Hitchin Air Tightness Testing, Licensed by AF-Acoustics

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. 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.

Air leakage occurs through any opening in the building envelope and can affect a building’s energy performance, this has been addressed by changes to the building regulations. 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 Hitchin and we can provide air permeability measurement whenever you require. 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 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

Air Tightness Testing – What It Means

Air tightness testing involves calculating the quantity of air which escapes through holes in the building fabric. Air tightness testing is also known as air pressure testing or air leakage testing. While the normal restrained movement of air all through a building is called ventilation, the unchecked movement of air through cracks and gaps in a building is air leakage; also known as draught or infiltration. Draughts are uncontrolled ventilation. Using air tightness testing, the total air lost can be estimated. 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. Regulations now concentrate on minimising air leakage from the building envelope thereby reducing the amount of fuel burned for maintenance. This helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Air tightness testing is vital in determining the energy efficiency of a new building, air leakage and the build quality. Building plans will often consider air tightness at the beginning stages of development so as to measure up to stricter building standards. When the building fabric is properly constructed to reduce air loss, the building is economical, and energy efficient.

What Air Leakage Is

This occurs when openings in a building lead to excess air flow into and out of the building. When the circulation of air is properly monitored and bridled, ventilation has occurred. Another name for air leakage is infiltration. It may cause uncontrolled influx of air during frosty and windy weather. This reduces the temperature of the building, making the occupants uncomfortable. 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.

Air Leakage’s Resulting Outcomes

Air leakage leads to a reduction in heat. During windy weather, cold air infiltrates a building through the openings in its fabric. This results in heat loss. Once there’s infiltration, exfiltration will occur in another part of the building. Warm, moist air seeps into cool cavities in the building’s fabric. The water vapour in the moist air condenses on the inner wall surface holes. After a while, it is absorbed into building materials and diffuses, causing potential structural problems. There could be a decrease in the toughness and solidity of wet wooden covering due to rot.

These problems will eventually cause structural harm to the building.
The inhabitants become uncomfortable because of chilly homes, heating expenses increase and more CO2 is emitted due to the additional heat required.

These effects can be mitigated by controlling the circulation of air into and out of the building. A properly installed air barrier minimises air leakage, which, in turn, minimises the potential for water vapour to condense on vulnerable wall structures. Passive or active ventilation is required to reduce water vapour, moisture odour and pollutants.


Why Must We Do an Air Tightness Test?

Air tightness is an important factor in a building’s energy efficiency and is part of government’s plan to battle environmental change by regulating the energy performance of buildings. Home heating involves burning up fossil fuel which produces carbon dioxide and aids global warming. Reducing air leakage reduces heat loss, which in turn reduces the amount of energy a heating system uses. 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. A great option would be to build tight and ventilate right. Excess air leakage leads to moisture in the building envelope, causing large repair expenses and medical issues because of mould.

When Your Building Needs an Air Tightness Test

It is best practice to complete an air tightness test early on and then again at the final stage. 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. 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. This type of testing does not reveal the exact air tightness of each residence and is therefore not advisable. Moreover, the penalty implemented on untested buildings makes the required air permeability rate difficult to attain.

Why You Should Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing

With AF Acoustics, homes and businesses in Hitchin have been getting quality air tightness testing. Our customers highly recommend us to other people due to the following benefits.

Great service and expertise

Our vast experience in serving a variety of clients in Hitchin guarantees we have the expertise to satisfy your needs regardless your unique circumstances, type or size of property. Our accredited air testing experts are polite and competent. They are trained to provide the service you need and fit around your project. 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 the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), an organisation that is centred on technical excellence in all air leakage measurement methods. ATTMA, the leading air leakage testing body in the UK, has recognised the quality of our services.

When Can You Call Us to Test Your Building?

We would like to give your building in Hitchin a thorough air leakage test whenever it is needed. Pick a time that is convenient for you in our responsive scheduling options. You won’t get delays or difficulties when scheduling.

Quick Turnaround on Test Certificates Where Possible

AF Acoustics has professional speedy services to satisfy clients who want their test results immediately. We have a next day turnaround policy for our test certificates and endeavour to deliver in all situations.

