Set fire to your attic for €1
As part of financing systems, there is an increasing number of offers to insulate attics for €1. There are ever more players on this market and they sometimes clearly lack training, which leads to non-conformities in how insulation is fitted. Blowing insulation, an apparently harmless operation, can then start a fire.
Energy savings certificate systems offer to insulate empty attic space for €1. With such a tempting offer and the increasing cost of energy, insulating attic space has become a priority for owners, who are increasingly turning to this kind of operation.
Insulation is then blown into the attic space over half a day and the owner is happy to have got a good deal. Although they are in themselves harmless, cellulose wadding and a halogen light built into the ceiling do not make for a good combination.
We have recently seen a significant increase in the number of fires in attics. We are used to seeing fires with an electrical origin (junction box) or due to non-compliant fire clearance (flues) and our investigations have often shown that a fire began following the ignition of cellulose wadding provoked by contact with a halogen light.
Laboratory tests have confirmed this scenario by demonstrating that the contact temperature between a spotlight and the wadding was a little over 350°C, which is enough to set the insulation on fire. The material will then smoulder for a few hours (increasing the temperature of the insulation to up to 640°C) before setting fire to the attic. It should be noted that with an LED spotlight, there was no ignition in laboratory tests as the maximum temperatures reached were around 100°C.
A fire could be avoided if the insulation was fitted according to industry standards (technical opinion of the CSTB—French Scientific and Technical Centre for Building—on this subject No. 3693-V2).
Therefore, the insulation in the attic of a house must never be in direct contact with the built-in lighting such as halogen spotlights and protective covers should always be applied. The same applies to transformers that must have covers or be equipped with a layer of insulation.
Nicolas Patris – Loss Adjuster, in charge of Fire risk specialty