ATTMA Licensed Air Tightness Testing in Letchworth

Air tightness testing, also called air leakage testing or air pressure testing, calculates the quantity of air escaping through openings in a building. Air tightness testing has been a compulsory part of the building regulations for new dwellings, renovations and commercial projects since the revision of Document L in 2006.

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 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 Letchworth 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 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 Letchworth, 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 goal is always value for money and customer satisfaction. We are professionals and our services are of the highest quality.

Our Guarantee

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

Air Tightness Testing Explained

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. Air leakage, also known as infiltration or draught, allows air to pass through unwanted leaks in a building; unlike ventilation where the air inside and outside of a building and its flow from one end to the other is controlled. Air tightness testing evaluates the complete air leakage a building has in every gap available. The air leakage is known as uncontrolled ventilation. 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. 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 a crucial activity that

  • shows the air leaking from gaps in a building.

The introduction of tougher regulations has led to the construction of high-quality buildings. Building designs employ air tightness procedures from the early part of construction, creating a building that has adequate air tightness built into its design. 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

This occurs when openings in a building lead to excess air flow into and out of the building. Also known as infiltration, it is different from ventilation, which is air that enters a building in a controlled manner. 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. Testing for air leakage plays a primary role in determining the energy efficiency of a building. It is an important procedure that measures the air tightness level to ensure that the regulatory standards have been attained and the building’s energy calculations have been properly accomplished. In 2006, air tightness of newly constructed buildings and non-dwellings with a floor area over 500m² became compulsory in England and Wales.

What Is the Impact of Air Leakage?

Heat loss within a building can be caused by air leakage. When the weather is cold and windy, unwanted air seeps into a building through the holes and cracks in its fabric, causing heat loss and discomfort. It doesn’t stop there. Warm, damp air within the building escapes the gaps in its envelope. Once the moist air reaches the colder internal layer of the wall structure, the vapour in it condenses and forms droplets of liquid, which drawn into building materials and can potentially start a multitude of structural problems. The strength of the outer wooden covering is drastically reduced because it is wet.

Over time, any of these conditions can cause structural damage.
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. Adequately installed air barriers minimise air leaks and the probability of vapour condensing and diffusing into the building’s structure. Proper ventilation, whether active or passive, is critical in expelling undesirable damp scents, water vapour and polluting substances.


Why Should We Do an Air Tightness test?

Air tightness is a key factor in building energy efficiency, and is a part of government-led initiative to combat climate change through improvements in building energy performance. Fossil fuel is burnt to heat up a building. This leads to a discharge of carbon dioxide which increases global warming. Reducing air leakage reduces heat loss, which in turn reduces the amount of energy a heating system uses. Uncontrolled air leakage also results in health problems. Coupled with poor air circulation, it leads to the growth of mould and mildew. To “Construct tight, ventilate right” is the best practice. Air leakage causes infiltration of moisture into the building envelope, leading to health issues and high repair costs.

When Is an Air Tightness Test Needed?

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 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, you get a penalty of +2m3/h/m2. Houses that have a target score of 5m3/h/m2 must get a lower score of 3.

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. 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.

Why Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing?

Business owners and home owners in Letchworth have been helped by AF Acoustics air tightness testing. Our clients highly recommend us for the following reasons.

Great service and expertise

Due to years of experience in conducting air tightness testing in different kinds of buildings in Letchworth, 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. Our knowledgeable and dependable air testing experts will provide lasting solutions to your problem. Call AF Acoustics for your air tightness testing.

Registered by the Leading Air Tightness Body in UK

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

Responsive scheduling

We want to provide detailed air permeability testing in Letchworth for you whenever you need it. We offer responsive scheduling. Schedule for your building to be tested at your convenience. We won’t make you wait or make the process complicated.

