ATTMA Licensed Air Tightness Testing in Buckinghamshire

The measurement of air escaping from a building is called air tightness testing. It is also referred to as air permeability testing or air pressure testing. Air tightness testing became an integral part of building regulations for new buildings, commercial developments and revamped buildings in 2006 after Document L was reviewed.

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. We are a dedicated and approved air leakage testing service in Buckinghamshire and we can provide air permeability measurement whenever you require. We also provide Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing, assessments and consultancy services.

As registered members of the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association, our air leakage test certificate is accepted as evidence for Building Regulations sign-off. We are professionals who take the time to explain the testing process, we are able to give informed advice on where problem areas may occur during testing, and how improvements can be made based on results of air pressure testing. AF Acoustics provides services that are cost effective and of high standard.

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 It Means

When a building is assessed during an air tightness test; the internal thermal envelope of the building is examined for leakages and the quantity of air passing through it. Air tightness testing is also known as air pressure testing or air leakage 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. Draughts are uncontrolled ventilation. Using air tightness testing, the total air lost can be estimated. Unrestrained air movement leads to heat reduction, making the inhabitants of the building uncomfortable. Air leakage from buildings causes heat loss, more energy is then used to keep the building warm, this is a cause of excess CO2 emissions. This has resulted in regulations which are centred on decreasing air leaks from the building fabric, therefore lowering CO2 emissions. Air tightness testing is vital in determining the energy efficiency of a new building, air leakage and the build quality. With the introduction of tougher regulations, building designs will often consider air tightness at the early stages of the construction process, ensuring attention to detail during construction to create an air-tight envelope. This can make a building more energy efficient since air leakage is under control. It will also be cost effective and of high quality.

What Air Leakage Is

This occurs when openings in a building lead to excess air flow into and out of the building. Also called infiltration, it differs from ventilation which is the regular, planned and restrained flow of air into a building. It may cause uncontrolled influx of air during frosty and windy weather. This reduces the temperature of the building, making the occupants uncomfortable. Air leakage testing plays a significant role in the energy-saving efficacy of properties. With air tightness testing, you can be sure that the building has met the stipulated targets used for energy calculation and air tightness. In 2006, air tightness of newly constructed buildings and non-dwellings with a floor area over 500m² became compulsory in England and Wales.

The Impact of Air Leakage

Air leakage leads to a reduction in heat. During windy or cold weather, the infiltration of uncontrolled air through cracks in a building envelope occurs, leading to heat reduction. As cold seeps inside, warm moist air escapes through the cracks and gaps in the building. Some of it settles within the building’s fabric. 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. The strength of the outer wooden covering is drastically reduced because it is wet.

These problems will eventually cause structural harm to the building.
Other damages that can occur are cold homes which make occupants uncomforta-ble, increase in heating bills to make the internal temperature warmer, and more carbon dioxide discharge since additional heat is required.

These effects can be mitigated by controlling the circulation of air 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. Correct ventilation is important, whether it is passive or active, to remove water vapour, unwanted moisture odour and pollutants.


The Importance of Air Tightness Test

Air tightness is an integral element of energy efficiency. It is part of government’s plan to overcome climate change through advancements in the energy performance of buildings. Fossil fuel is burnt to heat up a building. This leads to a discharge of carbon dioxide which increases global warming. A reduction in air leakage lessens the heat needed to keep a building warm. Uncontrolled air leakage also results in health problems. Coupled with poor air circulation, it leads to the growth of mould and mildew. The best advice is to “Construct tightly, ventilate properly”. Air leakage causes infiltration of moisture into the building envelope, leading to health issues and high repair costs.

Recommended Period for Air Tightness Test

Best practice dictates that you complete an air tightness test early in the build process, and then again after the construction process is completed; although not all builds have the first test phase. The results of the test can affect a building’s energy ratings because they play a part in SBEM and SAP calculations. Large residential areas do not need each building to be tested. Instead, different types of dwellings are tested. Selective testing has a penalty of +2m3/h/m2. If target score is 5m3/h/m2, air tightness test score will have to be 3m3/h/m2.

