Luton Air Tightness Testing, Licensed by AF-Acoustics

Air tightness testing, otherwise called air pressure testing or air leakage testing, is the measurement of the outflow of air from a building’s fabric. Since Approved Document L was reviewed in 2006, air tightness testing has become an essential part of building regulations for newly completed and rehabilitated buildings.

Because air leakage is the process whereby air escapes through any crack or hole in the building envelope and influences its energy performance, building regulations have been modified to ensure a building has adequate air tightness. Our Air Tightness Testing certificates are registered with Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), a professional association dedicated to promoting technical excellence in all air tightness testing and air leakage measurement applications. As a certified air leakage testing company in Luton, we are ready to provide testing services whenever you want. You can also call or email us for any of these services:

  • Assessments
  • Consultancy
  • Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing.

As registered members of the ATTMA, our air tightness certificates are accepted as proof of building regulations sign-off. Not only do we test the air permeability of your building, we describe the procedure in a professional manner and advise you on problem areas discovered during the evaluation. Our customers get greater value for money spent, and our testing services are of superior quality.

Our Guarantee

  • Over 15 years experience
  • State of the art equiptment
  • Onsite Support
  • Next Day Report Turn Around
Call us today for a quote on 020 3372 4430
Or you can email us at info@af-acoustics.com

Air Tightness Testing – What Does It Mean?

Air tightness testing involves calculating the quantity of air which escapes through holes in the building fabric. It is sometimes referred to as air leakage testing or air pressure testing. Air leakage is the uncontrolled flow of air through gaps and cracks in the fabric (often referred to as infiltration or draughts) and not ventilation, which is the controlled flow of air in and out of the building. Air leakage is uncontrolled ventilation. Air tightness testing is the approved method for gauging the entire air that has leaked through a building fabric. Once too much air escapes, heat reduction occurs, causing the temperature of the building to drop to a level that isn’t comfortable for those residing in it. Because the government is striving to scale back carbon dioxide discharge from new buildings, building rules now focuses on reducing air loss from the building envelope. This helps reduce CO2 emissions. With air tightness testing, you can determine whether or not air is leaking from a building’s envelope, the build quality and energy efficiency of new developments. The building regulations have made air tightness part of the building’s design from the beginning of the construction. This ensures that the fabric of a building is air tight. When the building fabric is properly constructed to reduce air loss, the building is economical, and energy efficient.

What Air Leakage Is

Air leakage is uncontrolled air movement in a building due to cracks. Air leakage is the uncontrolled movement of air into and out of a building through gaps and spaces in the building’s fabric. Also known as infiltration, it is different from ventilation, which is air that enters a building in a controlled manner. It may cause uncontrolled influx of air during frosty and windy weather. This reduces the temperature of the building, making the occupants uncomfortable. Testing for air leakage plays a primary role in determining the energy efficiency of a building. It is an important procedure that measures the air tightness level to ensure that the regulatory standards have been attained and the building’s energy calculations have been properly accomplished. All commercial buildings over 500m² and new buildings in England and Wales are mandated to test for air tightness and permeability, according to the 2006 Building Regulations.

Effects of Air Leakage

Heat loss within a building can be caused by air leakage. Heat loss is caused by influx of frosty outside air into a building through the openings in its envelope during draughts and cold weather, leading to an uncomfortable drop in temperature. It doesn’t stop there. Warm, damp air within the building escapes the gaps in its envelope. The warm air is filled with moisture, which hits the inner wall surface and condenses. Moisture is sucked into the building material, and this can lead to serious structural issues. Wet wooden framing or sheathing can rot and break down, diminishing its strength.

Over time, any of these conditions can cause structural damage.
Air leakage can also cause these problems:

  • Colder homes that result in discomfort
  • Higher heating expenses
  • Reduction in CO2 emissions’

The best way to reduce the harmful effect of moisture is to efficiently control how air moves into and out of the building. The potential of vulnerable wall structures to absorb condensed moisture is reduced when air barriers are properly installed and uncontrolled air flow is reduced. Proper ventilation, whether active or passive, is critical in expelling undesirable damp scents, water vapour and polluting substances.


Why is an Air Tightness Test Important?

