Northfleet Air Tightness Testing Certified by AF-Acoustics

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.

The energy performance of a building can be affected by air leakage. To address this problem, alterations to building regulations have been made. 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. Located in Northfleet, 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. If you want specialist air pressure testing services in Northfleet, 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.

AF Acoustics provides services that are cost effective and of high standard.

Our Guarantee

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

Air Tightness Testing – What Does It Mean?

Air tightness testing involves calculating the quantity of air which escapes through holes in the building fabric. Other names for air tightness testing are air leakage testing and 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 leakage is uncontrolled ventilation. Air tightness testing is the approved method for gauging the entire air that has leaked through a building fabric. 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. Because the government is striving to scale back carbon dioxide discharge from new buildings, building rules now focuses on reducing air loss from the building envelope. This helps reduce CO2 emissions. Air tightness testing is a crucial activity that

  • shows the air leaking from gaps in a building.

Most building designs take air pressure into account at the beginning of construction in order to have an air-tight envelope and measure up to the required standards. A building that is air tight A building that is air tight is more economical and ensures less drafts ALS energy efficient.

Air Leakage, what Is It?

Air leakage is where air enters and leaves a building uncontrollably through cracks and holes in the building fabric. It is also referred to as infiltration and is the opposite of ventilation which involves well managed circulation of air in a building. 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. 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.

What Are the Problems Air Leakage Can Cause?

Heat loss within a building can be caused by air leakage. During windy weather, cold air infiltrates a building through the openings in its fabric. This results in heat loss. Once there’s infiltration, exfiltration will occur in another part of the building. Warm, moist air seeps into cool cavities in the building’s fabric. The water vapour in the moist air condenses on the inner wall surface holes. After a while, it is absorbed into building materials and diffuses, causing potential structural problems. Wet wooden framing or sheathing can rot and break down, diminishing its strength.

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.

Successfully managing the movement of air into and outside the building will limit the damaging effects of moisture. Air leakage and vapour diffusion are minimised when barriers are installed. Passive or active ventilation is required to reduce water vapour, moisture odour and pollutants.


Why Must We Do 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. Fossil fuel is burnt to heat up a building. This leads to a discharge of carbon dioxide which increases global warming. When air leakage is controlled, heat loss and energy used by the heating system are reduced. 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 degrees of air leaks cause huge problems such as expensive remedial work on the building and medical problems.

Recommended Period for Air Tightness Test

It is best practice to conduct at least two air tightness testing procedures, one early in the build and another at the end. The results of the test can affect a building’s energy ratings because they play a part in SBEM and SAP calculations. Individual property is not tested in a large residential development. The test is done on different types of houses within the area. 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.

If your building has not been pressure tested, its assessed air permeability would be the average score of buildings like yours 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 AF Acoustics Is the Right Choice for Your Air Tightness Testing

At AF Acoustics, our air tightness testing expertise has helped many home and business owners in Northfleet. We come highly recommended by our clients because of the following guarantees.

Expert information and service

Our experience in serving diverse customers in Northfleet 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. If you need knowledgeable and trustworthy air leakage experts who can provide exemplary results, AF Acoustics is the team you need in Northfleet.

We Are Registered Members of the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA)

We are registered with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), an organisation that is centred on technical excellence in all air leakage measurement methods. ATTMA, the leading air leakage testing body in the UK, has recognised the quality of our services.

When Can You Call Us to Test Your Building?

You can access our complete air tightness test in Northfleet at anytime. We offer responsive scheduling options. You can schedule for air tightness testing at your convenience. We guarantee that there will be no delays or difficulties.

You Could Get Your Certificates on the Next Day

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.

Affordable Fees

AF Acoustics offers competitive fees in Northfleet. 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

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

We conduct air permeability tests on residential and commercial buildings of all sizes and types. After the test, an ATTMA certificate is given to you. Air tightness test checks the extent of uncontrolled air moving through openings in the building envelope. The test results are described as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre..

Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L1A and L2A. The design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM of a construction records its required air permeability rate. While the law requires the highest air permeability rate to be 10m3/h/m2, your building might have to get a lower rate to meet the carbon emissions target. 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.

Infiltration/exfiltration is the effect of air pressure difference. Warm air rises while cold air falls. The warm air within a building rises and air pressure at the base falls; this results in air coming in through doors, windows and leakage points. To get signed off by building control in Northfleet, all buildings are to undergo air tightness testing and measure up to the required energy efficiency standards. With air leakage tests, business areas are more comfortable for employees 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 leaks through gaps and spaces in the building fabric such as service penetrations, walls and roof junctions. Sometimes, this is not obvious to occupants. 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 comply with Part L the measured air permeability minimum requirement is 10m3/h/m2 but usually your air permeability target will be much lower. Air leakage affects the building’s energy performance and is required to meet Building Regulations Part L and measure up to the standard for low carbon buildings.

A Description of Part F Test

We will help you with all your Parts L and F requirements. With our organisation, you receive:

  • Expert fan flow rate testing
  • Experienced air pressure testing
  • Professionals who provide Energy Performance Certificate, water and SAP calculations.

Approved Document F of the Building Regulations demands that all mechanical extract fans in newly completed constructions undergo a flow rate test. Your building won’t be signed off until Building Control Body (BCB) has been presented the results of the test. There are 3 available methods for examining, recording and reporting the testing of extract fans. Using a vane anemometer, our testing procedure follows Method 3 – The minimum benchmark method.