Next-day Turnaround on Test Certificate Where Possible

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

Fair Pricing

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

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

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

Whatever the type and size of a domestic or commercial building in Letchworth, AF Acoustics’ experts can test it for air permeability and issue an ATTMA certificate afterwards. An air leakage test is used to determine the level of uncontrolled air flow through gaps or cracks in the fabric of a building. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. of building fabric.

Approved Document L1A and L2A demands that buildings take tests for air leaks. The design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM of a construction records its required air permeability rate. While the law requires the highest air permeability rate to be 10m3/h/m2, your building might have to get a lower rate to meet the carbon emissions target. 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 Letchworth, 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. It will also help you reduce the cost of maintaining heating or cooling in your commercial building, making it more productive.

A Description of 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. Air tightness can also be called air leakage or air permeability rate. Any hole or crack in a building fabric is a spot where air leak can take place. Air leakage points are not often visible. Samples of houses in an area and all non-domestic buildings with more than an area of to m2 must be tested, according to Part L of the Building Regulations. 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.
Approved Document F of the Building Regulations requires that all mechanical extract fans in new dwellings be subjected to a flow rate test. Building Control Body (BCB) will see proof that the test has been conducted before signing off your building. Extractor fans can be tested and recorded, and test reports submitted using 3 methods. 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

Here are the descriptions of the ways air permeability can be tested: First Level – For building 1m3-4000m3, single and smaller non-dwellings, a single blower door fan is used to carry out the test. Level Two: Single and multifaceted buildings 4000m3 gross envelope volume and above are tested for air pressure. High rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings are excluded from this level. Level Three: At this level, tests for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings.

Air Tightness Testing of Houses and Flats to Meet Approved Document L1

An air leakage test is a test to determine the level of uncontrolled air flow through gaps or cracks in the fabric of a building. The result is written as m3 per hour per square metre of building. Document L1A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. Your building may need a lower rate to meet the CO2 discharge target. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss which can lead to draughts and higher energy bills.

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

Air pressure testing involves the calculation of air escaping through the openings in a building. The air leakage test result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building. Part L2A of Building Regulations has demanded that such tests be conducted. The highest air permeability rate for your dwelling when tested should be 10m3/h/m2. The result of your dwelling’s air permeability rate might have to be lower than required due to SAP or SBEM assessment. The design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment of a construction records its required air permeability rate. Air leakage causes heat loss, increased energy bills, greater CO2 emissions, and an uncomfortable atmosphere for inhabitants due to draughts.

Testing the Smoke Shaft of Automatic Opening Vents

Smoke shaft needs to be tested because its air tightness determines the performance of the automatic opening vent fitted on it. Our professionals perform the test. Automatic opening vents are crucial during fire emergencies in storey buildings, as they clear out smoke from the buildings. For it to expel smoke from a building and keep the occupants safe during emergencies, the shaft must be air tight enough to create substantial pressure difference. We’re committed to automatic opening vents builders’ target for air permeability. This enables the vents to work efficiently. The shaft undergoes air leakage testing when fans are placed inside it. 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

With the legal requirement for buildings that have the right quantity of air pressure, adequate ventilation that is suitable, effective and of high quality has become crucial. We 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

The measurement of air pressure in a building is known as an air tightness test. 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. The most acceptable approach to show that a building fabric is impermeable is to identify leakage paths within it.

The new regulations stipulate that at least 20% of dwellings in a development be tested, but having a harmonious sample is dependent on the kind of buildings in the development. There is a penalty for untested constructions. Therefore, we suggest air leakage tests for all buildings.

Pre-Test

The client needs to send our test engineers the drawings of the development (plans and elevations) and target air permeability requirements. 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

Calculating the Building Envelope

We conduct building envelope calculations prior to the test. A building envelope is the boundary between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building. The calculations are taken from the drawings. These are then incorporated into our calculations when we air test the property.

Air Permeability of the 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 Change Rate

Air changes per hour are crucial to ventilation design, but it is only occasionally used as the base for the design or calculation. The calculation of residential ventilation rates is dependent on the area of the homes and number of occupants.