Air tightness is a key factor in building energy efficiency, and is a part of government-led initiative to combat climate change through improvements in building energy performance. Heating buildings contribute to global warming and CO2 emissions, since fossil fuels are used to create heat. A reduction in air leakage lessens the heat needed to keep a building warm. Properties with uncontrolled air leakage also cause health issues. A building with poor ventilation and high air permeability is conducive for moisture and mould growth which can affect the inhabitant’s health. To “Construct tight, ventilate right” is the best practice. High levels of air leakage can lead to moisture ingress into the building fabric, resulting in expensive repair costs and potential health problems due to mould.

When Is an Air Tightness Test Needed?

A building should ideally be air tightness tested early in the construction process and again at the end of the building project, although sometimes only the final check is carried out. Newly completed constructions’ energy ratings can be influenced by the test results, as they are used in SAP and SBEM calculations. For big residential developments, the test is not required for each house. A group of diverse buildings are picked for the test. With selective testing there is a penalty of +2m3/h/m2; if the target score is 5 m3/h/m2 and selective testing was applied, the air tightness test would have to achieve a lower score of 3.

Where the dwelling has not been pressure tested, the assessed air permeability is the average test result obtained from other dwellings of the same dwelling type on the development, increased by +2.0 m3/h/m2 at 50 Pa. Because selective testing does not conduct tests for all buildings, a tested building might have a much higher air tight rate than an untested building; making it unreliable. The 2m3/h/m2 penalty added to untested buildings makes the air permeability rate hard to achieve.

Why Pick AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing?

With AF Acoustics, homes and businesses in Luton have been getting quality air tightness testing. Our clients highly recommend us for the following reasons.

Great service and expertise

Having served many clients in Luton, we have the expertise to work on any type or size of building. We’ll work with you to carry out our tests and consultations at times that are convenient to you, delivering an exceptional quality, convenient service. Our knowledgeable and dependable air testing experts will provide lasting solutions to your problem. Call AF Acoustics for your air tightness testing.

Registered Members of the Leading Air Tightness Body in the UK

We are registered with ATTMA, a professional body that focuses on high quality air tightness testing and air permeability applications. This means our services are endorsed by the leading air leakage testing body in the UK.

When Can You Call Us to Test Your Building?

We want to provide detailed air permeability testing in Luton for you whenever you need it. We offer responsive scheduling options. You can schedule for air tightness testing at your convenience. You won’t get delays or difficulties when scheduling.

Next-day Turnaround on Test Certificate Where Possible

AF Acoustics offers trustworthy and expert services. We know that clients want to receive their test results quickly. As a result, we endeavour to deliver test certificates by the next day.

Competitive Pricing

At AF Acoustics, we offer the most competitive prices in Luton to ensure you have access to affordable air tightness testing when you need it. We keep the costs down, as we are a small business with low overheads. This allows us to be competitive with our pricing whilst guaranteeing a professional service.

Call us today for a quote on 020 3372 4430
Or you can email us at info@af-acoustics.com

Air Tightness Tests for Any Kind of building in Luton

We conduct air permeability tests on residential and commercial buildings of all sizes and types. After the test, an ATTMA certificate is given to you. Air tightness test checks the extent of uncontrolled air moving through openings in the building envelope. The result of the air leakage test is expressed as a quantity in the form of The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. of a building envelope.

Approved Document L1A and L2A demands that buildings take tests for air leaks. The design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM of a construction records its required air permeability rate. While the law requires the highest air permeability rate to be 10m3/h/m2, your building might have to get a lower rate to meet the carbon emissions target. Several problems are caused by uncontrolled ventilation. They are:

  • Infiltration of cold air
  • Wind washing and thermal bypassing, which is when air moves through the inner building of a building fabric to create convective loops inside the walls, making the building less energy efficient
  • Reduction in heat and CO2 emission.

Exfiltration/infiltration of air is caused by a stack effect. Due to the pressure difference inside and outside the building, rising warm air reduces the pressure in the base of the building and draws in air, whether through open doors, windows or other openings and leakage points. Air tightness testing is required by law for domestic buildings to ensure energy efficiency and comfort within the home environment. It is also a legal requirement that all new builds have an air tightness test carried out to meet energy efficiency standards before it can get signed off by building control in Luton. Buildings where businesses are conducted will not cause discomfort to employees and clients because they have the legal air permeability rating. It will also help you reduce the cost of maintaining heating or cooling in your commercial building, making it more productive.

