go to top scroll for more


Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number EP/R008329/1
Title Methods and Metrics for Moisture Risk Assessment- Solid Wall Insulation (MRA-SWI)
Status Completed
Energy Categories Energy Efficiency(Residential and commercial) 100%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Architecture and the Built Environment) 100%
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Dr D Allinson
No email address given
Civil and Building Engineering
Loughborough University
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 01 February 2018
End Date 30 June 2019
Duration 17 months
Total Grant Value £98,909
Industrial Sectors Construction
Region East Midlands
Programme NC : Engineering
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr D Allinson , Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University (100.000%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (0.000%)
Project Contact , The British Board of Agrément (BBA) (0.000%)
Project Contact , Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (0.000%)
Project Contact , Historic Environment Scotland (0.000%)
Project Contact , Kingspan Insulation Ltd (0.000%)
Project Contact , Willmott Dixon (0.000%)
Web Site
Abstract If the significant numbers of dwellings with solid masonry walls (SMWs) are to be insulated, there will have to be a paradigm shift in the way that moisture risk is assessed. Methods must be developed to clearly demonstrate that insulation solutions are effective, robust and resilient to moisture even when considering the vagaries of our future climate and the way that people choose to live in their homes. This research will result in new methods and metrics, backed by rigorous scientific evidence, that enable moisture risk assessment of SMWs to be carried out routinely, new insulation materials to be developed and more homes to be insulated.Insulating the UKs existing housing stock will be an essential step in achieving greenhouse gas reduction targets and alleviating fuel poverty. The highest levels of heat loss occur in the c30% (8 million) homes that have SMWs. Insulating these walls offers significant potential for fuel savings but may cause moisture problems. Water accumulates within SMWs when it is raining outside or humid inside and diminishes with drier conditions. This water can pass from one face of the wall to the other as there is no cavity to act as a capillary break. Applying insulation to either the inside or outside face of the wall changes the temperature of the masonry, the rate of wetting and drying at each face and the locations where water vapour might condense and accumulate. This moisture can lead to mould growth, interstitial condensation and freeze thaw damage. These problems can cause severe damage, are expensive to repair and can affect the health of occupants.Current guidance in the UK Building Regulations (approved document C) and related standards is not adequate for assessing moisture risk when insulating SMWs. The simplified steady-state vapour diffusion model is not appropriate because dynamic liquid moisture conduction is the dominant moisture transport mechanism when SMWs are exposed to rainfall. There is a distinct lack of guidance on how to use more advanced transient heat and moisture simulation software, what inputs should be used for the boundary conditions and how the results translate into moisture risk. Straightforward design principles, based on many years of practical experience and research, have led to contradictory advice e.g. there is no clear consensus on how permeable the insulation material should be to water vapour. Thus only a small handful of hygrothermal experts might ever attempt a quantitative risk assessment for insulating SMWs and fewer SMWs are being insulated as a result. This research project will address these problems. Firstly, a framework will be developed for using advanced heat and moisture simulation software to carry out moisture risk assessment. This will include guidance on the boundary conditions to be used at the inside of the wall, and outside especially for wind driven rain exposure. It will also identify appropriate criteria to minimise risk from moisture accumulation within the wall, mould growth at the indoor surface and freeze/thaw at the outside surface. A number of insulation materials will be compared to understand which can best reduce the risk of moisture damage when insulating SMWs. Secondly, probabilistic modelling methods will be used to understand how robust different insulation solutions are to moisture damage given that there is considerable uncertainty in boundary conditions and material properties. Thirdly, new approaches to moisture risk assessment will be explored. A 'moisture safety factor' might describe how resilient an insulated SMW is to extreme events such as flooding. It may be possible to develop a completely new laboratory test for assessing insulation solutions. The underlying strength of this research comes from the collection high quality primary data, in the new state-of-the-art Hygrothermal Test Facility, for validating the results from the models
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 07/01/19