ATTMA Licensed Air Tightness Testing in Gillingham

Air tightness testing, otherwise called air pressure testing or air leakage testing, is the measurement of the outflow of air from a building’s fabric. 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. Located in Gillingham, our company is a committed and accredited air permeability testing service provider; we provide air testing services. We also provide Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing, assessments and consultancy services.

We are registered members of the ATTMA. As a result, our air tightness certificates prove that the building requirements for your building have been met. 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 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 is carried out to determine the volume of air escaping from holes in a building fabric. It is sometimes referred to as air leakage testing or air pressure 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. Air tightness testing is the recognised method used to measure total air lost through leaks in a building fabric. This is often referred to as uncontrolled ventilation (draughts). When too much air leaks through a building’s fabric, heat loss occurs, making the occupants uncomfortable. As Government strives to reduce CO2 emissions from new buildings, building regulations now place greater emphasis on reducing air leakage from the building envelope. This reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Air tightness testing is a crucial activity that

  • shows the air leaking from gaps in a building.

The building regulations have made air tightness part of the building’s design from the beginning of the construction. This ensures that the fabric of a building is air tight. 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, what Is It?

This occurs when openings in a building lead to excess air flow into and out of the building. Also called infiltration, it differs from ventilation which is the regular, planned and restrained flow of air into a building. Once the atmosphere is windy, draughts infiltrate the building through holes in the fabric, leading to heat reduction and discomfort. Air leakage testing plays a significant role in the energy-saving efficacy of properties. With air tightness testing, you can be sure that the building has met the stipulated targets used for energy calculation and air tightness. In England and Wales, air tightness testing has been mandatory since 2006 for all new builds and non-dwellings with a floor area over 500m².

The Impact of Air Leakage

Air leakage leads to a reduction in heat. Once the atmosphere is cold and windy, unwanted chilly air infiltrates the building through gaps, leading to heat reduction. 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 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. 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.
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 best way to reduce the harmful effect of moisture is to efficiently control how air moves 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. To get rid of pollutants, water vapour and moisture odour, the building must be well ventilated.


Why You Should Conduct an Air Tightness Test

The energy performance of a building is determined by how air tight it is. Energy performance affects CO2 released from buildings. As a result, air tightness testing is a method government has devised to regulate climate change. Heating buildings contribute to global warming and CO2 emissions, since fossil fuels are used to create heat. When air leakage is controlled, heat loss and energy used by the heating system are reduced. Individuals living in buildings with high levels of air leakage may have medical problems. Houses. Low ventilation and uncontrolled air leaks result in mould growth and moisture which can cause potential health issues. 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.

Recommended Period for Air Tightness Test

Best practice says that air tightness tests should be carried out early in construction and after the final phase. Newly completed constructions’ energy ratings can be influenced by the test results, as they are used in SAP and SBEM calculations. Large residential areas do not need each building to be tested. Instead, different types of dwellings are 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.

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 recommended because: i.It is quite tough to achieve the lower air permeability rate set for untested dwellings. ii.The proper air tightness rate for each building in the development cannot be attained, as only some underwent air tightness testing; a tested building might be much tighter than an untested one.

Why You Should Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing

Numerous businesses and home owners have been aided by AF Acoustics air tightness testing proficient skills in Gillingham. Because of the following guarantees of working with us, we are highly endorsed by our clients.

Helpful service and information

Our experience in serving diverse customers in Gillingham is proof of our ability to satisfy your requirements no matter the size and type of building, or your circumstance. Our qualified air tightness testing professionals will work around your schedule, so they fit into your project seamlessly, providing a quality service as conveniently as possible. 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 members of the Air Tightness and Measurement Association (ATTMA). ATTMA encourages proper air leakage applications and promotes quality air tightness screening, and has recognised our impeccable professional services.

When Can You Call Us to Test Your Building?

We want you to be able to access comprehensive air tightness testing in Gillingham whenever you need it. We have responsive scheduling options. Schedule for your air leakage testing at your comfort. We won’t make you wait or make the process complicated.

Test Certificates Get to You on the Next Day, Where Feasible

Our customers are eager to get their test results. AF Acoustics, which provides reliable, competent services, strives to issue test certificates on the next day.

Fair Pricing

Save money by paying lower rates at AF Acoustics. As a business with low overheads, we’re able to give you one of the best air leakages testing services in Gillingham at reduced costs.