Part L Test Explained

Air tightness testing has been a mandatory part of the Building Regulations for new build and refurbishment projects since Approved Document L was revised in 2006. Air tightness can also be called air leakage or air permeability rate. Air leaks through gaps and spaces in the building fabric such as service penetrations, walls and roof junctions. Sometimes, this is not obvious to occupants. It is compulsory for all commercial buildings with a gross area greater than 500m2 and a representative selection of domestic buildings to undergo air pressure test, as stipulated by Part L of the Building Regulations. To adhere to Part L, make sure your building’s air permeability rate is not greater than 10m3/h/m2. Air leakage is vital to a building’s energy efficiency and is needed to meet Building Regulations Part L and carbon emission standards.

The Part F Test

We can complete all your Part F and Part L testing requirements. First, we provide extract fan flow rate and air leakage testing. Then we put you in contact with competent professional to work on your Energy Performance Certificates, SAP and water calculations.
New buildings should ensure that all mechanical extract fans are tested for flow rate, as stipulated by Part F of the Building Regulations. Your building won’t be signed off until Building Control Body (BCB) has been presented the results of the test. You can test, document and report the test of your building’s extractor fans in three ways. We use a vane anemometer, which is the third method called the minimum benchmark method, to conduct extract fan flow rate tests.


Different Ways We Test for Air Permeability

There are several levels of air leakage testing based on the kind, size and multifaceted aspects of a dwelling. Here they are: Level 1: Air pressure testing for single dwellings and other smaller non-dwellings up to 4000 m³ gross envelope volume, typically tested with a single blower door fan. Level Two: Single and multifaceted buildings 4000m3 gross envelope volume and above are tested for air pressure. High rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings are excluded from this level. Level Three: At this level, tests for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings.

Domestic Buildings Testing as Required by Approved Document L1

An air leakage test is a test to determine the level of uncontrolled air flow through gaps or cracks in the fabric of a building. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of m3 per hour, per square metre of building fabric. Part L1A of Building Regulations stipulates that such tests be conducted. Your building may need a lower rate to meet the CO2 discharge target. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. An excessive amount of air leakage results in greater energy expenses, heat reduction and carbon dioxide emissions.

We Offer Air Leakage Testing of Business Buildings to Meet Approved Document L2A Standard

The measurement of air emitted by a building is tested to ascertain air permeability rating. The air leakage test result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building. Air pressure testing is compulsory, according to Approved Document L2A. The maximum air permeability rate for a dwelling tested is 10m3/h/m2. Your building may need a lower air permeability rate to meet the SAP or SBEM assessment. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. An excessive amount of air leakage leads to greater energy expenses, heat reduction, carbon dioxide discharge and draughts.

Air Leakage Test of Smoke Shafts for Auto Vents

We undertake smoke shaft integrity testing to confirm that the shaft is sufficiently air tight in order to allow the automatic opening ventilation to perform as required when it is fitted and commissioned. Automatic opening vents help storey buildings dispel smoke when there is a fire. An air tight shaft creates sufficient pressure difference and ensures that the fans and vents perform properly to draw out smoke from a dwelling and save its occupants. AF Acoustics aims for the air permeability requirements of the automatic opening vent producers, so that their product can perform optimally. An air pressure test is taken for the smoke shaft by installing a fan inside. Then the openings are sealed off in all its parts so that the shaft can be thoroughly examined. Smoke shaft tests occur before installing and commissioning automatic opening ventilation.

We Offer Extraction Fan Testing

With the legal requirement for buildings that have the right quantity of air pressure, adequate ventilation that is suitable, effective and of high quality has become crucial. We test fan extraction rates. This test is required by law and it enables a building have a high-quality ventilation system that is efficient and removes pollutants and odours while limiting humidity in rooms, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Another of such targets, as stated by Part F, is to have the standard intermittent extractor fans, like kitchen and bathroom extractors, in new constructions measured for air flow and results given to Building Control before the construction work is completed.