If the building has not been tested for air tightness, assessed air permeability rate is the average result of similar buildings in the area +2m3/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 AF Acoustics Is the Right Choice for Your Air Tightness Testing

Business owners and home owners in Buckinghamshire have been helped by AF Acoustics air tightness testing. Our customers highly recommend us to other people due to the following benefits.

Service and knowledge

Our vast experience in serving a variety of clients in Buckinghamshire guarantees we have the expertise to satisfy your needs regardless your unique circumstances, type or size of property. Our air tightness experts are certified, well-mannered and competent. They’re trained to deliver a quality service, working as an extension of your project. If you need knowledgeable and trustworthy air leakage experts who can provide exemplary results, AF Acoustics is the team you need in Buckinghamshire.

We Are Registered Members of the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA)

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.

Picking a Time for Your Air Permeability Test

We want to provide detailed air permeability testing in Buckinghamshire 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 for Certificates

In order to satisfy our clients, AF Acoustics strives to provide test results and certificates on the next day.

Affordable Fees

AF Acoustics fees are lower since we’re a company with low overheads. Our services are professional and we offer affordable prices in Buckinghamshire.

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

We Conduct Tests for All Types of Buildings in Buckinghamshire

Whatever the type and size of a domestic or commercial building in Buckinghamshire, AF Acoustics’ experts can test it for air permeability and issue an ATTMA certificate afterwards. Air tightness test checks the extent of uncontrolled air moving through openings in the building envelope. The results are written as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. of a building envelope.

Air tightness testing is recommended by Approved Document L1A and L2A. Each building tested must achieve a maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2. In order to comply with the carbon emission target, it may be necessary to achieve a lower air permeability rate. The required air permeability rate for each building can be found on the design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM for that building. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and discomfort. It can also create convective loops within a building; this is often referred to as thermal bypassing and wind washing. Infiltration/exfiltration is the effect of air pressure difference. Warm air rises while cold air falls. The warm air within a building rises and air pressure at the base falls; this results in air coming in through doors, windows and leakage points. To get signed off by building control in Buckinghamshire, all buildings are to undergo air tightness testing and measure up to the required energy efficiency standards. For your commercial building, air tightness testing will ensure your staff and clients are in a comfortable environment. This increases the company’s productivity and lowers heating and cooling expenses.

Part L Test

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. The air-tightness of a building is known as its ‘air permeability’ or leakage rate. Although not always seen, air leakage can occur through any gap, space or crack in a building’s fabric. The Building Regulations (Part L) demand that a selected group of different kinds of residential constructions and all non-domestic buildings greater than 500m2 perform air leakage tests. To comply with Part L the measured air permeability minimum requirement is 10m3/h/m2 but usually your air permeability target will be much lower. Air tightness is important for meeting the Building Regulations Part L standards, exceeding requirements for low carbon buildings, and overall energy efficiency.

A Description of Part F Test

We can complete all your Part F and Part L testing requirements. Not only will we conduct your air tightness test and extract fan flow rate test, we will also recommend experts who can handle your SAP calculations, water calculations and Energy Performance Certificates satisfactorily.
New buildings should ensure that all mechanical extract fans are tested for flow rate, as stipulated by Part F of the Building Regulations. The Building Control Body (BCB) has to see the results of the test as part of its sign-off procedure. Examining, documenting and submitting reports of extract fans’ test can be done using three methods. Use method 3 – the minimum benchmark method, which tests extractor fans with vane anemometers. This is our testing procedure.


Forms of Air Pressure Testing Services We Provide

There are different levels of air tightness testing established from the size and complexity of a building. An overview of each is provided below: 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. Air tightness testing for dwellings more than 4000m3, except big phased handover/zonal and high rise (LCHR) constructions is done. Third Level – Testing is done for large high rise and phased handover buildings.

Approved Document L1 Air Pressure Testing of Houses

Air tightness testing determines the extent of air leaking out a building’s envelope. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of m3 per hour, per square metre of building fabric. Document L1A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. A lower air permeability rate might be needed due to carbon emission requirements. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Air leakage leads to heat loss, increased energy bills, greater CO2 emissions, and an uncomfortable atmosphere for inhabitants due to draughts.

