ATTMA Licensed Air Tightness Testing in Chorleywood

Air tightness testing, also known as air leakage testing or air permeability testing, establishes the rate at which air flows out of gaps in a building fabric. 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.

Revisions were made to building regulations to address air leakages – a process where air escapes through any opening in the building, affecting its energy efficiency. Our certificates are registered with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), an organisation that guarantees technical excellence in all air leakage measurement methods. Located in Chorleywood, our company is a committed and accredited air permeability testing service provider; we provide air testing services. 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 Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association, our air leakage test certificate is accepted as evidence for Building Regulations sign-off. If you want specialist air pressure testing services in Chorleywood, AF Acoustics’ tightness testing services will

  • Describe the process to you,
  • Highlight possible problem areas that might occur during testing,
  • Conduct the air tightness test, and
  • Give advice on improvements based on the outcome of the test.

Our services provide great value for money at high standards.

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

What is the Assessment of a Building’s Air Tightness?

Air tightness testing is carried out to determine the volume of air escaping from holes in a building fabric. Air leakage and air pressure are also used in place of air tightness. Air leakage should not be confused with ventilation. Also called draughts or infiltration, air leakage is unrestrained movement of air through holes in a building fabric, while ventilation is the restrained and planned movement of air. Air tightness testing is the recognised method used to measure total air lost through leaks in a building fabric. This is often referred to as uncontrolled ventilation (draughts). 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. 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. Building plans will often consider air tightness at the beginning stages of development so as to measure up to stricter building standards. Understanding this at an early stage can make a build cost-effective, of high quality, and energy efficient by minimising uncontrolled air leakage.

Air Leakage Explained

Air leakage occurs when air escapes through holes and gaps in a building. When the circulation of air is properly monitored and bridled, ventilation has occurred. Another name for air leakage is infiltration. Because of the nature of air leakage, excessive air infiltration might occur in a building when the weather is windy and chilly. This results in loss of warmth and an unpleasant cold draughts. How do you know if a building is energy efficient? By testing its air permeability. This lets the occupants know if the building meets standard air-tightness requirements. In England and Wales, air tightness testing has been obligatory since 2006. All new dwellings and non-dwellings over 500m² are to be tested for air permeability.

The Impact of Air Leakage

Air leakage causes heat loss. During windy weather, cold air infiltrates a building through the openings in its fabric. This results in heat loss. The infiltration of chilly air causes exfiltration, making warm air within the building escape through the spaces in other parts of the building. When moist air hits a cooler surface within a wall structure, water vapour in the air can condense and collect inside these spaces. Moisture can then be absorbed in building materials and cause serious defects. Wet wooden overlay or framing can decay, decreasing its durability.

These problems will eventually cause structural harm to the building.
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 Must We Do an 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. 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. There are also health issues associated with uncontrolled air leakage. When a building has poor levels of controlled ventilation and high levels of uncontrolled air leakage, this can cause excessive moisture and mould growth, leading to poor health. To “Construct tight, ventilate right” is the best practice. The result of uncontrollable air moving into the building fabric could be health problems and costly repairs.

When Is an Air Tightness Test Needed?

It is best practice to conduct at least two air tightness testing procedures, one early in the build and another at the end. The test results are part of SBEM and SAP calculations, therefore they influence the total energy ratings of new buildings. It’s not a necessity to perform tests on each property, rather, different kinds of houses are selected and 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.

The assessed air permeability of an untested residence is a calculation of the average test score of the same kind of dwelling in the development, increased by 2m3/h/m2 at 50 Pa. Selective testing is not advisable, as it does not give a realistic picture of the air tightness of each individual building. A tested property might be a lot tighter than an untested property. Also, the penalty implemented on the untested houses make air permeability rates very difficult to achieve.

The reasons Why You Should Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing

Business owners and home owners in Chorleywood have been helped by AF Acoustics air tightness testing. We are recommended by our clients for the following reasons.

Expert information and service

Due to years of experience in conducting air tightness testing in different kinds of buildings in Chorleywood, we have the skills to meet your needs no matter the type or size of your property. We have competent and accredited air testing professionals who provide a quality, convenient service. Do you need trustworthy professionals who will provide great results in Chorleywood? Contact AF Acoustics today.

Registered member of the Air Tightness Testing & Measurement Association (ATTMA)

We are registered members of the ATTMA, a professional association dedicated to promoting technical excellence in air tightness testing and air leakage measurement applications. This means our expertise and quality of services are recognised by the leading air tightness testing body in the UK.

When Can You Call Us to Test Your Building?

You can access our complete air tightness test in Chorleywood at anytime. Simply fix a convenient time for your building’s air permeability test. We offer responsive scheduling. You won’t get delays or difficulties when scheduling.

Next-day Turnaround on Test Certificate Where Possible

AF Acoustics offers a professional and reliable service; we understand that our clients are keen to get their test results as quickly as possible, to facilitate this process we strive to deliver next-day turnaround on test certificates.

