Broadstairs 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. In 2006, Approved Document L was reviewed and building regulations for air permeability became more stringent. The test is presently a requirement for new buildings and reconstructions.

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. We register our air tightness certificates with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), an organisation that encourages proper air leakage applications and promotes quality air tightness screening. We are dedicated and accredited air leakage testing service providers in Broadstairs and we are available to provide you with testing services whenever required. We also provide Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing, assessments and consultancy services.

Because we are ATTMA members, any air tightness certificate we issue shows that the construction has met building regulation standards. Not only do we test the air permeability of your building, we describe the procedure in a professional manner and advise you on problem areas discovered during the evaluation. Our customers get greater value for money spent, and our testing services are of superior quality.

Our Guarantee

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

Air Tightness Testing Explained

Air tightness testing is a technique whereby a newly constructed building is evaluated and the quantity of air leaking through is measured. Other names for air tightness testing are air leakage testing and air pressure testing. 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 evaluates the complete air leakage a building has in every gap available. The air leakage is known as uncontrolled ventilation. Unrestrained air movement leads to heat reduction, making the inhabitants of the building uncomfortable. Air leakage from buildings causes heat loss, more energy is then used to keep the building warm, this is a cause of excess CO2 emissions. This has resulted in regulations which are centred on decreasing air leaks from the building fabric, therefore lowering CO2 emissions. Air tightness testing is vital in determining the energy efficiency of a new building, air leakage and the build quality. 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. A building that is air tight A building that is air tight is more economical and ensures less drafts ALS energy efficient.

Air Leakage

Air leakage is uncontrolled air movement in a building due to cracks. Air leakage is the uncontrolled movement of air into and out of a building through gaps and spaces in the building’s fabric. It is also referred to as infiltration and is the opposite of ventilation which involves well managed circulation of air in a building. It leads to heat deprivation when cold draughts happen and warmth is needed the most. Because air leakage is uncontrolled ventilation, excessive air flows into the house during windy and wintry weather. Air leakage and a dwelling’s energy efficiency are intertwined. Testing is needed to verify that air tightness levels used in the building’s energy calculations align with the targets required by the law. Air tightness testing is compulsory for all new constructions and non dwellings with a floor area over 500m² in England and Wales. This came into effect in 2006.

Air Leakage’s Resulting Outcomes

Heat loss within a building can be caused by air leakage. Heat loss is caused by influx of frosty outside air into a building through the openings in its envelope during draughts and cold weather, leading to an uncomfortable drop in temperature. Movement of moist air into cavities in other parts of the building also occur. This process is called exfiltration. The air hits the cooler surface in the inner parts of the wall. Water vapour condenses and gathers in these gaps. Eventually, it is absorbed and starts a myriad of defects. Wooden sheathing or overlay becomes wet, making it weak.

Over time, any of these conditions can cause structural damage.
Other effects of air leakage are:

  • Discomfort; the environment is colder
  • Higher heat cost; a way of combating the cold, and
  • More CO2 emission because of the extra heat used.

The most effective method of lessening the damage caused by moisture is to control the flow of air into and out of the building. An adequately installed air barrier reduces air leakage and condensation of water vapour on inner wall layers. Proper ventilation, whether active or passive, is critical in expelling undesirable damp scents, water vapour and polluting substances.


Why You Should Conduct 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 involves burning fossil fuel which increases CO2 emissions and causes global warming. Reducing air leakage reduces heat loss, which in turn reduces the amount of energy a heating system uses. Properties with uncontrolled air leakage also cause health issues. A building with poor ventilation and high air permeability is conducive for moisture and mould growth which can affect the inhabitant’s health. A great option would be to build tight and ventilate right. High levels of air leakage can lead to moisture ingress into the building fabric, resulting in expensive repair costs and potential health problems due to mould.

When Is an Air Tightness Test Needed?

Best practice says that air tightness tests should be carried out early in construction and after the final phase. The test results are used in SAP and SBEM calculations, this impacts the energy rating of new building. 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.

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. 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 You Should Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing

Business owners and home owners in Broadstairs have been helped by AF Acoustics air tightness testing. We come highly recommended by our clients because of the following guarantees.