Explicit Test and Building Preparation Process

When a building is checked for the quantity of air flowing through the gaps in the fabric, it has undergone an air tightness test. The air tightness of a building improves its energy efficiency and internal environment.

Holes and spaces in a building’s fabric might be hidden by the internal building finishes, making them hard to find. To ensure that the air tightness of a building is optimal, gaps and spaces in the building have to be found and measured.

Under the new policies of building developments, the lowest number of domestic buildings developers have to test in an area is 20%. However, this depends on the quantity of different house kinds to ensure there is a regular sample throughout the survey. We recommend that all dwellings be tested, as there is a penalty for developments that are not tested.

Pre-Test Requirements

Our test engineers require the drawings (plans and elevations) and target air permeability requirements of your building before taking the test. The test engineers would like to have the information needed for the test before coming to your development. Our air leakage test is done between 30 and 60 minutes, and the wind speed is a maximum of 6m/s. An air tight environment should be created in your building before the test to ensure optimal results. Do the following:

  • Turning off all range stoves and cookers (if applicable)
  • Turning off mechanical vents
  • Shutting all windows and external doors
  • Sealing ventilation grids and smoke vents
  • Filling the drainage stops

Building Envelope Measurement

Before coming to the site, we get the measurement of the building’s envelope. The building envelope, is the physical barrier between the exterior and interior of a construction. The building envelope calculations are taken from the drawings and used for our air tightness testing.

Air Permeability & The Envelope Area

It is defined as air leakage rate per hour per square metre of envelope area at the test reference pressure differential of 50 pascals (50n/m2). The envelope area, or measured part of the building, is the total area of all floors, walls and ceilings bordering the internal volume that is the subject of the pressure test. This includes walls and floors below external ground level. Overall internal dimensions are used to calculate this envelope area and no subtractions are made for the area of the junctions of internal walls, floors and ceilings with exterior walls, floors and ceilings.

Air Changes Per Hour

Air exchange rate is vital to ventilation design but it isn’t used as the determinant of the actual design or calculation. The calculation of residential ventilation rates is dependent on the area of the homes and number of occupants.

Evaluating a Cold Roof Envelope Area

Measuring if the roof area and ground floor area of a building are the same is vital. A cold roof is a roof that has its insulation in the ceiling and there’s a huge space between the insulation and rafters.

Warm Roof Construction Envelope Area Calculation

In a warm roof, an air barrier is inside the insulation which runs on the pitched roof rafters. In the warm part of the insulation, is the barrier between the conditioned and unconditioned space.

Building Preparation

  • Open and secure all internal doors;
  • Close all windows;
  • Switch off all mechanical ventilation systems;
  • Seal vents;
  • Close smoke vents;
  • Fill all drainage traps; check weather conditions (wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure);

Site Test Procedure

Measure the weather conditions. Check the temperature, barometric pressure and wind speed. Place the fan on an aperture within the building envelope. Fix the instrument for testing. Using the fan, measure the air flow volume, from the building fabric. Increase the speed of the fan slowly till it gets to 55-60Pa. The pressure differences in the building at each fan speed should be calculated.

Measuring air leakage

We analyse the recorded air tightness test data and present the results to the client in a technical report. In the event of test failure, we advise the client on appropriate mitigation measures. Our expert knowledge will help in highlighting the areas of air leakage. Air Tightness Testing and Compliance

A low leakage building that is properly ventilated, whether natural, hybrid or mechanical, is very beneficial. The benefits are: Reduced heating expenses because of lower heat loss, with less need for equipment that has high heating ability. A functional ventilation system Less mould will be trapped in the building fabric as a result of less moisture. Infiltration of air is reduced and the inhabitants are more comfortable. Our clients can expect a stress-free conformity to Part L Building Regulations standards, whether they have a single building or a large commercial building. Not only do we provide services that meet building regulation targets, when you employ our services, you’ll save money and spend less in the long run. We test for air permeability, provide consultancy services and support services and review the designs of all buildings, whether domestic or commercial, large or small.


