough, will greatly effect the sample results.

 

In Conclusion

Asbestos testing kits are here to stay and can be useful. If you do decide to use a DIY asbestos testing kit, follow the instructions carefully to avoid potentially exposing yourself. Wear gloves, goggles, FFP3 Masks with appropriate filters to ensure you are protected.

Many people involved in property are not aware of the number of products in their homes that could potentially have some level of asbestos. Asbestos testing kits can be an essential tool for most homeowners. Unfortunately, it is not until a homeowner decides to undertake some renovations when the asbestos is found, if asbestos is in poor condition or damaged, it is time to call in the professionals.

If you need independent, quality, consultancy and advice or more information on asbestos and hazardous materials we would be happy to help.

Asbestos management and compliance in schools.

Is your school compliant with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012?

A large number of schools and other public buildings contain asbestos – often in the fabric of the building. Its presence alone should not cause concern, provided it is managed properly. Many schools, built before 2000, will contain asbestos, of the 29,000 schools in Britain, more than 75% contain asbestos. School buildings may contain asbestos if any part of them was built before 2000.

Nurseries, schools, colleges and universities are not obliged to tell you if their premises contain asbestos. Do you know about the buildings your children, friends and families attend contains asbestos?

Asbestos what is the risk?

Asbestos that is in good condition and unlikely to be damaged or disturbed is not a significant risk to health. The Department for Education referred nearly 700 schools in England to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as they did not provide evidence that they were managing asbestos in line with regulatory requirements.

The most likely way asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) will create a risk in schools is when they are disturbed or damaged through maintenance, repair or construction activities. Disturbance could also occur by an accidental football or a thrown bag if asbestos is not managed satisfactorily within high footfall areas.

 

What to look out for?

Asbestos-containing materials within schools (ACM’s) include:

  • Asbestos lagging, thermal insulation on pipes and boilers
  • Sprayed asbestos used for thermal insulation to ceilings and void spaces
  • Asbestos-insulating board (AIB) used for fire protection, thermal insulation, wall and ceiling tiles and partitioning in classrooms
  • Floor coverings such as lino’s and floor tiles
  • Cement materials used for sheeting, roofing and guttering
  • Textured coating and finishes to walls and ceilings
  • Woven materials to electrics

 

Who is at risk?

School caretakers are a particular group at risk due to the nature of their work, eg drilling and fixing. Other contractors may be at risk while undertaking maintenance or installation work, while at the school. If asbestos is disturbed during such work, there is a risk that fibres will be released and create risk to others in the school. This fibre release increases the risk of exposure to asbetsos of anyone using the school buildings such as staff and pupils.

This means that teachers and pupils are unlikely to be at risk in the course of their normal activities in a school where the asbestos has been identified and a safe management strategy is in place.

 

Who is responsible for asbestos management in schools?

Anyone who has responsibility for the maintenance and/or repair of non-domestic premises, including schools, is a ‘dutyholder’ as defined in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

For community schools, community special schools, voluntary-controlled schools, maintained nursery schools and pupil referral units, this could be the local authority. For academies, free schools, voluntary-aided and foundation schools, it will be the school governors. For independent schools, it may be the proprietor, governors or trustees.

 

The dutyholder’s responsibilities?

The duty holder must assess and manage the risks from asbestos to employees and others that may be likely to disturb asbetsos. They must also ensure that anyone who is likely to work on, or disturb, asbestos is provided with information about its location and condition. This is enabled by;

  • The ‘management survey’ this will identify if any asbestos-containing materials are present within the school.
  • Assess the risks associated with ACM’s in your school. Assess the material type, condition, location and likelihood of fibre release.
  • Devise an Asbestos Management Plan (AMP’s). The asbestos management plan identifies the risks posed by the asbestos present in the property and sets out procedures to control them. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 states that “all duty holders with known or presumed asbestos within their premises must have an effective written asbestos management plan in place.
  • Make sure staff, visitors and contractors know the risks and precautions they need to take.
  • Keep the management of asbestos in your school under review. This will include a review of the management plan, re-inspection surveys, training for staff, remediation of high risk items.

 

What can you do and how can Summit Environmental help?

Summit Environmental can provide:

  • Independent assessments
  • Asbestos management and refurbishment surveys
  • Asbestos re-inspection surveys
  • Asbestos exposure investigations
  • Asbestos management plans
  • Asbestos remediation management
  • Consultancy and advice

 

If you have concerns regarding asbestos in schools or other premises where asbestos may be present, Contact us at [email protected] for more advice or information.

 

Recent articles include

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/jul/04/700-english-schools-reported-over-asbestos-safety-concerns

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/03/asbestos-found-nearly-half-local-authority-run-primary-schools/

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/asbestos-danger-5000-primary-schools-17325850

Compliance with The Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR, 2012)

The Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR, 2012)

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 covers work with asbestos, and licensing of asbestos-removal activities. Regulation 4 contains an explicit duty on the owners and occupiers of non-domestic premises, who have maintenance and repair responsibilities, to assess and manage the risks from the presence of asbestos.

The ‘duty to manage asbestos’ requirements of regulation 4 of CAR 2012 do not normally apply to domestic premises. However, the requirements do apply to common parts of premises, including housing developments and blocks of flats. Examples of common parts would include foyers, corridors, and lifts and lift shafts, staircases, boiler houses, vertical risers, gardens, yards and outhouses.

What is the Duty?

The duty requires you to manage the risk from asbestos by:
 Finding out if there is asbestos in the premises (or assessing if ACMs are liable to be present and making a presumption that materials contain asbestos, unless you have strong evidence that they do not), its location and what condition it is in;
 Making and keeping an up-to-date record of the location and condition of the ACMs or presumed ACMs in your premises;
 Assessing the risk from the material;
 Preparing a plan that sets out in detail how you are going to manage the risk from this material;
 Taking the steps needed to put your plan into action;
 Reviewing and monitoring your plan and the arrangements made to put it in place; and
 Setting up a system for providing information on the location and condition of the material to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb it.

How do dutyholder’s comply?

There are four essential steps:
 Find out whether the premises contain asbestos, and, if so, where it is and what condition it is in. If in doubt, materials must be presumed to contain asbestos
 Assess the risk from asbestos present in the premises
 Make a plan to manage that risk and act on it
 Provide this information to other employers (eg building contractors) who are likely to disturb any asbestos present, so that they can put in place appropriate control while the work is being done.

Summit Environmental….your partner in asbestos compliance!

We can guide you through your asbestos management process and help you comply with your legal obligations.
 Asbestos surveys – identify asbestos in your premises by way of completing surveys; management, refurbishment or demolition.
 Asbestos management plans – develop and implement and effective plan to ensure you are managing your asbestos effectively.
 Asbestos re-inspections – following identification of asbestos materials, we complete annual re-inspections and monitor and report on the asbestos previously identified.
 Training – asbestos awareness, management training and CPD sessions
 Asbestos remediation scoping, tendering and remediation management – Once identified, we will advise you on the best way to deal with asbestos in the most efficient, safe and cost-effective way.