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

Air Tightness Tests for Any Kind of building in Gillingham

We can test any building in Gillingham for air leakages irrespective of its size, complex nature or type. Our tests are conducted by highly qualified professionals and we issue ATTMA certificates. The best way to determine how much air seeps through a building’s fabric is through air permeability testing. 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. Although your building is required to have a rating result of 10m3/h/m2, the actual result might have to be lower than that due to carbon emission requirements. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM. Several problems are caused by uncontrolled ventilation. They are:

  • Infiltration of cold air
  • Wind washing and thermal bypassing, which is when air moves through the inner building of a building fabric to create convective loops inside the walls, making the building less energy efficient
  • Reduction in heat and CO2 emission.

The warm air within a building rises, leading to the influx of cold air through gap, cracks and other openings in the building envelope. The increasing difference in air pressure results in infiltration and exfiltration of air. Air permeability testing is a legal requirement for constructions in Gillingham. This way, they can have high energy performance, meet building regulations requirements and get signed off by building control. With air leakage tests, business areas are more comfortable for employees and customers. It will also help you reduce the cost of maintaining heating or cooling in your commercial building, making it more productive.

Part L Test Explained

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. The air-tightness of a building is known as its ‘air permeability’ or leakage 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. The highest air permeability target set is 10m3/h/m2 but your building might need a much lower one. 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 complete all your Part F and Part L testing requirements. In addition to conducting your air pressure test and extract fan flow rate testing, we can put you in contact with professionals who provide SAP calculations, Energy Performance Certificates, and water calculations.
Approved Document F of the Building Regulations requires that all mechanical extract fans in new dwellings be subjected to a flow rate test. The Building Control Body (BCB) has to see the results of the test as part of its sign-off procedure. Examining, documenting and submitting reports of extract fans’ test can be done using three methods. AF Acoustics test process is the third method. It uses a vane anemometer and is called the minimum benchmark method.


What Kinds of Air Tightness Testing Services Do We Offer?

There are several levels of air leakage testing based on the kind, size and multifaceted aspects of a dwelling. Here they are: A single blower door fan is the instrument used for the first level to examine single buildings and smaller non-dwellings from 1m3 to 4000m3. Level 2: Air pressure testing for simple and complex buildings larger than 4000 m³ gross envelope volume which does not include large and complex, high rise (LCHR) buildings, and phased handover/zonal buildings. Level 3: Air Pressure Testing for LCHR buildings, phased and zonal handover buildings is carried out.

We Offer Air Leakage Testing of Apartments and Houses to Meet Approved Document L1 Standard

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/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L1A. A building has to achieve a lower rate to meet the carbon dioxide emission target. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. An excessive amount of air leakage results in greater energy expenses, heat reduction and carbon dioxide emissions.

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

Air leakage testing is the measurement of uncontrolled ventilation from a building’s fabric. The air leakage test result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building. Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L2A. The maximum air permeability rate for a dwelling tested is 10m3/h/m2. The SAP or SBEM assessment for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. The air permeability target can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. An excessive amount of air leakage leads to greater energy expenses, heat reduction, carbon dioxide discharge and draughts.

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

We provide smoke shaft tests to make sure it is air tight enough to let the automatic opening ventilation work optimally when it’s installed and commissioned. When there is a fire, the auto opening vents play an important part in expelling smoke in multi-storey buildings. An air tight shaft creates sufficient pressure difference and ensures that the fans and vents perform properly to draw out smoke from a dwelling and save its occupants. To ensure that automatic opening ventilations work properly, their manufacturers have placed an air permeability target for them which we work towards. An air pressure test is conducted using a fan installed in the shaft. The openings for ventilation grilles and extract points on each floor are closed so that the state of the shaft itself is known. Once the test is completed and successful, the automatic opening vents are installed.

Measurement of Air Flow of Domestic Ventilation

The mandate to construct well insulated and air tight buildings, has made it crucial for satisfactory, enhanced and balanced ventilation systems to be installed. Extract fans are tested by us. This test is required by law and it enables a building have a high-quality ventilation system that is efficient and removes pollutants and odours while limiting humidity in rooms, 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

When a building is checked for the quantity of air flowing through the gaps in the fabric, it has undergone an air tightness test. When air leakage is reduced in a building, the occupants will not experience discomfort and the energy performance will increase.

External claddings and the internal building finishes might obscure a gap in the building fabric. This makes it hard to notice and can results to potential air leakage. To ensure that the air tightness of a building is optimal, gaps and spaces in the building have to be found and measured.

Under the new policies of building developments, the lowest number of domestic buildings developers have to test in an area is 20%. However, this depends on the quantity of different house kinds to ensure there is a regular sample throughout the survey. We recommend that all dwellings be tested, as there is a penalty for developments that are not tested.

