Visitors are distracted by noise from my attic water tank

Your property queries answered

Insulation can often help reduce noise levels from water tanks and pipework in the attic. The tank and pipework must also be adequately secured

Insulation can often help reduce noise levels from water tanks and pipework in the attic. The tank and pipework must also be adequately secured


Q A horrible noise can be heard around my home whenever the loft tank is refilling. The problem is particularly embarrassing whenever we have guests over. I have conducted some online research in an effort to find a solution, however nothing has proven fruitful. What would you recommend that I do?

I assume it is the sound of water filling into the tank that you hear as opposed to water hammer which can cause the pipes to clang and clatter. The noise is most likely due to a restricted water flow or a faulty ballcock valve. The valve may not be closing fully and shimmering on the water causing the noise. This is a common problem with a ballcock and is usually a relatively low-cost repair. You may need to replace the ballcock washers and/or check the ballcock release lever. If this doesn’t work, then replacing the ballcock assembly complete may need to be considered. The only difficulty usually with replacing a ballcock is the restricted access around a tank within the attic.

However, the following may also need to be considered:

Older metal tanks make most noise and may need to be replaced.

The tank must be on a proper support structure and not resting directly on the ceiling joists.

The tank must be insulated and fitted with a dust proof lid. Pipes must be supported and lagged.

There may be very good, and sometimes excessive, water pressure in the area resulting in more noise on filling. Reducing the flow into the house from the main stop cock outside might help. You can adjust the pressure with a pressure-reducing valve.

Other things to consider include a constantly flowing toilet cistern downstairs which would cause the water storage tank to constantly fill. Check and repair the toilet water closet ballcock as required.

Consider also the issue of water hammer which is the banging noises that sometimes come from plumbing pipework when a tap or valve is turned off and sets up a shock wave through the water which causes the pipes to vibrate and “shudder”.

Ensure the pipework is adequately secured, replace any defective float valves. Reducing the flow into the house from the main stop cock outside might help. You can adjust water pressure with a pressure reducing valve.

Sometimes, a simple bending of the float arm to reduce the filling of the tank might work. Works should be carried out by a plumbing professional.

Pat McGovern is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) Building Surveying Professional Group

Deciduous trees

Q I’d like to plant a five-acre area with native deciduous trees. Are there any grants for non-farmers and as such who qualifies?

A New Forestry Programme 2014 - 2020, a new State support programme for forestry, was recently announced by the Minister of State Tom Hayes, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. It consists of 11 measures including grant, premium and other support schemes for landowners and farmers to establish and maintain forests. It has an allocation of approximately €111 million for 2015.

Unlike the last forestry programme, the New Forestry Programme 2014-2020 does not differentiate between farmer and non-farmer premium rates. A unified forest premium rate will now be available to all approved applicants. However, the premium payments have been reduced from 20 to 15 years. By way of compensation, these new premium rates have increased by approximately 20 per cent.

Accordingly, subject to eligibility requirements and approval by the Forest Service, you would be entitled to the same grant and premium rates as a farmer for your project. To date the most popular Grant and Premium Category (GPC) for those planting less than eight hectares has been the 3-10 Diverse Conifer GPC.

As you are interested in planting native deciduous trees you might consider the Native Woodland Scheme (NWS) which is included in the above Forestry Programme 2014-2020. The objective of the NWS is to protect, enhance and expand Ireland’s native woodland and associated biodiversity. The maximum grant for NWS Establishment is €5,750 per hectare and the premium rate is €635 per hectare per annum.

These new woodlands must reflect the native woodland type identified as being most appropriate to the site. In relation to this and other matters please refer to the Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine web site:

By way of caution it should be noted if you do afforest your land it will be subject to the replanting obligation. This implies that the said land must remain under forestry indefinitely. Afforestation on quality land generally devalues the underlying land. In addition it may have consequences in relation to future planning or zoning potential. In this regard you should consult with your local rural surveyor, planning authority, Forest Service Inspector and other professional advisors.

Tom McDonald is chair of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) Rural Practice Surveying Professional Group

Retrofitting issues

Q I am interested in retrofitting insulation to our terraced house in Dublin. I understand the external and internal insulation options for walls. However I am perplexed about how the enormous flat roof to our extension will be dealt with. Flat roofs have a short life-pan, usually 10 years or so. I would like to know what options there are for this part of the house when retrofitting insulation. Is there a way of both insulating it and extending its life, or is it better to bite the bullet and turn it into a pitched roof – which of course would be a large expense?

A Generally speaking, as you suggest, flat roofs have a poor reputation. What is little understood is that their failings are often the result of the extremes to which roofs are subjected, hot sun in the summer and frost in the winter or sometimes both in one day. This makes the membrane expand and contract causing cracks, but also forms condensation beneath which leads to failure of the substrate too. Upgrading insulation standards is always a good idea and you should consider how you might achieve maximum benefit in one exercise. Issues to consider include: the ease of installation, alleviating the need to remodel internally, extending the life-span of the roof as well as saving energy.

Insulating below a flat roof is fraught with difficulties because the traditional method to reduce condensation in a flat roof is to ventilate. Certainly in past times where little insulation is fitted it was a good method but valuable heat is taken away and subjects the vulnerable weathering layer to the full extremes of climate. Consider using insulation externally; it’s a bit like the external insulation for walls you mention and puts a warm overcoat around your roof too, this method is called an “inverted” roof and consists of a layer of “XPS” insulation and ballast to keep it there or a growing layer on top called a “green roof”. There are a number of products such as Syrodur from BASF or Roofmate from Dow that have Agrément certification containing all the details and advice needed. This method will preserve the waterproofing and extend its life, often indefinitely as well as leaving the internal finishes intact because the roof membrane itself acts to control vapour on the warm internal side.

If you are externally insulating your roof, ensure it is in good repair. Ensure that the upstand’s and outlets are adequate and that the roof structure is capable of accepting the additional load. Edge details will need careful attention. In most cases roof vents can be sealed off but you must get a “dew point” calculation carried out to ensure no internal moisture can form before you do. Put on as much insulation as the situation and your budget can carry, grants may be available from SEAI and get professional advice from a local building surveyor.

Fergus Merriman is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) Building Surveying Professional Group.

Got a query?

Send your queries to or to Property Clinic, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. This column is a readers’ service. Advice given is general and individual advice should always be sought