Foil insulation - should it be removed?

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by Wiz, 11th Nov, 2018.

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  1. Wiz

    Wiz Active Member

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    I have an IP in Queensland that I have only recently purchased. The building inspection identified foil insulation in the roof space. Apparently this was most likely installed during the government roof insulation scheme, and it was common to install foil instead of pink batts in Queensland. The property has safety switches, and no downlights. I have read and been told conflicting information about whether I should have the foil insulation removed. What are everyone's thoughts? And, if it is best to get it removed, what type of tradesperson should I hire?
     
  2. Michael Mitchell

    Michael Mitchell Well-Known Member

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    If it were me, and I didn't want to spend money unnecessarily on changing something that probably doesn't need to be changed, to safeguard against liability, litigation and protect your rights re: insurance,

    1. Seek clarification in writing from your building insurer and your landlord insurer (also from the liability side for person injury/death etc), if the current state affects your cover in any way.
    2. Engage suitable smoke alarm compliance business to handle your smoke alarm compliance obligations, eg. Smoke Alarm Solutions for $79/year etc. so that you did everything right under your Lessor obligations re: smoke alarm legislation for tenancies in Qld.
    3. (over kill but for the small cost) Seek clarification from suitably insured building certifier re: the insulation installation in the premise and contraventions of building code/other etc.

    Worst case scenario - house burns down, occupants die, coroner comes knocking, you open the door with smoke alarm compliance certificate in one hand, building certifiers report in the other, hands free on your mobile lodging claim with insurer to get your house rebuilt.
     
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  3. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    Have you asked your building inspector what he suggests. We had foil insulation installed, and then there were deaths from inexperienced installers having shot metal staples through the foil and the foil becoming "live" due to the staples having also touched live cables. That is my understanding of it anyway.

    We were contacted to ask if we wished to have the foil removed. I believe from memory that we did have a choice to leave it, or have it removed, but I'm not certain about that. We did have it removed.
     
  4. Wiz

    Wiz Active Member

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    He suggested removing it, but when I checked with the government insulation website, it said that it can either be removed or a safety switch installed. The property already has a safety switch.

    I would prefer to remove it, but have no idea what type of tradesperson does this. Do you remember who removed yours?
     
  5. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    At the time, the removal was organised through the same government site that organised the install (from memory).

    If you don't need it removed, I'd keep it. My memory of that time was because it was a government stimulation scheme to stop Australia from going into a recession, this was one of the quick fixes, and the problem was that so many companies jumped on the bandwagon to fill all the jobs, that people were hired who were not trained properly, and it ended in such tragedy.

    If your foil insulation is installed correctly, and perhaps it might not even have metal staples, perhaps it is okay to be left there. I'd be asking the building inspector directly.
     
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  6. spludgey

    spludgey Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't remove it. The deaths occurred because the foil touched live wires. So the foil wasn't actually the problem, faulty wiring was.
    So if you want to reduce the risk of electrocution, the logical thing to do would be to leave the foil in but remove all the wiring.
     
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  7. Joynz

    Joynz Well-Known Member

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    I recall that the wiring wasn’t faulty it was the installation method.

    The foil was stapled into electrical wiring using conductive staples - which caused the foil to become electrified.

    Best for PO to look up requirements for his/her state.
     
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  8. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    @Joynz is right. The metal staples apparently caused the whole surface of the metal foil to become "live" and it killed several young people. So check if the fixings are metal, and if they are, check that they aren't causing the foil to be "live".

    I'm sure the building inspector would be most helpful here. I'm sure building inspectors would be looking for this. It was a huge story at the time.
     
  9. Wiz

    Wiz Active Member

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    Other than suggesting that I remove it, the building inspector was not very helpful. He did not enter the roof space because of the foil insulation, and did not check if there were staples or faulty wiring etc.

    I would really like to remove it so I don't have to worry about anyone's safety, but I don't know who to contact for a quote
     
  10. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd call a company who installs it and ask them to check whether yours needs to be removed. If so, perhaps they would do it. Or I'd guess any builder would do this, but whether it needs to be removed is the question.
     
  11. Marg4000

    Marg4000 Well-Known Member

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    Your best bet would be to replace the foil insulation with a better product. In Queensland insulation is a necessity.

    Left alone, with a safety switch installed, the insulation is probably quite safe. But you will have difficulty if you need any work done, i.e., electrical, that requires access to the ceiling space, as most tradesmen won’t enter with foil insulation in place as existing electrical wiring can’t be seen.

    Contact any insulation company and ask for a quote to remove and replace.
    Marg
     
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  12. spludgey

    spludgey Well-Known Member

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    Even if that's the case, the foil itself does not present as a risk unless there's any exposed conductors touching it.
    If you have RCDs for all your circuits, then the risk becomes extremely low, even if there was an issue.
     
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  13. bunkai

    bunkai Well-Known Member

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    I would be very reluctant to get in the ceiling where there is foil insulation but I don't necessarily think that it needs to be removed.

    If power is off at the switchboard it doesn't guarantee there is no power in the ceiling. Even if you have RCDs on all circuits you may still have unprotected power in the ceiling.
     
  14. Paul@PFI

    [email protected] Tax Accounting + SMSF Business Plus Member

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    Most homes wont have RCD switches on lights, fans and downlights which are in roof space. Just on main power point circuits

    Covering wiring with foil seems an illogical cheap solution. Is it capable of removal without damage ? eg To install a new fan, add or change wiring eg smoke alarm ?
     
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  15. Joynz

    Joynz Well-Known Member

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    With all this angst, we still don’t know where the foil is installed!

    It makes a big difference.

    Is it laid over the ceiling on top of the joists?

    Or is it under the tiles or corrugated iron roof?
     
  16. bunkai

    bunkai Well-Known Member

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    I always though sarking under the roof is different to ceiling insulation although I see the similarity. Hot air circulates between the two thought....
     
  17. Wiz

    Wiz Active Member

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    It's not sarking under the tiles, it is foil insulation laid over the ceiling.