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How Do I Attach Satellites & Washing Lines to EWI?

Installing an EWI system will add upwards of 100mm to the thickness of external walls. A question often posed to us is ‘How do I attach satellites & washing lines to EWI?’ At the EWI Store, we hold a very close partnership with SWIFIX. The SWIFIX system is a completely innovative and patented solution. The SWIFIX mission statement summarises the solutions their system provides:

“Our products are one of the most cost-effective solutions to enable the fitting of external furniture through external wall insulation and rain screen cladding, with the added benefit of being designed specifically for the job. Fully PAS2035 complaint for the future of retrofitting and the Modular housing sectors and the ideal solution for a longer-term maintenance provision.

All fittings meet stringent technical requirements by preventing the compression of insulation and providing a watertight seal. They are also approved by many leading manufacturers and organisations developing modern methods of construction to support the requirement for new homes in the UK.

We are confident that our products are the most innovative on the market as well as being cost-effective. They are a highly robust and technical fixing that is easy to install as well as providing a maintenance solution.”

(SWIFIX)

Spiral anchors

Spiral anchors, when used in the context of External Wall Insulation (EWI) systems, are often used for attaching lightweight items to the insulated facade, not for the insulation itself. These lightweight items might include things like downpipes, cable trays, signs, or decorative elements. As they are usually plastic fittings, the recommended load is around 5kg per fixings. However, they require no special tools and also create no thermal bridges.

The process for installing these anchors for lightweight items will follow these steps:

  1. Mark the location – Determine where the lightweight item will be placed on the EWI surface.
  2. Drill a pilot hole – Drill a hole through the insulation and into the underlying substrate at the marked location. The depth and diameter of the hole should match the specifications of the spiral anchor. It is crucial to note that not all render finishes require a pilot hole. Thin coat systems do not require one and you can screw the spiral anchor directly into the insulation.
  3. Insert the spiral anchor – Place the spiral anchor into the hole. Ensure it goes through the insulation and securely into the substrate.
  4. Screw in the anchor – Use a suitable tool to screw the anchor into the substrate until it’s secure. After the fixing has been initially fitted, a mastic seal must be placed around the last thread section before final tightening. Standard external grade screws can then be used (up to 50mm embedment) for securing lightweight fixtures and fittings.
  5. Attach the item – Once the anchor is secure, you can attach the lightweight item to the anchor. This may involve screwing the item onto the exposed end of the anchor, or it might involve some other method of attachment, depending on the specifics of the item and the anchor.

SWIFIX and their solutions to attach items to EWI

The standard method for fixing items through EWI has relied on timber patresses. A timber patress, also known as a pattress or a patress plate, is a flat piece of timber that is used in construction to spread the load of a fixing or fixture over a larger area. This helps to prevent damage to the wall and ensures that the fixture is securely attached.

In the context of External Wall Insulation (EWI), a timber patress is often used when attaching heavier fixtures to the wall. The fixture, such as a satellite dish or an awning, is attached to the timber patress, and the patress is then fixed to the wall, spreading the load over a larger area of the wall.

SWIFIX developed their range of fixings to solve the issues timber patresses pose. As they are manufactured from timber, they are prone to failure. However, SWIFIX fixings are manufactured from PVC, which costs less and is technically more appropriate for EWI systems.

Connection point fitting

The connection point fitting is incredibly versatile. It can be used to secure cables, attach washing lines, hang baskets, and affix utility cables to existing substrates. The marine-grade stainless steel eye bolt ensures that the attachment point is incredibly durable. Moreover, the design of the fitting ensures that the seal is watertight and does not require mastic. As the fitting goes directly through the EWI system, thermal bridging is also minimised.

Tap fitting

A SWIFIX tap fitting is the premier solution to fitting an external tap on your EWI system. The design of the fittings ensures a watertight seal. SWIFIX fixings are designed to eliminate the risk of cold spots and water ingress when installing fixings; this ensures that the system remains functioning optimally and that the thermal efficiency of the system is maintained. Crucially, the systems are tested by the British Research Institute for strength, compression, and load-bearing capabilities.

Satellite fitting plate

The satellite fitting player completely eliminates the need for timber. A satellite dish will require refitting following the installation of an EWI system. With a SWIFIX satellite fitting plate, the installation will have a watertight seal, as well as distribute the weight of the satellite across the plate.

Pipe connector

The SWIFIX Pipe Connector provides a robust and secure fitting for various sizes of pipework. Ideal for gas, rainwater and items that require a secure and rigid fixing. It is fitted through external wall insulation to the existing substrate, providing a watertight seal without the need for mastic. 

External wall cable connectors

The external wall cable connectors were developed by SWIFIX in response to a customer’s issue with affixing cables. The system combines a unique interlocking system, preventing the over-tightening of the spiral anchor, as well as maintaining the correct angle for cabling. The neoprene washer ensures a watertight seal. Using the cable tie element in conjunction with the SWIFIX Single Tube allows the securing of heavier items, such as commercial cables and lightning conductors, to be secured back to the substrate independently from the insulated system.

The major benefit of using SWIFIX fittings to attach to EWI is the prevention of water ingress. Water ingress is the scourge of most building assemblies, and this includes EWI systems. Water can travel behind fittings that do not sit flush, or behind insulation boards. This is why verge trims are also crucial to prevent water ingress. New regulations dictate that verge trims require a secondary waterproof membrane to supplement the actual trim. All of this feeds into the whole waterproofing of the system.

Have you recently used SWIFIX fixings to attach items to EWI? If so, let us know about your experiences below. If you have any other questions, leave them below also!

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