Helpful service and expert knowledge

Having served many clients in Broadstairs, we have the expertise to work on any type or size of building. Our accredited air testing experts are polite and competent. They are trained to provide the service you need and fit around your project. Do you need trustworthy professionals who will provide great results in Broadstairs? 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 Broadstairs at anytime. Simply fix a convenient time for your building’s air permeability test. We offer responsive scheduling. We won’t make you wait or make the process complicated.

Quick Turnaround on Test Certificates 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.

Affordable Fees

AF Acoustics offers competitive fees in Broadstairs. Since we’re a small business, we offer less expensive air permeability testing and render high quality services.

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 Broadstairs

We can test any building in Broadstairs for air leakages irrespective of its size, complex nature or type. Our tests are conducted by highly qualified professionals and we issue ATTMA certificates. 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 results are registered as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building.

Air tightness testing is recommended by Approved Document L1A and L2A. 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. Excess air leakage causes heat loss, greater carbon dioxide discharge and can make occupants uncomfortable due to the influx of cold air. It also causes wind washing and thermal bypassing, resulting in lower energy performance. Exfiltration/infiltration of air is caused by a stack effect. Due to the pressure difference inside and outside the building, rising warm air reduces the pressure in the base of the building and draws in air, whether through open doors, windows or other openings and leakage points. Air tightness testing is required by law for domestic buildings to ensure energy efficiency and comfort within the home environment. It is also a legal requirement that all new builds have an air tightness test carried out to meet energy efficiency standards before it can get signed off by building control in Broadstairs. For commercial constructions, air pressure tests result in a better environment for workers and customers. Heating and cooling expenses are also reduced and the environment is more productive.

Part L Test

In 2006, Approved Document L was reviewed and building regulations for air permeability became tighter. The air tightness test is presently a requirement for new buildings and reconstructions. Air tightness is referred to as air permeability or leakage rate. Air leakage can occur through gaps, holes and cracks in the fabric of the building envelope (service penetrations, wall/roof junctions, etc), which are not always 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. To adhere to Part L, make sure your building’s air permeability rate is not greater than 10m3/h/m2. Air leakage is vital to a building’s energy efficiency and is needed to meet Building Regulations Part L and carbon emission standards.

Part F Test

We can provide you all that you need to serve all your Part L and Part F requirements. Not only will we conduct your air tightness test and extract fan flow rate test, we will also recommend experts who can handle your SAP calculations, water calculations and Energy Performance Certificates satisfactorily.
Approved Document F of the Building Regulations demands that all mechanical extract fans in newly completed constructions undergo a flow rate test. The Building Control Body (BCB) has to see the results of the test as part of its sign-off procedure. There are 3 available methods for examining, recording and reporting the testing of extract 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

The size, type and multifaceted parts of a building determine the level of air pressure testing it will receive. There are 3 levels and they are listed below. Level 1: Air pressure testing for single dwellings and other smaller non-dwellings up to 4000 m³ gross envelope volume, typically tested with a single blower door fan. The second level examines simple and complex buildings greater than 4000m3, with the exclusion of large zonal buildings and complex high rise (LCHR) buildings. Third Level – Testing is done for large high rise and phased handover buildings.

Testing of Air Permeability of Residences and Apartments, in Accordance with Document L1 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 is written as m3 per hour per square metre of building. Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L1A. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate 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.

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

Air pressure testing involves the calculation of air escaping through the openings in 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. Your building may need a lower air permeability rate to meet the SAP or SBEM assessment. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Air leakage causes heat loss, increased energy bills, greater CO2 emissions, and an uncomfortable atmosphere for inhabitants due to draughts.

Air Leakage Test of Smoke Shafts for Auto 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. Smoke needs to be cleared out in the event of a fire. The automatic opening ventilation is a vital aspect of the fire strategy for high rise buildings. For the vents and fans to operate at the expected level, the smoke shaft must be air tight to create a difference in air pressure and give emergency services when needed. AF Acoustics aims for the air permeability requirements of the automatic opening vent producers, so that their product can perform optimally. The shaft is tested for air permeability by using a fan that is fixed inside it. The intended openings of the shaft (i.e. extract point and openings for ventilation grilles on each floor) are sealed off for the test so that the integrity of the shaft itself can be determined. The test takes place in advance of the automatic-opening ventilation equipment being installed and commissioned.