Pre-Test Requirements

The client needs to send our test engineers the drawings of the development (plans and elevations) and target air permeability requirements. An Air tightness test can be done in 30 – 60mins. Wind speed should not exceed 6m/s. Test engineers need to know the size of a building envelope and requirements before coming to the site. 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

We undertake the building envelope calculations before we arrive on the site. The building envelope, is the physical barrier between the exterior and interior of a construction. The calculations are taken from the drawings. These are then incorporated into our calculations when we air test the property.

Envelope Area Air Permeability

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

Air Exchange Rate

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

Evaluating a Cold Roof Envelope Area

When evaluating the roof area of a building, it is important to ensure the area is the same as that of the ground floor. A cold roof is a roof that has the thermal insulation put in the ceiling with wide space between the insulation and pitched roof rafters.

Measuring a Warm Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

In a warm roof, the main insulation is placed below the roof covering. The envelope area is the boundary or barrier containing the overall internal ‘conditioned space’ separating it from the external environment (or non-conditioned spaces and adjacent buildings), and this is located on the warm side of the insulation.

Building Preparation

  • Turning off mechanical vents
  • Shutting all windows and internal doors
  • Temporarily seal vents and smoke vents
  • Filling the drainage stops

Site Test Process

Check weather conditions (wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure); Fix a fan to an aperture, usually the door, in the building. Set up testing equipment. Note the air flow volume from the fan. This is the same as the air leakage from the building envelope. Increase the speed of the fan slowly till it gets to 55-60Pa. The pressure differences in the building at each fan speed should be calculated.

Air Leakage Calculation

We analyse the recorded air tightness test data and present the results to the client in a technical report. In the event of test failure, we advise the client on appropriate mitigation measures. Our expert knowledge will help in highlighting the areas of air leakage. Air Leakage Testing and Compliance

When a building has the right kind of ventilation (mechanical, natural or a combination of both) and has a low permeability rate, the advantages to the occupants are numerous. Some of them are: The occupants will pay less for heat because less heat is lost and they won’t need equipment with high heating capacities. Better ventilation system Your building will have less mould since moisture cannot escape into holes and cavities. Fewer draughts and enhanced comfort From a single dwelling to the largest commercial development, we offer stress-free compliance measurements to Part L Building Regulations and Building Standards. They also ensure that you spend less money. Here are the services we provide:

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

Best Practice Procedures

When constructing a new building, it should be built air tight, as stated by Building Regulations – Approved Document L1A. The regulation is focused on the conservation of fuel and power usage. The dwelling should be tested for air permeability in line with existing building standards, as stipulated by Approved Document Part L1A.

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

Certain technical standards are to be employed during air pressure test in the UK, as specified by ATTMA, building regulations and other documents. The technical standards give details regarding the following: BS EN 13829:2001: “Thermal Performance of Buildings. Determination of air permeability of buildings. Fan pressurisation method” and ISO 9972:2015: “Thermal performance of buildings – Determination of permeability of buildings – Fan pressurization method”. That way, testing companies use the same 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)

Test for air permeability must be conducted on your new constructions. This is stated in Approved Document L1A. 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. A development with only two dwellings may not undergo a test if a suggested value of 15m3/h/m2 is stipulated in the DER/TER measurements. To find if your building falls into this category, contact your SAP assessor. The required process for testing buildings for air tightness has been declared in ATTMA TSL1 for occupied buildings and ATTMA TSL2 for unoccupied ones. Air leakage testing is required on all residential developments (this may be a sample of units) 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 Regulations Part L (England And Wales)

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

Air pressure testers have three levels

  • A single fan is the instrument used for the first level to examine single buildings and smaller non-dwellings from 1m3 to 4000m3.
  • The second level examines simple and complex buildings greater than 4000m3, with the exclusion of large zonal buildings and complex high-rise buildings unless a level three tester is in charge of the procedure.
  • Level Three: Testing for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings, phased handover/zonal buildings and other complex buildings is carried out by level three experts.

Report for Air Leaks Test

Air tightness reports are issued by accredited firms that carry out air permeability tests on buildings of different sizes or complexities. 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.

Results of the Test

AF Acoustics will make sure the result is written in line with test requirements, detect any part of the test that is not in line with the standards required and check actual air tightness against required rate. We make sure our report has the name of the building, customer, address and tester. 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 List –Ensure you thoroughly check the following equipment. Fill up drainage traps. Here are the pieces of equipment to cover, fill or seal:

  • Extract fans
  • Hoods of cookers
  • Drainage traps
  • Metre boxes
  • Boilers
  • Radiators, fans and heaters
  • Hot water tank
  • Chimney
  • Air bricks
  • Skirting and coving
  • Bath panel
  • Tumble drier extracts
  • MVHR
  • Soil panel

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.