Air Tightness Testing of Commercial Buildings to Meet Approved Document L2A Requirements

Air pressure testing involves the calculation of air escaping through the openings in a building. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of air pressure (m3 per hour) per square metre of building fabric. Part L2A of Building Regulations has demanded that such tests be conducted. 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. The air permeability target can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Uncontrolled air leakage can cause several problems. They are: infiltration of cold air, discomfort, reduction in heat, and higher CO2 emission rate.

We Offer Smoke Shaft Air Pressure Testing

We provide smoke shaft tests to make sure it is air tight enough to let the automatic opening ventilation work optimally when it’s installed and commissioned. Automatic opening vents are crucial during fire emergencies in storey buildings, as they clear out smoke from the buildings. The performance of the fans and vents depends on the air tightness of the shaft. Air tight shafts have enough pressure difference to extract smoke and save people inside a building during fire emergencies. We work towards air permeability targets set by the automatic-opening ventilation manufacturers that allow their equipment to operate effectively. Fans are placed in the smoke shaft to conduct an air tightness test. The intended openings of the shaft (i.e. extract point and openings for ventilation grilles on each floor) are sealed off for the test so that the integrity of the shaft itself can be determined. Once the test is completed and successful, the automatic opening vents are installed.

Air Flow Measurement of Domestic Ventilation (extraction fan testing)

Buildings that are well insulated and air tight are the standard for buildings. As a result, a high-quality ventilation system that is adequate and performs as required is vital. We are able to test extraction rates. This is done to meet the Building Regulations standard. Make sure the ventilation system is efficient, expels pollutants and odours, and reduces humidity, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Part F states that all new constructions must have intermittent extractor fans whose air flow rates will be calculated and the results given to Building Control before the building work is finished.

Precise Air Pressure Test and Building Procedure

When a building is checked for the quantity of air flowing through the gaps in the fabric, it has undergone an air tightness test. Improving the air tightness of a building not only enhances the comfort of the occupants, but can also increases the building’s energy efficiency.

Gaps and cracks in the building that cause air leakage are often difficult to detect. They may be obscured by the internal building finishes. 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. Buildings that don’t undergo the test are penalised. All dwellings in a development should be tested to ensure optimum air tightness.

What You Need to Do Before Undertaking the Test

Clients should send the drawings (plans and elevations) and air permeability requirements to our engineers. This is to have the needed information for the building and to know the size of the building envelope before coming to the site. Air tightness testing lasts for 30 to 60 minutes and wind speed is not more than 6m/s. To prepare the site for the test, do the following:

  • Shut the windows
  • Close the smoke vents
  • Open and secure all inner doors
  • Put off the mechanical vents
  • Close ventilation
  • Fill drainage traps
  • Put off range cookers/stoves a day before the test (if applicable)

Building Envelope Measurement

We undertake building envelope measurements before getting to the dwelling for the test. A building envelope is the boundary between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building. The calculations, which are extracted from the drawings, are fed into our estimations when testing your building for air leaks.

Air Barrier Envelope Area

Air permeability, according to Approved Document L1A (2010), has to do with “air leakage rate per hour per square metre of envelope area at the test reference pressure differential of 50 pascals (50n/m2)”. The building’s envelope area has to do with the total area of all the floors, walls, and ceilings bordering the internal environment, including those below external ground level. These include shared walls, floors and ceilings in storey buildings. Internal dimensions are used to measure the envelope area.

Air Exchange Rate

Air exchange rate is vital to ventilation design but it isn’t used as the determinant of the actual design or calculation. To calculate ventilation rates for domestic buildings, the area and number of people living in the building are considered.

Calculating the Envelope Area of a Cold Roof

It is important to make sure the roof area and ground floor area of a building are equal. A cold roof has the insulation at the horizontal ceiling level and a large void or space between the insulation and the pitched roof rafters.

Measuring a Warm Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

A warm roof is a roof where the insulation is installed on top of the roof structure. The envelope area is the boundary between the internal environment and external environment (adjacent buildings), and can be found on the insulation’s warm part.

Getting the Building Ready

  • Temporarily seal and switch off all ventilation grids, smoke vents and mechanical ventilation systems
  • Close the windows and internal doors
  • Seal drainage traps.