Competitive Pricing

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

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

Air Permeability Testing for Different Kinds of Commercial and Domestic Dwellings in Chorleywood

All domestic and commercial buildings in Chorleywood can be tested by AF Acoustics, no matter how complex they are. The air tightness tests are carried out by competent testers and you will be issued an ATTMA certificate. Air permeability testing calculates how much air moves through spaces in your building’s fabric. The results are registered as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building.

Approved Document L1A and L2A demands that buildings take tests for air leaks. The maximum air permeability rate is 10m3/h/m2. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. This target can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM. With air leakage comes heat loss, greater CO2 discharge, draughts, thermal bypassing and wind washing and poor energy performance. Warm air within a heated building rises and lowers the pressure at the building’s base to draw in air through the openings in the building fabric, leading to exfiltration or infiltration. To get signed off by building control in Chorleywood, all buildings are to undergo air tightness testing and measure up to the required energy efficiency standards. Buildings where businesses are conducted will not cause discomfort to employees and clients because they have the legal air permeability rating. The company also gets reduced heating and cooling costs and higher productivity rates.

Part L Test

Air tightness testing is a Building Regulations obligation for new buildings, commercial developments and revamped buildings. This was put into effect in 2006 after Document L was reappraised. Other names for air tightness are air permeability rate 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. The maximum air permeability rating allowed is 10m3/h/m2, but your building might need a lower rating ts. Air permeability is key in the following areas: i. A construction’s energy performance, ii. CO2 emission targets iii. Building Regulations Part L standards

A Description of Part F Test

All your Part L and Part F testing requirements can be met by us. 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.
Get the mechanical extract fans tested for flow rate. This is what Building Regulations Approved Document F requires. Evidence of this test must be passed to the Building Control Body (BCB) as part of their sign-off procedure. There are three alternative methods which can be followed to test, record and report the testing of extractor fans. Use method 3 – the minimum benchmark method, which tests extractor fans with vane anemometers. This is our testing procedure.


Types of Air Leakage Testing Services We Offer

There are several levels of air leakage testing based on the kind, size and multifaceted aspects of a dwelling. Here they are: Level One: Testing for the air pressure of single buildings and smaller non-dwellings of 4000m3 gross envelope volume and below, a single blower door fan is used. 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. The third level tests big and complex zonal and phased buildings and complex high rise 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 written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Air tightness testing is required for new builds. A building has to achieve a lower rate to meet the carbon dioxide emission target. The design-stage SAP assessment SBEM of a construction records its required air permeability rate. Uncontrolled ventilation can cause several problems. They are: infiltration of cold air, reduction in heat, more CO2 emission and higher energy costs.

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

Air leakage testing is the measurement of uncontrolled ventilation from a building’s fabric. The result of the air leakage test is expressed as a quantity of air leakage (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L2A. Each building tested must achieve a maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2. In order to comply with the SAP assessment, it may be necessary to achieve a lower air permeability rate. The design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment of a construction records its required air permeability rate. Excess air leakage causes heat loss, greater carbon dioxide discharge and influx of cold air.

Air Permeability Testing of Smoke Shafts (for automatic opening vents)

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. The automatic-opening vents are a key part of the fire strategy for multi-storey buildings to extract smoke in the case of a fire. For the fans and vents to perform as required, the shaft itself must be sufficiently air tight so as to create the pressure difference to draw smoke out of the building and protect the occupants. With the right air permeability rate, the vents can operate at their best. We aim for the air permeability rate set by the vent manufacturers. An air pressure test is conducted using a fan installed in the shaft. The openings for ventilation grilles and extract points on each floor are closed so that the state of the shaft itself is known. This test is conducted before the automatic opening ventilation is fixed and commissioned.

Measurement of Air Flow of Domestic Ventilation

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 evaluate extraction rates. This has not only been made compulsory by Building Regulations; it also helps reduce humidity in rooms, bathrooms and kitchens and expel pollutants. Building Regulations Part F also requires that the air flow test of all extractor fans (such as kitchen and bathroom extract fans) in new buildings to be conducted and results given to Building Control before construction ends.

Air Tightness Test and Building Preparation Method

The measurement of air pressure in a building is known as an air tightness test. The greater the air tightness of a building, the more comfortable the occupants are and the higher its energy performance.

Holes and spaces in a building’s fabric might be hidden by the internal building finishes, making them hard to find. The most acceptable approach to show that a building fabric is impermeable is to identify leakage paths within it.

Under the new regulations developers must test 20% of the dwellings on a site but this also depends on the amount of differing house types to ensure that a consistent sample is taken throughout the construction of the development. We recommend that all buildings be tested as those that aren’t are penalised.

What Should You Do Before Testing Your Building?

Send the drawings of your dwelling (plans and elevations) and its target air permeability requirements to our test 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. Making your building ready by ensuring it has an air tight environment will involve:

  • Open and secure all internal doors;
  • Close all windows;
  • Switch off all mechanical ventilation systems;
  • Seal ventilation;
  • Close smoke vents;
  • Fill all drainage traps;
  • Switch off all range cookers/stoves 24 hours before testing (if applicable)

Calculating the Building Envelope

We take the building envelope calculations before the test. The building envelope is the physical separator between the indoors and outdoors. The calculations, which are extracted from the drawings, are fed into our estimations when testing your building for air leaks.