Measuring a Cold Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

It is important to make sure the roof area and ground floor area of a building are equal. 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 where the insulation is installed on top of the roof structure. The envelope area, found at the insulation’s warm side, is the separator between the conditioned internal aspect and the unconditioned.

Building readiness

To get the building ready, close and secure all internal doors, windows, Temporarily seal vents and smoke vents. Also fill drainage traps.

Site Test Process

Check all weather conditions such as temperature, wind speed and barometric pressure. Connect a fan (or fans) to an aperture in the building envelope (e.g. door). Fix the instrument for testing. 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. At each fan speed, note the differences in air pressure in all the parts of the building.

Air Leakage Measurement

Our air leakage measurement involves picking out the gaps where air leakage takes place, recording the test information, sending results to customers in a technical report and advise clients on repair methods in the case of a test failure. Air Leakage Testing and Compliance

Making sure your building is air tight and has adequate ventilation, be it natural, mechanical, or a combination of the two, will aid your comfort. Find below the benefits: Your heating expenses are less because heat doesn’t escape through a permeable building, and you won’t require appliances with more heating capability. A functional ventilation system Lower levels of mould due to less moisture collecting in gaps and cavities. You won’t experience much discomfort because there will be fewer draughts. Be assured that you’ll get a test that meets all the regulations and standards no matter how big or small your building is. We provide air tightness testing, consultancy, design reviews and support services on all buildings, both dwellings and non-dwellings in Letchworth. We also provide cost-effective, local service that complies with all relevant Building Standards.


Best Practice Processes

All new buildings, residential or commercial, must be air tight, according to Approved Document Part L1A of Building Regulations (2010). Less fuel and power are consumed by buildings. Part L1A states that new dwellings should be tested for air tightness in accordance with existing regulations.

Testing for Air Tightness in Building Fabrics of Dwellings to Adhere to Technical Standards L1

ATTMA has specified technical standards that must be adhered to while testing buildings in the UK, according to 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

England and Wales: Building Regulation Targets Part L 2010

Undergoing an air tightness test is compulsory for your new building, according to Part L of Building Regulations. 50% or 3 units of each dwelling type should undergo an air leakage test in the case of an area with two or more dwellings. 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. Your SAP assessor will let you know if you can do this for your building. The method for testing required by the building regulations is stated in ATTMA TSL1 (for dwellings) and ATTMA TSL2 (for non-dwellings). Air tightness tests are to be carried out on all residential developments (all the buildings or a selected group) and all certain Non-Dwellings. A building might not have to undertake the air leakage test if its floor space is less than 500m2 or its DET calculations have an air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 added to it.

Building Regulations for England and Wales, Part L

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. It mirrors the operation standards and skill requirements set by the National Occupation Standard (NOS) and the Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) document.

Air tightness testers can be divided into three categories

  • A single fan is the instrument used for the first level to examine single buildings and smaller non-dwellings from 1m3 to 4000m3.
  • Level Two: Testing for the air pressure is done in all single and multifaceted buildings. High rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings are excluded from this level, except a level 3 tester is in charge of the team.
  • 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

Air tightness reports are issued by accredited firms that carry out air permeability tests on buildings of different sizes or complexities. Extraction fans will be sealed temporarily; the results of the test are recorded in a short report. The report will be produced in accordance with company’s procedures, the relevant standards and the requirements of all relevant governing bodies.

Outcome of Air Leak Test

AF Acoustics guarantees the test outcome is written in line with standard requirements; it picks out any deviations from the significant benchmarks inside the report and checks air permeability against target values. The identity of the customer, tester, building and address are correctly written in our report. We will state if your building has passed or failed the test and give advice on the actions you need to take if another test is needed.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

Before we arrive on site, ensure you have sent us the air permeability target and been through the checklist below and the ones we have sent you. This will greatly facilitate the process.

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.