Case Studies

Taking the speculation out of renovation

Temperature and humidity monitoring with Heritage Field Services

Heritage Field Services began trading in 2010, and since then have been actively involved in archaeological projects; surveys of sites, monuments and buildings; conservation projects and habitat creation schemes.

The business comprises two individuals, Richard Grove (BSc Hons, PG Dip, PCIfA)and Mr David Kitching (MA), who specialises in Green Energy and Sustainable Development - and as a pair they aim to bring the best mix of traditional craft and modern building technology together.

Working across both public and private sectors, Richard and David offer practical management solutions for sites ranging from earthworks and buried archaeological deposits, through to listed and vulnerable historic buildings

Heritage Field Services aim to deliver quality through experience, and maintain the highest standards of workmanship through continual professional development. All projects are undertaken by experienced and qualified staff that hold corporate membership of the Institute for Archaeologists or the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environment Management.

The problem with ‘pen-and-clipboard’

Historic buildings are increasingly utilised as venues for modern life: as residences, as workspaces, as retail properties, or as visitor attractions. Each of these uses, present different problems that if not addressed properly can lead to expensive repairs and loss of historic fabric within the structure- those materials that provide the very character and uniqueness that makes old buildings the attractive places they are.

The two biggest invisible threats within these structures are cold and damp, both of which carry with them related threat of decay. Successful close temperature and humidity monitoring has traditionally been problematic - reliant on regular site visits and ‘pen-and-clipboard’ monitoring or generic thermostat based information. The result can be that heating programmes and management of ventilation can be oversimplified for often complex sites; where a more informed policy could provide better results for the building, its users, and the budget!

A handy solution

FilesThruTheAir™ provide the tool to monitor and manage specific zone- based data, enabling real time data collection across the buildings’ complete cycle of use without the need for specific or expensive repeat site visits. Using the FilesThruTheAir™ system, it is possible to quickly set up and monitor rooms or areas for a variety of outcomes.

To this end, Richard is using FilesThruTheAir™’s WiFi-TH+ sensors to monitor temperature and humidity, both of which can lead to decay across several sites currently in the care of Heritage Field Services.

Nether Westcote Farm is a Georgian Farmhouse, with later alterations, which is currently used for domestic purposes. This building is a typical stone farmhouse, of the type increasingly popular today as a desirable residence. The construction is solid wall Cotswold stone, and it is situated on the site of a Deserted Medieval Village in rural Warwickshire. It has had some retrofit windows, and some piecemeal insulation has been carried out. But, typical of houses of this kind- its form and performance are significantly below that of its modern equivalent, notably with regard ambient temperature and damp.

Despite this, these sorts of houses are snapped up by families and are then subjected to many modern alterations to make them more ‘comfortable’ by modern standards.

The trial of remote sensors here is to identify the most problematic areas of heat loss throughout the house, and to see what the relationship is with Relative Humidity (RH) and the ingress of damp in a structure built before the damp course was developed. The trial will also track thermal dynamics throughout a large and complex domestic structure.

The second trial, at Myton Crescent is on a 1930’s detached townhouse, which is soon to undergo major renovation. This property is typical of the popular suburban detached property. They are also notorious as some of the worst performing houses in terms of heat retention and rising damp.

The system also allows us to monitor multiple sites around the country from a central base. By logging into the cloud account with FilesThruTheAir™ we can see our data anywhere.

FilesThruTheAir™ sensors are currently monitoring the property in order to assess the worst performing areas for heat loss and ingress of damp. The data collected will allow for a heating engineer and architect to provide tailored advice to the owner on the best possible solutions for each area of the property- limiting unnecessary spend and allowing for appropriate installation of services and ventilation where there is currently insufficient provision.

Hillfield Cottage is an 1840’s terraced brick cottage within a designated Conservation Area. This property is a case in point that not all alterations are beneficial. The cottage is of typical country cottage style; open fire, low ceilings, wooden stairs and small windows. It also suffered from dreadful heat loss, despite the comparatively recent installation of double glazing and insulation.

The use of FilesThruTheAir™ sensors however, provided interesting data - all of the heat from the house was being lost from a small area of roof space above a kitchen extension, and from an even smaller dormer window from the second floor. The owners then spent £40 on extra insulation, resulting in a significant increase on the internal temperature across the entire household throughout the 24-hour cycle.

This small trial encapsulates the real benefit gained from the highly targeted data made available from these sensors for all users - multiplying this data capture methodology across much larger buildings would definitely multiply savings!

Richard Grove, (BSc Hons, PG Dip, PCIfA) said: technical

“The sensors from FilesThruTheAir™ have allowed for generic assessments of temperature and relative humidity to be tailored to rooms, areas of rooms and high traffic zones to identify trends and problem areas over extended periods, something that was not possible before. As well as this they have allowed for monitoring of interventions in real time, both in preparation and retrospect – in turn granting more data based assessments to be made. For example, from speculative: ‘X material might alter the performance’, to quantitative: ‘this made X difference to this situation in real terms’. In conclusion, these sensors have provided us the mechanism by which more complex assessments can be built.”

Discover the WiFi-TH+ Temperature & Humidity Sensor along with other sensor ranges from Corintech  here.

Interested in more examples of temperature and humidity monitoring in the museums and heritage industry?

Taking the speculation out of renovation