Testing Extraction Fans for Air Flow

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 test fan extraction rates. It is important to ensure the ventilation strategy is working effectively. This helps to remove pollutants from the air and control excess humidity, particularly in rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens. Another of such targets, as stated by Part F, is to have the standard intermittent extractor fans, like kitchen and bathroom extractors, in new constructions measured for air flow and results given to Building Control before the construction work is completed.

Explicit Test and Building Preparation Process

The measurement of air pressure in a building is known as an air tightness test. The air tightness of a building improves its energy efficiency and internal environment.

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 best solution to demonstrate a building’s air tightness level is to check for leakage paths in the building envelope.

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 advise that all buildings undergo air pressure testing as there is a penalty for those that don’t.

Pre-Test Requirements

Our test engineers require the drawings (plans and elevations) and target air permeability requirements of your building before taking the test. 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. An air tight environment should be created in your building before the test to ensure optimal results. Do the following:

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

How We Measure the Building Envelope

Before coming to the site, we get the measurement of the building’s envelope. The building envelope is the physical separator between the indoors and outdoors. 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 Exchange Rate

Air exchange rate is vital to ventilation design but it isn’t used as the determinant of the actual design or calculation. Residential ventilation rates are measured based on the number of inhabitants and area of residence.

Measuring a Cold Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

Measuring if the roof area and ground floor area of a building are the same is vital. 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 has the insulation running along the pitched roof rafters with an air barrier normally running parallel along the inside face of the insulation. 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 Procedure

Check weather conditions (wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure); Connect a fan to an aperture within the construction envelope. For example, the door. Set up testing equipment. Note the air flow volume from the fan. This is the same as the air leakage from the building envelope. Slowly raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to 55-60Pa. The pressure differences in the building at each fan speed should be calculated.

Measuring air leakage

We analyse the air tightness test data, point out any air leakage path and send a report to clients. If the building fails the test, we suggest remedial measures to the client. Testing for Air Tightness & Meeting Part L Standards

When a building has the right kind of ventilation (mechanical, natural or a combination of both) and has a low permeability rate, the advantages to the occupants are numerous. Some of them are: The occupants will pay less for heat because less heat is lost and they won’t need equipment with high heating 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. 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. Our services include: air pressure testing, support services, re-examining designs and consultancy for all buildings in Broadstairs. We are cost effective and adhere to all building regulations.


Best Practice Procedures

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.

Measuring Air Permeability on Building Envelopes (Dwellings) – To Technical Standard L1

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

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

Building Regulation 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. 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 there are no more than two new dwellings, using an assumed value of 15m3/h/m2 in the DET/TER calculations might exempt them from air tightness testing. An SAP assessor can decide which buildings can use the assumed value successfully. ATTMA TSL1 and ATTMA TSL2 prescribe methods for testing occupied and unoccupied buildings. Air leakage testing is compulsory for residential areas and certain Non-Dwellings. Non-dwellings where floor area is less than 500 m2 or has an assumed assessed air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 in their calculations, may not have to undergo the air leakage test.

Building Regulation Requirements Part L (England and Wales)

ATTMA has a scheme for air leakage test organisations, which commenced in January 2015. The scheme was approved by the government and is stated in Technical Standard L1 and L2. Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) and National Occupation Standard (NOS) documents are the basis for the scheme.

There are three levels of testers:

  • 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.
  • The third level expert tests big and complex zonal and phased buildings and complex high-rise buildings.

Air Leakage Test Report

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

Results of the Test

We analyse our tests and results for any divergence from the standards required and check the air pressure rate against target rate. That way, our results are expressed in line with test standards. We will ensure the report correctly identifies the tester, customer, building and its address. If a building fails the test, we provide remedial suggestions before a retest is carried out.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

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

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

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

Temporarily cover the following;

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

Air Tightness Testing FAQ’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The common leakage sites are:

All pipe works within the kitchen and bathrooms

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

Our team of experts can support you through the following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. Air tightness testing applies to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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