Good and Best Practice Standards

Building Regulation Part L1A 2010 stipulates that all new buildings must have low air permeability. Reduced power usage and fuel conservation are important; that’s why the rule was put in place. Part L1A has demanded that all new dwellings be tested for air leaks in line with other regulations.

Determining Air Leakage in buildings (Dwellings), According to Technical Standard L1

ATTMA has specified technical standards that must be adhered to while testing buildings in the UK, according to building regulations and other documents. BS EN 13829:2001 and ISO 9972:2015 are clarified by the technical standards. The technical standards provide rules that ensure testing organisations get the same results from the same kind of tests and are based on BS EN 13829 “Thermal Performance of Buildings. Determination of air permeability of buildings. Fan pressurisation method” and ISO 9972:2015, “Thermal performance of buildings – Determination of permeability of buildings – Fan pressurization method”.

Call us today for a quote on 020 3372 4430
Or you can email us at info@af-acoustics.com

Building Regulation for England and Wales, Part L 2010

If you are constructing a dwelling the Approved Document L1A states that you must perform an air pressure test. Where there are two or more new buildings in an area, conduct a test on 50% of all examples of a kind of dwelling or 3 units of a dwelling kind. A development with only two dwellings may not undergo a test if a suggested value of 15m3/h/m2 is stipulated in the DER/TER measurements. Your SAP assessor will be able to confirm if this is the case for your dwelling. The method for testing required by the building regulations is stated in ATTMA TSL1 (for dwellings) and ATTMA TSL2 (for non-dwellings). Non-Dwellings and residential buildings are required to test for air leakage. Non-dwellings with a typical floor area less than 500m2 may be exempt. Where testing is not carried out, an assessed air permeability of 15 m3/h/m2 must be used in calculations.

Building Regulation Requirements Part L (England and Wales)

Most competent air pressure testing companies go through the ATTMA scheme, which began in January 2015, etence. The scheme is endorsed by the government and recognised by approved documents L1 and L2 of building regulations. Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) and National Occupation Standard (NOS) documents are the basis for the scheme.

Air tightness testers can be divided into three categories

  • Air tightness testing for single buildings and smaller non-dwellings not more than 4000m3 is done with a fan.
  • Level 2: Testers can test all buildings except large, complex and or high-rise buildings and or phased handover or zonal buildings unless part of a team managed by a level 3 tester.
  • The third level expert tests big and complex zonal and phased buildings and complex high-rise buildings.

Air Tightness Test Report

Test reports are issued by registered and licensed air tightness companies who test buildings of different sizes and complexities. First, extraction fans are closed. Then, the details and results of the tests are written down in a report. The report will be produced in accordance with company’s procedures, the relevant standards and the requirements of all relevant governing bodies.

Outcome of Air Leak Test

We analyse our tests and results for any divergence from the standards required and check the air pressure rate against target rate. That way, our results are expressed in line with test standards. Clients’ test reports contain their names, construction, address; the tester’s name is also included. We will state if your building has passed or failed the test and give advice on the actions you need to take if another test is needed.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

Before our test engineers arrive at the site, please adhere to what is written below and send the required air tightness target of your dwelling that is in the design to us.

Air Permeability Pathway List – We will inspect every part for the building envelope for leaks.

  • Windows: Examine the seal below the sills and around the frames.
  • Doors: Inspect the seal around all external door surrounds. This is more applicable to French doors.
  • Drainage traps: Make sure they’re not filled with water.
  • Skirting and coving: Examine every part and seal where needed.
  • Meter Boxes: Make sure the external supplies are properly covered.
  • Light Fittings: Inspect the seal around all light fittings and switches.
  • Radiators/Fans /Heaters: Check the seal on pipes and wires.
  • Boilers: Inspect the seal around the boiler supply and flue.
  • Extractor Fans: Inspect the edge of the extracts and seal the front of the grill.
  • Cooker Hoods: Examine the seals around all penetrations.
  • Soil pipes: Inspect the seal around all soil pipes and sink waste pipes especially those inside or behind kitchen cupboards.
  • Bath Panels: Make sure all the pipes behind bath panels are sealed properly.
  • Hot water tank: Examine the seal around supply pipes.
  • MVHR: Examine seal around all terminals.
  • Chimneys: Cover the open fireplaces.
  • Junction between floor and wall under kitchens and baths
  • Tumble drier extracts: Study the seal around the extract.