Site Test Process

Check weather conditions (wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure); Fix a fan to an aperture, usually the door, in the building. Set up the equipment for air tightness testing. Record the air volume flow through the fan (this equals the air leaking through the building envelope). Gradually increase the speed of the fan to a maximum of 55-60Pa. Record pressure differences across the building at each fan speed.

Evaluating 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 Leakage Testing and Compliance

When a building has the right kind of ventilation (mechanical, natural or a combination of both) and has a low permeability rate, the advantages to the occupants are numerous. Some of them are: Reduced heating expenses because of lower heat loss, with less need for equipment that has high heating ability. A functional ventilation system Reduced chance of mould and rot, as moisture is less likely to become trapped Infiltration of air is reduced and the inhabitants are more comfortable. Our air leakage tests are conducted according to building regulations and targets, whether we’re testing a small dwelling or big commercial development. 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.


Best Practice Processes

Building Regulation Part L1A 2010 stipulates that all new buildings must have low air permeability. This regulation was put in place to conserve fuel and power. Part L1A states that any new building must undergo an air pressure test, according to present regulations.

Testing for Air Permeability on Building Fabrics, According to L1 Technical Standard.

Certain technical standards are to be employed during air pressure test in the UK, as specified by ATTMA, building regulations and other documents. The technical standards ensure that all companies have similar testing procedures. They are:

  • “Thermal Performance of Buildings. Determination of air permeability of buildings. Fan pressurisation method” BS EN 13829:2001, and
  • “Thermal performance of buildings – Determination of permeability of buildings – Fan pressurization method” ISO 9972:2015
Call us today for a quote on 020 3372 4430
Or you can email us at info@af-acoustics.com

Part L 2010 Building Regulation Standards for England and Wales

If you’re constructing a new dwelling, you have to comply with Approved Document L1A’s stipulation to test it. 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. If there are no more than two new dwellings, using an assumed value of 15m3/h/m2 in the DET/TER calculations might exempt them from air tightness testing. Find out from your SAP assessor if this is applicable to you. The method for testing required by the building regulations is stated in ATTMA TSL1 (for dwellings) and ATTMA TSL2 (for non-dwellings). Both residential areas and many non-Dwellings are to take the air leakage test. Non-dwellings where floor area is less than 500 m2 or has an assumed assessed air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 in their calculations, may not have to undergo the air leakage test.

Part L Building Regulations Standards for England and Wales

In January 2015, the ATTMA Scheme for Competent Air Tightness Testing Firms and Their Testers (The ATTMA Scheme) was launched. It is an industry competence scheme authorised by the government and specified in Technical Standard L1 & L2. Its basis is the National Occupation Standard (NOS) and Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) documents standard for testing and essentials for testing knowledge.

Testers can be divided into three types

  • Air tightness testing for single buildings and smaller non-dwellings not more than 4000m3 is done with a fan.
  • The second level examines simple and complex buildings greater than 4000m3, with the exclusion of large zonal buildings and complex high-rise buildings unless a level three tester is in charge of the procedure.
  • Level Three: Testing for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings, phased handover/zonal buildings and other complex buildings is carried out by level three experts.

Report on Test for Air Permeability

Authorised companies, who test buildings of different types, sizes and complexities, give air tightness reports. The testing companies seal extraction fans. After the test has been completed, they record test findings and results in a report. The report is in line with the company’s testing process set by government regulations and all relevant governing bodies.

Test Results

Our test and subsequent results are conducted and written to meet standard requirements, highlight any deviation from the standards and crosscheck air pressure values against target values. Our reports correctly note the client, air tightness tester, building and address. Where applicable, we will identify pass or failure of your building and provide recommendations for any remedial action or improvement to the building if any further testing is required.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Dwelling

Please send your design air pressure figure to us and go through the list below before we arrive at your site.

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.

Temporarily cover the following;

  • Trickle Vents: Close them.
  • MVHR Terminal/Extract Fans: Switch off and seal temporarily.
  • Air Bricks and Chimney Flues: Cover temporarily.
  • Cooker Hoods: Seal off from the inside or outside.

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.