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One thing led to another for businessman Pat Murphy, when, in the course of his work with a company which tests properties for radon gas, he discovered an urgent need for another specialist service - for the treatment of dampness, condensation, mould and mildew. And, since its establishment in 2011, Aqua Stop supplies and installs a range of high-quality ventilation and humidity products in the domestic, commercial and industrial markets.
“Our sister company, Radon Ireland, tests for radon gas, installs barriers and also carries out water- and damp-proofing of below ground structures. In the course of our work in that area, we found that we were entering a lot of properties which appeared to have high levels of mould, mildew and condensation,” says Pat, who is Technical Director of Aqua Stop, adding that significant numbers of residential and commercial properties were experiencing these problems.
There were also significant issues for many older buildings, both with dampness soaking through perimeter walls and with leaking chimneys where moisture was entering the building through cracks in the chimney plaster.
“We saw a need for specialist damp proofing and mould removal,” he recalls, adding that for most properties experiencing problems with mould, mildew or condensation, the key is humidity control.
“In many properties, there are excessive levels of humidity,” he says, adding that with residential properties, for example, the modern lifestyle is often a major factor in problems with dampness.
He points to research carried out by the University of Nottingham which showed that one adult can generate a staggering 20 litres of moisture a week - through, for example, steam from cooking, members of the household having frequent showers and allowing clothes to dry on clothes-horses.
However, the establishment of the specialist firm Aqua Stop has brought effective solutions for worried property owners. The firm uses specialist knowledge and state-of-the-art equipment to resolve the problems caused by damp and humidity, in both domestic and commercial properties.
However, warns Pat, the high levels of insulation in many new builds means this is a problem which is set to become more prevalent.
“New houses currently being built are extremely highly insulated,” he explains, “although this allows property owners to heat their premises economically, it also makes the building far more susceptible to high levels of humidity.
“Many new houses have heat recovery systems that bring in moisture along with fresh air. While these systems are resolving one problem, that of heating the house in an economical way, they are creating another. In other words, they’re bringing unwanted moisture into the property and it is a problem that will become more and more common in the years to come. Whether you are building or improving your property, many people neglect the less obvious need for ventilation and humidity control, which every property requires.”
“Although people want to insulate their home to such a degree that their heating bills are extremely low, they’re unwittingly allowing moisture into their property. If the humidity level in a house can be maintained within the 50% to 55% range, a healthy environment will be maintained and the insulation in the house will work properly because the house is dry,” Pat explains.
However, on a wet day - and in Ireland we get plenty of those - an average property can record humidity levels of up to 85%. Yet the same house, on a hot sunny day, will experience levels as low as 50%!
“There is a big range there, but it can be managed if the expertise and equipment is available, and that is what our company does,” he says. Pointing out that Aqua Stop carries its own Professional Indemnity Insurance - which means employees can enter any property to carry out an assessment and develop a proposal, before designing and subsequently installing an efficient system - Mr Murphy adds that customer feedback to date has been excellent.
“People often assume that if there is a lot of damp in a property, it may be down to structural issues such as leaky windows,” he says, warning however that if property owners simply replace windows without a proper investigation of the cause of the damp problem, they may simply be adding to the problem. “The same goes for people who see mould on the walls and simply wash it off and paint over it with special paint. That is only a short-term solution and the mould will reappear sooner rather than later.”
“In relation to external leakage, such as water soaking through gable walls or through chimney plaster, we have a range of products such as Liquid Glass and Liquid Rubber which will seal these buildings from the outside as the first line of defence so that moisture can no longer penetrate,” he explains.
Aqua Stop is the sole distributor of the Liquid Rubber product range in Ireland, which deals with the common problem of leaking flat roofs, balconies, valleys, gutters and chimney stacks. The range also includes a variety of products that provide the ultimate protection for porous surfaces ie stone, brick concrete etc.
“Aqua Stop provides products and expertise for projects of many different types and sizes. Our customer-focused service enables us to provide the very best solution for your home while our experienced design team provides bespoke solutions for each and every customer. We provide an end to end service to ensure your home will be healthy, comfortable and energy-efficient,” says Pat.
* For more information visit www.aquastop.ie