We Provide Temporary Sealing – the following should be temporarily sealed during the test;

  • Trickle Vents: Should be closed.
  • Extractor Fans / MVHR terminals: All extracts should be temporarily sealed (Please ensure these are off before sealing).
  • Cooker Hoods: Should be sealed from the outside or inside.
  • Chimney Flues and Air Bricks: Should be temporarily sealed.

Air Tightness Testing FAQ’s

Air leakage is the uncontrolled flow of air through gaps and cracks in the fabric of a building (sometimes called infiltration or draughts).

This is not to be confused with ventilation. Which is the controlled flow of air into and out of the building through purpose-built ventilators that are required for the comfort and safety of occupants.

Too much air leakage leads to unnecessary heat loss and discomfort to the occupants from cold draughts.

At AF Acoustics, we will endeavour to help you identify air leakage/infiltration paths.

There are a number of methods we employ to do this, including:

  • Smoke pens– smoke can be used to identify where air is moving when the building is being tested
  • Depressurise the building –By depressurising the building air is drawn in and can be felt at the air leakage points, our experience will be able to pin point these locations easily, whist the building is being depressurised, we will be able to show you around and will point you to the areas that have air leakage. You will usually be able to feel the air blowing on your skin when you are close to leakage areas, using the smoke pens these leakage points can be seen as the smoke changes from a steady flow to a turbulent flow.
  • Smoke testing – if the air paths are less direct it may be necessary to use smoke puffers and/or fill the building with smoke and pressurise/depressurise again. Points of air ingress and egress should be identifiable.
  • Thermography – if it is still not apparent where air is escaping, infra-red cameras can be used to identify hot spots and cold spots on the internal and external surfaces of the building. This requires a temperature difference between the inside and outside.

In the vast majority of cases the first two methods are sufficient to identify the most significant air leakage paths along with our expertise we will be able to point our the problem areas should they arise. The air leakage areas will have to permanently sealed and the test repeated to reduce the air permeability of the building. Where problems are larger and sealing cannot be addressed on the day, the building may need to be re-tested at a later date.

A test certificate from The Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA)

A testing procedure is to be carried out to comply with TSL1 for domestic or TSL2 for commercial. The test certificate will include sufficient information to describe the building tested e.g. location, type and size (the envelope area is an important component in calculating the air permeability and must be accurate) plus the design air permeability as well as the actual result. A testing procedure should be representative of the actual building performance.

An indicative result is available at the time of testing. Certificates can be issued within a day of testing.

If required, you can request all calculations including pre, and post environmental measurements, individual static pressures, envelope area breakdown, flow readings and calibration certificates at no extra charge.

Air permeability is essentially a function of the pressure difference between the inside and outside of the building and the air flow rate through the fan(s), necessary to produce a pressure difference. This is averaged out over the envelope area. The result takes account of environmental conditions.

The final air permeability at 50 Pa is based on a logarithmic graph of pressure difference and flow rate, the graph should:

  • Have at least 7 points (ideally 10 or more).
  • At least one building pressure >50Pa and at least on <50Pa, No building pressures >100Pa.
  • The lowest figure should be at least 10 Pa or 5 times the ‘static pressure’ (the pressure difference between inside and outside without the fans)
  • The readings should be no more than 10 Pa apart.
  • The correlation coefficient r2 >0.98
  • The gradient of the graph (n) should be between 0.5 and 1.0.

These are aspects that the building control should check carefully if choosing to accept air permeability results from non-accredited testing bodies.

Most air tightness tests for domestic units and simple commercial units are carried out in 45 – 60 minutes. This time may be extended if the test fails and leakage paths are investigated. We will normally charge for a retest depending on how much work is to be carried out.

On larger commercial units, which require 1 large air test fan, air tests take 1 hour if all temporary sealing has been completed prior to starting the air test.

If complicated or very large buildings are being air tested with multiple fan units, allow up to 4 hours for the test and longer if investigations are required.

The envelope area is calculated from the drawings and verified on site. The envelope of the building is all the surfaces that separate the heated interior from the unheated exterior of the dwelling. This includes walls, floors and the roof.

