problems with one batch of wool insulation

Wool insulation in the raw (Hafod y Llan)

We have recently had to remove the wool insulation from a small mansion in N Wales. This was such a disappointment as it was one of the first projects i was involved with using wool. This is the second failure the NT have experienced.  The wool which was one of the early batches installed was not treated with Borax but with Diatomaceous Earth . Borax is the main treatment all now seem to use. This early treatment has failed and has resulted in a large infestation of moth which usually don’t stop with the wool but carry on through the house.  I still have faith in wool as an insulation but its these one offs which make it difficult to progress. Rightfully we are now using the precautionary principle and will be monitoring the 100 or so buildings we have with wool installed. All of the wool we have installed has been treated with borax and the treatment procedure has improved greatly. In Wales we have decided to insulate all of the mansions with mineral fiber both for the precautionary principle but also wool and most natural fibre (although not all) have slightly lower ignition point. I have no doubt that wool as a product will continue to improve and would no qualms using it in my own house. will let you know if we have further developments

Installing wool insulation (still a good product)

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14 Responses to problems with one batch of wool insulation

  1. Thermafleece Moths says:

    Sorry National Trust but your experience is far from a one-off. There are many, many people affected – from homeowners, self-builders, architect practices who tried it in their offices, hotels, etc. For many their lives have been ruined, faced with removal costs they cannot meet and no hope of compensation.

    Previous (early) claimants received compensation. But not any more, Second Nature UK Ltd, the supplier of Thermafleece (the leading brand of wool insulation that initially used Diatomaceous Earth (DE)) has recently liquidated.

    But don’t worry, you can still deal with the same people, operating from the same premises selling Thermafleece – they just happen to have set up a new business, Eden Renewable Innovations Ltd. In the trade this is known as phoenix company, a commercial entity that emerges from the collapse of another through insolvency. There is no hope of the full costs of current claimants being met – many are talking in figures anywhere from £30K to 150K. Most can expect a pay-out that will just about cover legal fees.

    Believe me, as soon as we commence work on our house to get to the moth infested Thermafleece out, I will be posting videos on YouTube showing everyone the true horror of what we uncover.

    For too long many of us were lead to believe we were isolated cases. Perhaps this is why Keith Jones talks about one-offs. I believe we have only scratched the surface on this issue….

  2. Gill Findlater says:

    I am one of the people currently made homeless by Thermafleece supplied by Second Nature now trading as Eden Renewables. (There was always a serpent in Eden!)

    We are currently incurring costs of over £100,000 because the sheepswool is behind all our walls as well as in the roof space. It is not covered by our insurance and the company failed to tell us when we bought it in 2004 that their insurers AXA had withdrawn from them because of the problems they had already had. We also wasted a year trying to find the source of the problem because Second Nature steadily denied that the moths could be in the sheepswool. We also got no help from the BBA who certified the product. (Beware this much-trumpeted certification it counts for nothing.)

    I too continue to support sustainable innovations and believe that wherever we can save energy and water, reduce carbon emissions and avoid using products which damage the environment we should do so. But at the moment I am filling skips with plasterboard and a lousy product that didn’t last 7 years, replastering, repainting and spraying with insecticide throughout. So this product has been ruinously bad for the environment as well as our finances.

    What I have learnt is painful: – however ‘green’ the message, a poorly researched product produced by a poorly managed company (that’s the kindest interpretation) is NOT sustainable however great your ‘faith’ is. Kinda obvious I sadly realise.

    The National Trust is a large and very significant body and it’s critical that you continue to lead the way in ‘Going Green’ – but that also means rigorously following up problems and reporting flaws as widely as possible because your use of the product has been widely used in marketing it. This was NEVER a problem with ‘one batch’ and to suggest that it was, simply adds to the misleading greenwash being put about by those whose motive is profit not the environment.

    • Keith Jones says:

      thanks for this. I am so sorry for what your going through. Our blog is open and honest and reflects what we have gone through on all fronts (good and the not so good). we have only had twp cases(so far) but are monitoring the situation. Let us know how you get on

  3. Rosemary Johnson says:

    I have read that borax doesn’t last and you can get wool loft insulation that is treated with chemicals to deter moths but that defeats the purpose of having a natural product in your loftr

    • Keith Jones says:

      Hi Rosemary. Thanks for the comment. Borax does last quite a while…. If it’s applied correctly and the insulation is kept dry with humidity in acceptable tolerances. Most wool insulation in the uk is bonded with man made materials to maintain loft in the insulation. Be careful selecting and then be careful with instillation the be careful with maintenance… Be careful!

  4. Still Thermafleece Moths says:

    and that includes being careful with the company you choose to buy the insulation from!! For example I wouldn’t choose a company that has damaged the natural insulation industry and numerous home owners because they denied their product was faulty for months and then went ‘bankrupt’ rather than pay any compensation, re-emerging immediately trading under another name.

  5. Mr John Bradwell says:

    I’d be grateful to know it there have been any more problems with using Sheep Wool. I’m looking to insulate the house and was going to go down this route, but this article has given me real cause for concern- thanks Joh

  6. Mr John Bradwell says:

    Thanks – think that is all you need to say – ps – we really enjoy visiting NT places

  7. Anne says:

    There is a product called Comfort Wool I _ I think it is connected to Isolena products that uses plasma ionic technology with electrostatic attraction to stop moth infestations called Thorlan I W ,I am not sure if anything else is used. Does anyone else have experience of this?
    If wool is not used what are healthy alternatives?. Plasterboard with aerogel is an option possibly-.does anyone know about that option?

    Would stone mineral wool( such as Rockwool) be safer than something like Earthwool (glass mineral wool) which contains a lot of glass fibres though it is said to be safe and is formaldehyde free).They changed IARC assessment of carcinogenicity of glass fibre/mineral fibre products from possibly carcinogenic to much less likely but it is still doesn’t seem totally risk free .Fireboard plasterboard is also stuffed full of glass fibres usually.Are glass fibres safe?
    Solid foam insulation boards such as Iko or Celotex seem to be certainly the cleanest method but some pur and pir boards can produce hydrogen cyanide in a fire but so can a lot of foam in sofas, and paints and glues.
    Any ideas on the safest best insulations for different parts of the house?

    • Keith Jones says:

      the comfort wool looks interesting. I have a few questions the first one i have is durability of the insecticide with areas of high RH. I see it has a relatively high fire point but was a little confused with is what rating applied to what class, its states E and B, B. The hygroscopic aspect is really good if you do the whole house as a breathing wall. the other aspect is what will happen with high RH such as the west of the uK where most of the time atmospheric RH is above 70% for most of the year. we have seen this with continental european products before in that they can’t cope with the RH we have and slumping can occur. need to know more about the treatment

    • Han says:

      If the particles can enter your lungs, it is not safe. Re glass. Aerogel didn’t pass our safety requirements, either.

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