Air Barrier Envelope Area

Approved Document L1A Conservation of Fuel and Power in New Dwellings (2010) defines air permeability as “air leakage rate per hour per square metre of envelope area at the test reference pressure differential of 50 pascals (50n/m2)” and envelope area as “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

Although hardly used as a major deciding factor for calculation or design, air exchange rate is vital in ventilation design. The number of inhabitants and area of residence are used in measuring residential ventilation rates.

Calculating the Envelope Area of a Cold Roof

The area of the roof and ground floor should be the same. A cold roof is the kind of roof where the insulation is fixed in the ceiling joists with space between the insulation and roof rafters.

Calculating the Envelope Area of a Warm Roof

A warm roof is a roof system where the insulation is fixed along the rafters with an air barrier inside the insulation. The envelope area is the barrier between the conditioned space in the insulation and the unconditioned space outside.

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

Check weather conditions (wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure); Connect a fan (or fans) to an aperture in the building envelope (e.g. door). Ensure all the testing equipment is ready. Using the fan, measure the air flow volume, from the building fabric. Raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to the highest speed of 55-60Pa. Record how the air pressure differs at each fan speed.

Calculating Air Leakage

We can determine where air leakage is occurring through our test procedure. Once the test has been completed, we crosscheck the data and send a report to you. If the test fails, we will advise you about corrective measures. Testing for Air Permeability and Following Part L Building Regulations

The positive effects of an air tight building with efficient ventilation (natural, mechanical or a combination) cannot be underestimated. Here they are: Lower heating bills due to less heat loss, with potentially smaller requirements for heating and cooling equipment capacities The ventilation system will operate optimally Your building will have less mould since moisture cannot escape into holes and cavities. You won’t experience much discomfort because there will be fewer draughts. From a single dwelling to the largest commercial development, we offer stress-free compliance measurements to Part L Building Regulations and Building Standards. We provide air tightness testing, consultancy, design reviews and support services on all buildings, both dwellings and non-dwellings in Chorleywood. We also provide cost-effective, local service that complies with all relevant Building Standards.


Good and Best Practice Standards

Any new building has to be air tight. The 2010 Approved Document L1A of Building Regulations has made it compulsory. The regulation helps to reduce the use of fuel and power. Part L1A further makes it obligatory for new buildings to be tested for air permeability in line with existing building standards.

Air Tightness Testing of Dwellings That Meet Technical Standard L1L1

There are technical standards for air tightness test of buildings in the UK detailed by Air Tightness Test and Measurement Association (ATTMA). This Technical Standard provides detailed guidance and clarification of BS EN 13829:2001: “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”, in order to ensure consistency by testing companies.

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

England and Wales: Building Regulation Targets Part L 2010

Test for air permeability must be conducted on your new constructions. This is stated in Approved Document L1A. For developments of two or more dwellings, an air leakage test should be carried out on the three units of each dwelling type; or 50% of all instances of that dwelling type. If the development has one or two dwellings only, an air tightness test might not be taken if the DET/TER calculations assume a value of 15m3/h/m2. An SAP assessor can decide which buildings can use the assumed value successfully. The required process for testing buildings for air tightness has been declared in ATTMA TSL1 for occupied buildings and ATTMA TSL2 for unoccupied ones. Both residential areas and many non-Dwellings are to take the air leakage test. Buildings with a floor area of less than 500 m2 might not have to take the test. Where air tightness testing is not done, an assumed air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 is used.

Building Regulations Part L (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.

Air leakage testers have three levels

  • Level One: Testing for the air pressure of single buildings and smaller non-dwellings of 4000m3 gross envelope area and below, is done with a single 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.
  • Air tightness testing for phased, zonal handover, LCHR and multifaceted constructions is carried out by level three experts.

Report for Air Leaks Test

Accredited testing companies issue air pressure reports. Extraction fans will be sealed temporarily; the results of the test are recorded in a short report. This is done according to the testing organisation’s procedures and Building Regulation standards.

Test Results

AF Acoustics will make sure the result is written in line with test requirements, detect any part of the test that is not in line with the standards required and check actual air tightness against required rate. 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 – Dwelling

Go through the list below and send the design air testing permeability value to us before we get to the site.

Air Leakage Pathway Listing – You must ensure the following are properly sealed and don’t have any openings.

  • Windows
  • Metre boxes
  • Extract fans
  • Hoods of cookers
  • Bath panel
  • Hot water tank
  • Chimney
  • Tumble drier extracts
  • MVHR
  • Soil panel
  • Boilers
  • Radiators, fans and heaters
  • Skirting and coving
  • Drainage traps
  • Junction between floor and wall under kitchens and baths

Here are the appliances you should seal temporarily;

  • Cooker hoods
  • Extractor fans/MVHR terminals
  • Trickle vents
  • Chimney flues and air bricks

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.