Generally, this involves mounting a door profile and incorporating one or more electrical fans into an external door opening(s). Depending on their orientation, the fans can be used to pressurise or depressurise the building. The resulting difference between the external and internal pressure can be used to calculate the permeability of the building envelope (given that the envelope area is known).

This permeability is an indicator of how air tight the building is, and whether there are openings in the envelope. Generally, 10 differential pressure points are taken at different fan flows to establish an accurate result for the building. Our certified specialised software is used to establish an accurate Air Tightness Test result.

Our experts at AF Acoustics will provide a simple checklist for building preparation, which includes the following:

  • The building should be ‘completed’
  • All external doors and windows closed
  • All internal doors wedged open
  • All fire dampers, ventilation louvres and trickle vents closed but not sealed
  • Mechanical ventilation turned off with inlet/outlet grilles sealed
  • All combustion appliances switched off
  • Drainage traps must contain water
  • Any ‘Aga’ type stoves must be switched off for a minimum of 24 hours prior to testing

All building preparations should be made before our test engineers arrive on the site this will ensure a smooth testing process and increase your dwelling’s chances of passing the test the first time. We will seal all the vents ourselves.

For multiple dwellings it may also be necessary to agree on the test programme with the building inspector before arriving on site.

Where possible, it is helpful to accurately calculate the envelope area and confirm the fan installation arrangements based on architectural drawings before coming to the site.

  1. How many plots are going to be tested
  2. The location
  3. The plans and elevation drawings, cross sections if possible
  4. The air permeability target
  5. A brief description of the property; e.g. does it have fireplace or a loft?

For dwellings, sufficient information is required to identify the different dwelling types and the number of each such as General Arrangement/Site Plan and Schedule (including other important details such as variation in storey height or construction method).

For buildings other than dwellings, the approximate envelope area is the key factor for quoting. It is required to establish the necessary fan arrangement. This affects the time on site and potentially the number of people, and this can be calculated from drawings – floor plans and elevations.

The testing body may also need to identify the potential aperture(s) into which test equipment is to be installed. In some circumstances this may require additional time on site, extra people or customised templates.

Approved Document L states that Building Control can accept evidence from BINDT or ATTMA Registered testers. However, the BINDT scheme was closed down at the end of 2014, subsequent to the last revision of Approved Document L. Additionally, The Independent Air Tightness Testing Scheme (iATS) is an authorised Competent Persons Scheme created for companies (including sole traders and partnerships) that carry out Air Tightness Testing.

The common leakage sites are:

All pipe works within the kitchen and bathrooms

  • Holes in the walls
  • Radiator pipe work penetrations in floors and walls
  • Sanitary pipes penetrating walls and floors
  • Junction between floor and wall under kitchens and baths
  • Junction lower floor / vertical wall
  • Junction window sill / vertical wall
  • Junction window lintel / vertical wall
  • Junction window reveal / vertical wall (horizontal view)
  • Vertical wall (cross section)
  • Perforation vertical wall
  • Junction top floor / vertical wall
  • Penetration of top floor
  • Junction French window / vertical wall
  • Junction inclined roof / vertical wall
  • Penetration inclined roof
  • Junction inclined roof / roof ridge
  • Junction inclined roof / window
  • Junction rolling blind / vertical wall
  • Junction intermediate floor / vertical wall
  • Junction exterior door lintel / vertical wall
  • Junction exterior door sill / sill
  • Penetration lower floor / crawlspace or basement
  • Junction service shaft / access door
  • Junction internal wall / intermediate floor

Our team of experts can support you through the following

  • Tender Stage – Estimate pricing structures and general advice
  • Design Stage – Desktop or site-based design team meetings
  • During Construction – Ongoing audits of the building, Building Control liaison, sample testing of completed areas of ‘comfort testing’ prior to final testing
  • Upon completion – preparation advice, shortly prior to the air testing, final testing and leakage diagnosis

Additional AF Acoustics services – including noise survey, sound insulation testing services noise impact assessments

Employing the services of a reputable and accredited air tightness testing consultant, such as AF Acoustics, can help identify and remedy potential problem details in a building design prior to and during construction.

The Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA) is approved by Department for Communities and Local Governments (DCLG) and is listed in the Building Regulations as an authorised Competent Persons Scheme for air tightness testing.

As an ATTMA registered company, AF Acoustics is independently certified by ATTMA with a scope covering air tightness testing to the ATTMA Technical Standards (TSL1 & TSL2) and BS EN: 13829 (2001), demonstrating knowledge and understanding, which enables us to test both commercial and domestic developments in accordance with relevant building regulations.

Part L sets the energy efficiency standards required by the Building Regulations. It controls:

  • The insulation values of building elements
  • The allowable area of windows, doors and other openings
  • Air permeability of the building
  • The heating efficiency of boilers
  • The insulation and controls for heating appliances and systems together with hot water storage and lighting efficiency

It also sets out the requirements for SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) Calculations and Carbon Emission Targets for dwellings. In addition to insulation requirements and limitations of openings of the building fabric.
Part L also considers:

  • Solar heating and heat gains to buildings
  • Heating, mechanical ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • Lighting efficiency
  • Space heating controls
  • Air permeability
  • Solar emission
  • The certification, testing and commissioning of heating and ventilation systems
  • Requirements for energy metres

Building Regulations are administered separately in England, Scotland and Wales.

The objective is to measure the volume of conditioned air escaping through the building envelope via uncontrolled ventilation at an induced pressure difference of 50 Pa. A simplified process is shown below:

  • Check site preparation / Prepare site – including temporary sealing.
  • Calculate the envelope area.
  • Take environmental condition measurements – wind speed, temperatures, barometric pressures.
  • Install door frame canvas for the fan into a suitable aperture(s), usually the front door.
  • Install fan(s) into frame canvas
  • Connect monitoring equipment.
  • Check the static pressure.
  • Take multiple pressure difference readings and record fan flow rate(s) – allowing sufficient time for the pressure readings to stabilise.
  • Check the static pressure.
  • Process the readings through appropriate software – check that readings fulfil the requirements of the standard.
  • If the building fails, attempt to identify/quantify air leakage/infiltration paths.
  • Disconnect measurement equipment.
  • Remove the fan(s).
  • Remove the door frame canvas.

No. However due to the penalties occurred to the air permeability value of non-tested properties, every property is usually tested. We can test all dwellings, including domestic buildings, industrial units, warehouses, schools, hospitals, residential care homes, hotels, offices, and retail units.

All new buildings and dwellings should be tested, but there are some exceptions and they are explained below:

  • ‘Small’ commercial buildings (with a floor area less than 500m2) may avoid the need to test by accepting an assumed poor value for air permeability (15m³/(h.m²) at 50 Pa) but this may add costs to other aspects of the building specification so that the building meets the overall target for emissions.

No. Air tightness testing applies to:

  • All new dwellings (based on a sampling rate)
  • All new buildings other than dwellings
  • Extensions to existing buildings that create new dwellings

Air tightness is an important factor in assessing the overall carbon emission of a building via the appropriate calculation methodology:

When a building is air tight, the amount of fuel needed to heat it is reduced. This conserves fuel and reduces the carbon dioxide produced, thereby lowering carbon emission and energy bills.

If you are building a new domestic property or commercial property of a certain size, it will need to undergo air tightness testing. This assesses the building for ‘air permeability’, checking for air leakage through gaps, holes and other areas. The Government has SAP (Standard Assessment Procedures) in place for air tightness testing, setting standards buildings must comply with to be energy efficient.

All residential properties and non-dwellings properties over a certain size (with a floor area greater than 500 m2) must undergo air tightness testing. With larger developments, a sample number of the buildings must be tested, depending on the size and construction of the properties. However, in practice all dwellings are likely to be tested, as non-testing attracts a severe penalty.

In a property where air tightness is below the recommended standard, the following problems can occur:

  • heat loss
  • discomfort (cold homes)
  • increased heating bills (to counter the cold)
  • greater CO² emissions (as result of additional heating required)

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Gerard Finn

AF Acoustics lead air tightness testing Specialist, Gerard is your first port of call for all air tightness questions enquiries and surveys.