Affordable Fees

At AF Acoustics, we offer the most competitive prices in Hitchin 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

We Conduct Tests for All Types of Buildings in Hitchin

We can test any building in Hitchin for air leakages irrespective of its size, complex nature or type. Our tests are conducted by highly qualified professionals and we issue ATTMA certificates. 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 leakage testing is required by Approved Document L1A and L2A. 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. Excessive air leakage causes discomfort due to heat reduction and carbon dioxide discharge. It also creates convective loops within a building’s internal structure, leading to energy loss. 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. Air permeability testing is a legal requirement for constructions in Hitchin. This way, they can have high energy performance, meet building regulations requirements and get signed off by building control. Clients and employees will be at ease in their surroundings. The company also gets reduced heating and cooling costs and higher productivity rates.

What Is Part L Test?

Since Approved Document L was reviewed in 2006, building regulations have demanded that new and rehabilitated constructions conduct air tightness test. Air tightness is also called air leakage rate 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. Part L of the Building Regulations requires that all commercial buildings greater than 500m2 undergo air tightness testing and a selection of residential buildings in a development be tested. Part L has also set a maximum air permeability target rate of 10m3/h/m2, but a building usually needs lower levels. Air tightness is important for meeting the Building Regulations Part L standards, exceeding requirements for low carbon buildings, and overall energy efficiency.

The 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.
Approved Document F of the Building Regulations demands that all mechanical extract fans in newly completed constructions undergo a flow rate test. Building Control Body (BCB) has made a presentation of evidence of the test a compulsory aspect of a building’s sign-off process. There are 3 available methods for examining, recording and reporting the testing of extract fans. Using a vane anemometer, our testing procedure follows Method 3 – The minimum benchmark method.


Different Ways We Test for Air Permeability

Here are the descriptions of the ways air permeability can be tested: A single blower door fan is used for air tightness testing for single buildings and smaller non-dwellings not more than 4000m3. The second level examines simple and complex buildings greater than 4000m3, with the exclusion of large zonal buildings and complex high rise (LCHR) buildings. Level 3: Air Pressure Testing for LCHR buildings, phased and zonal handover buildings is carried out.

Testing of Air Permeability of Residences and Apartments, in Accordance with Document L1 Stipulations

The measurement of air emitted by a building is tested to determine air permeability rating. The result of the air leakage test is expressed as a quantity of air leakage (mm3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Document L1A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. The design-stage SAP assessment SBEM of a construction records its required air permeability rate. An excessive amount of air leakage results in greater energy expenses, heat reduction and carbon dioxide emissions.

Testing of Air Permeability of Commercial Dwellings, in Accordance with Document L2 Stipulations

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 of the air leakage test is expressed as a quantity of air leakage (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Document L2A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. Each building tested must achieve a maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2. The SAP or SBEM assessment for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. The design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment of a construction records its required air permeability rate. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and draught.

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. When there is a fire, the auto opening vents play an important part in expelling smoke in multi-storey 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. 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. The openings for ventilation grilles and extract points on each floor are closed so that the state of the shaft itself is known. The fixing and commissioning of the auto opening vents happen after the test is completed.

We Offer Extraction Fan Testing

The requirement for air tight buildings that are properly insulated has brought about the need for ventilation systems that are adequately installed and function at an optimal level. 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. 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

Air tightness test determines the level of air permeability in a building. When air leakage is reduced in a building, the occupants will not experience discomfort and the energy performance will increase.

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.

At least 20% of different kinds of dwellings in a development have to be tested, according to new regulations; but the reliability of the sample from this type of testing is determined by the types of buildings in the development. We advise that all buildings undergo air pressure testing as there is a penalty for those that don’t.

Pre-Test Requirements

Send the drawings of your dwelling (plans and elevations) and its target air permeability requirements to our test engineers. We would like to know the requirements and the building envelope’s size prior to testing. The tests take 30 – 60 minutes, and wind speed does not surpass 6m/s. To get the site ready, make the place air tight by closing and securing all external doors, windows, ventilation and smoke vents. Remember to turn off range cookers or stoves a day before testing as well as mechanical ventilation systems, and fill all drainage traps.

  • Seal and turn off all ventilation, smoke vents and mechanical ventilation systems
  • Close the windows and open internal doors
  • Fill drainage traps
  • Switch off range stoves/cookers 24 hours before the test

How We Measure the Building Envelope

We undertake the building envelope calculations before we arrive on the site. The building envelope is the surface area of the structural barrier of a building. It separates the interior from the exterior part of the dwelling The calculations are taken from the drawings. These are then incorporated into our calculations when we air test the property.

Envelope Area Air Permeability

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 Change Rate

The air change rate is important in designing a ventilation system, however, it is hardly a part of the actual design. Residential ventilation rates are measured based on the number of inhabitants and area of residence.

