Timóleon Saves 18th Century Barn From the Sledge-Hammers

Construction Workers

Property programmes such as Grand Designs or Restoration Man frequently show scenes of building owners or their contractors taking sledgehammers to demolish the internal walls and floors of old properties, but the reasoning behind such drastic action is normally due to their being in the wrong place or rotten beyond repair. Imagine though, the feelings of the family in Cambridgeshire, who were told that their immaculately restored, Grade II listed home had to be virtually gutted due to a problem with the heating system. It might sound extreme, but when the owners of the old brick built barn conversion in its idyllic rural setting dating from 1765, discovered that, the underfloor heating circuits beneath their feet needed to be replaced. Indeed the building services contractor they had called in to investigate problems of noise, pressure drop and damp spots was adamant that the only way to replace the pipework was to take up the ground and first floor, including the majority of the internal partition walls. What is more, the timescale for the repairs was uncertain with the occupants being required to move out into hotel accommodation while the work was carried out with no prospect of any recompense from their buildings’ insurance providers. Overall the case is a nightmarish example of a situation many householders find themselves facing: in so far as the cost of fixing plumbing or heating leaks is grossly inflated by inaccessibility of the pipework or connections involved. Thankfully, however, the owners decided to seek another opinion, subsequently calling in Pure Plumbing and Heating of Cambridge. Although the company’s director, Steve Dunn, was of the same opinion that the existing underfloor heating system needed to be replaced, he had also got past experience of the underfloor heating range manufactured by Timóleon and believed the manufacturer’s systems offered a far more convenient as well as a considerably more economic alternative.

As a result, the owners of the elegantly restored barn did not have to watch the place being ripped apart and were actually able to remain in residence while Pure’s engineers completed the installation of an overlay system in just three weeks. In fact, Pure Plumbing and Heating’s approach was to tackle the upstairs to the beautifully timbered barn first; although this did involve bringing in a carpet specialist and a small team of carpenters to lift the floorboards on the upper level. Ingeniously, the carpet fitters took up the existing high quality carpets and suspended the rolls from the ornate trusses which divide the tall living space. Then with the 8 x 2 inch joists exposed the engineers were able to insert insulation batts between them ready to begin installation of Timóleon’s ToronFloor system. As a key element to the Timóleon’s Underfloor Heating Products range, ToronFloor presents a rapidly laid and versatile approach to fitting pipework which can be fitted floating over a concrete base as well as across joists or battens. The high quality moisture resistant particle board panels feature routed channels to take the 12 mm diameter heating pipes and were glued as well as screwed over the existing joists to prevent any squeaking in use. Then with the continuous lengths of pipe in place and connected back to the first floor Axios manifold, the surface was covered by the special foil diffuser layer. Six millimetre thick plywood was secured over this and the carpets re-laid.

Back on the ground floor, the specification switched to the use of LowBoardTM a system sitting within the Timóleon range which offers a total installed depth of just 15 mm and is therefore suitable for overlaying existing floors in most refurbishment situations without loss of headroom or the need to take more than a shave off internal doors. While the upstairs installation consumed a length of 660 linear metres of pipe, this figure nearly doubled downstairs and prompted Pure to utilise a pair of the Axios manifolds. Nine circuits totalling 600 metres of pipe were connected to the first manifold and a further 400 plus metres completed the seven circuits linked to the second.

This arrangement enabled the various ground floor rooms, including bedrooms, to be effectively zoned and controlled via thermostats and valves, while more plywood sheets covered the 12mm diameter pipe runs prior to the floor finishes being laid. Steve Dunn of Pure Plumbing and Heating comments:

“We have made extensive use of Timóleon products over the years, working on contracts across the whole of East Anglia. In this instance the pipe in the original system featured a seam, which was perished, leading to leaks and replacing it would have meant dismantling the partition walls across the ground floor. The client was initially quite apprehensive about what the contract would involve and it was originally planned that there would be a break between our carrying out the work on the first floor and then the ground floor. However they were so impressed with the speed and lack of disruption – which was in part down to the Timóleon system’s ease of installation – that this was reviewed and we carried straight on. There had never been any insulation between the upstairs joists, so we packed the spaces with Rockwool to offer acoustic as well as thermal performance and then laid the ToronFloor chipboard panels which offer good conductivity in that position. On the ground floor the LowBoard was an easy fit, creating no issue where it met the staircase. Not only has installing the Timóleon systems solved the problem, but now the client has a heating system which is far more responsive. They are very pleased with the overall outcome.”