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. 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. Air tightness testing for phased, zonal handover and LCHR constructions is done.

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

Air pressure testing, involves the calculation of air escaping through openings in a building. The result is written as m3 per hour per square metre of building. Air tightness testing is required for new builds. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Excess air leakage causes heat loss and discomfort due to the influx of cold air, also causing increased energy bill expense.

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

The measurement of air emitted by a building is tested to ascertain air permeability rating. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of air pressure (m3 per hour) per square metre of building fabric. Air pressure testing is compulsory, according to Approved Document L2A. The highest air permeability rate for your dwelling when tested should be 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. 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 test the integrity of the smoke shaft to ensure the automatic opening ventilation is placed in the best condition. 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 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. To ensure that automatic opening ventilations work properly, their manufacturers have placed an air permeability target for them which we work towards. The shaft is tested for air permeability by using a fan that is fixed 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. Once the test is completed and successful, the automatic opening vents are installed.

Measurement of Air Flow of Domestic Ventilation

Buildings that are well insulated and air tight are the standard for buildings. As a result, a high-quality ventilation system that is adequate and performs as required is vital. We have the capacity to test 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. Part F Building Regulations also require standard intermittent extractor fans in new buildings (such as bathroom and kitchen extractors) to have their air flow rates measured on site and the results submitted to the building control body before completion.

Particular Test and Building Readiness Operation

An air tightness test measures the extent of air leakage in a building. The greater the air tightness of a building, the more comfortable the occupants are and the higher its energy performance.

Holes and spaces in a building’s fabric might be hidden by the internal building finishes, making them hard to find. The best solution to demonstrate a building’s air tightness level is to check for leakage paths in the building envelope.

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 buildings be tested as those that aren’t are penalised.

Pre-Test

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:

  • 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. The building envelope, is the physical barrier between the exterior and interior of a construction. The measurement is obtained from the construction drawings, and put in our calculations to conduct the test.

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 Changes Per Hour

Air change rates are often used as rules of thumb in ventilation design but they are seldom used as the actual basis of design or a calculation. The number of inhabitants and area of residence are used in measuring residential ventilation rates.

Evaluating a Cold Roof Envelope Area

This is essential to determine if the roof area is the same as the ground floor area. 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

In a warm roof, the main insulation is placed below the roof covering. 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

Examine the wind speed, barometric pressure and temperature. Place the fan on an aperture within the building envelope. Fix the instrument for testing. Using the fan, measure the air flow volume, from the building fabric. Slowly raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to 55-60Pa. Record how the air pressure differs at each fan speed.

Evaluating Air Leakage

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 Tightness 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: Lower heating bills due to less heat loss, with potentially smaller requirements for heating and cooling equipment capacities Better ventilation system Lower levels of mould due to less moisture collecting in gaps and cavities. Thermal comfort is enhanced because air infiltration is lower. From the smallest to biggest building or development, we adhere to Building Regulations Part L and Building Standards. We provide air tightness testing, consultancy, design reviews and support services on all buildings, both dwellings and non-dwellings in Northfleet. We also provide cost-effective, local service that complies with all relevant Building Standards.


Best Practice Processes

Building Regulation Part L1A 2010 stipulates that all new buildings must have low air permeability. 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 Permeability on Building Fabrics, According to L1 Technical Standard.

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

Part L 2010 Building Regulation Standards for England and Wales

Test for air permeability must be conducted on your new constructions. This is stated in Approved Document L1A. For development with two or more buildings, three units of each dwelling type or 50% of the dwelling type should be tested. 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. The required process for testing buildings for air tightness has been declared in ATTMA TSL1 for occupied buildings and ATTMA TSL2 for unoccupied ones. Both residential areas and many non-Dwellings are to take the air leakage test. 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 Part L (England And Wales)

An industry-wide competence scheme endorsed by the government is carried out by the ATTMA. It was launched in January 2015 as stipulated in the Technical Standard L1 and L2. Its basis is the National Occupation Standard (NOS) and Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) documents standard for testing and essentials for testing knowledge.

Air pressure testers have three levels

  • Air tightness testing for single buildings and smaller non-dwellings not more than 4000m3 is done with a fan.
  • Second Level – Testing is done in buildings with 4000m3 and higher. Large high rise and phased handover buildings are excluded from the test except a level three tester is in charge.
  • Level Three: Testing for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings, phased handover/zonal buildings and other complex buildings is carried out by level three experts.

Air Tightness Test Report

Air tightness reports are issued by accredited firms that carry out air permeability tests on buildings of different sizes or complexities. Sealed extraction fans are sealed for testing and the details and results of the test are written in a report afterwards. The organisation makes sure the report meets the company and government’s requirements.

Air Tightness Test Results

AF Acoustics will make sure the result is written in line with test requirements, detect any part of the test that is not in line with the standards required and check actual air tightness against required rate. Clients’ test reports contain their names, construction, address; the tester’s name is also included. In the event that a building fails the test, we suggest methods of improving the building and what repairs to do on the building fabric if a retest is required.

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 Permeability Pathway Checklist – Use this checklist to make sure you are ready for the test. Ask yourself, “Have I sealed any visible opening?” Check the following appliances.

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

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.