Cold Roof Construction Envelope Area Calculation

The area of the roof and ground floor should be the same. 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.

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 boundary between the internal environment and external environment (adjacent buildings), and can be found on the insulation’s warm part.

Preparing the Building

  • Shut all windows
  • Close the smoke vents
  • Shut and secure all inner doors
  • turn off the mechanical vents
  • Temporarily seal vents
  • Fill and block drainage traps

Site Test Procedure

Measure the weather conditions. Check the temperature, barometric pressure and wind speed. Connect a fan (or fans) to an aperture in the building envelope (e.g. door). Set up testing equipment. Calculate the air flow volume through the fan which equates to the air leakage. Raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to the highest speed of 55-60Pa. Note the difference in air pressure in several parts of the building at each fan speed.

Air Leakage Measurement

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 Pressure Testing & Compliance

An airtight building has several positive impacts when combined with an appropriate ventilation system (whether natural, mechanical, or hybrid): The occupants will pay less for heat because less heat is lost and they won’t need equipment with high heating capacities. Your ventilation system will operate in a better way 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 clients can expect a stress-free conformity to Part L Building Regulations standards, whether they have a single building or a large commercial building. They also ensure that you spend less money. Here are the services we provide:

  • Air tightness test
  • Consultancy
  • Design reappraisal
  • Support services

Best Practice Processes

Any new building has to be air tight. The 2010 Approved Document L1A of Building Regulations has made it compulsory. This regulation was put in place to conserve fuel and power. Part L1A has demanded that all new dwellings be tested for air leaks in line with other regulations.

Air Tightness Testing of Dwellings That Meet Technical Standard L1L1

During air leakage tests, there are technical standards that must be used. This was mandated by ATTMA – Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association–to align with building regulations and other rules. 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 Requirements Part L 2010 (England and Wales)

If you are constructing a dwelling the Approved Document L1A states that you must perform an air pressure test. Those exceptions only occur when there are two or more dwellings in a development. Three units of a dwelling type or 50% of all examples of that dwelling type should be tested. 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. To find if your building falls into this category, contact your SAP assessor. ATTMA TSL1 and ATTMA TSL2 prescribe methods for testing occupied and unoccupied buildings. Air tightness tests are to be carried out on all residential developments (all the buildings or a selected group) and all certain Non-Dwellings. If your building has added an estimated assessed rate of 15 m3/h/m2 in its calculations or its useful floor space is less than 500 m2, it may not have to take the test.

Part L Building Regulations Standards for England and Wales

ATTMA has a competent scheme for air leakage testing firms which determines their level of competence. The scheme, which was launched in January 2015, is recognised by the government and noted in the 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.
  • 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.

Air Pressure Test

Accredited testing companies issue air pressure reports. Temporary sealing of extraction units will be done by the tester; all test results will be noted, and a shortened form report will be written which will include the findings of the test. The report will be produced in accordance with company’s procedures, the relevant standards and the requirements of all relevant governing bodies.

Air Tightness Test Results

AF Acoustics will ensure the test result is written in accordance with the test standard requirements, identify any deviations from the relevant standards within the report and check air tightness against target value. The identity of the customer, tester, building and address are correctly written in our report. If a building fails the test, we provide remedial suggestions before a retest is carried out.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

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

Air Leakage Pathway Checklist – Check will be done for visible leaks in the following places:

  • Windows: Check the seal beneath the sills and around the frames.
  • Doors: Check the seal around all external door surrounds (especially French doors).
  • Drainage traps: Check if they are filled with water.
  • Skirting and coving: Check above and below all skirting and coving, sealing where necessary.
  • Metre Boxes: Check all external supplies are sealed appropriately.
  • Light Fittings: Check the seal around all light fittings and switches.
  • Radiators / Fans / Heaters: Check the seal around all pipes and wires.
  • Boilers: Check the seal around the boiler supply and flue.
  • Extractor Fans: Check around the edge of the extracts, only the front of the grill can be sealed.
  • Cooker Hoods: Check the seals around all penetrations.
  • Soil pipes: Check the seal around all soil pipes and sink waste pipes especially those boxed in or behind kitchen cabinets.
  • Bath Panels: Check if all pipes behind bath panels are sealed properly.
  • Hot water tank: Check the seal around all supply pipes.
  • MVHR: Check seal around all terminals.
  • Chimneys: Open fireplaces must be sealed prior to our arrival.
  • Tumble drier extracts: Check the seal around the extract.
  • Junction between floor and wall under kitchens and baths

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.