Chingford-Green Air Tightness Testing Certified by AF-Acoustics

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. Air tightness testing became an integral part of building regulations for new buildings, commercial developments and revamped buildings in 2006 after Document L was reviewed.

Because air leakage is the process whereby air escapes through any crack or hole in the building envelope and influences its energy performance, building regulations have been modified to ensure a building has adequate air tightness. Our certificates for air tightness testing are registered with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), a professional body that focuses on high quality air tightness testing and air permeability applications. We are a dedicated and approved air leakage testing service in Chingford-Green and we can provide air permeability measurement whenever you require. You can also call or email us for any of these services:

  • Assessments
  • Consultancy
  • Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing.

Because we are ATTMA members, any air tightness certificate we issue shows that the construction has met building regulation standards. We provide air leakage testing in a professional manner by explaining the testing procedures and highlighting leakage areas in the building fabric. We also suggest long-term remedies based on the results of the tests. 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

What is the Assessment of a Building’s Air Tightness?

Air tightness testing is a method of measuring the extent to which air is lost through leaks in the building fabric. It can also be called air pressure testing or air leakage 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. Too much air leakage leads to unnecessary heat loss and discomfort for the occupants. The government aims to lessen the quantity of air flowing from newly built buildings. Therefore, regulations have been put in place to reduce uncontrolled ventilation from the building envelope, sustaining the right temperature conditions without using so much fuel. Calculating the emission of air from a building’s fabric, establishes the energy efficiency of the building. Building plans will often consider air tightness at the beginning stages of development so as to measure up to stricter building 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 Explained

Air leakage occurs when air escapes through holes and gaps in a building. Also known as infiltration, it is different from ventilation, which is air that enters a building in a controlled manner. Once the atmosphere is windy, draughts infiltrate the building through holes in the fabric, leading to heat reduction and discomfort. How do you know if a building is energy efficient? By testing its air permeability. This lets the occupants know if the building meets standard air-tightness requirements. In 2006, air tightness of newly constructed buildings and non-dwellings with a floor area over 500m² became compulsory in England and Wales.

Air Leakage’s Resulting Outcomes

When air escapes uncontrollably from a building, heat reduction occurs. 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 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.

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.

Successfully managing the movement of air into and outside the building will limit the damaging effects of moisture. A properly installed air barrier minimises air leakage, which, in turn, minimises the potential for water vapour to condense on vulnerable wall structures. Correct ventilation, whether passive or active, ensures fresh air circulates through the building, eliminating water vapour, moist odour and polluting substances.


The Importance of Air Tightness Test

Air tightness is an important factor in a building’s energy efficiency and is part of government’s plan to battle environmental change by regulating the energy performance of buildings. Heating buildings contribute to global warming and CO2 emissions, since fossil fuels are used to create heat. The best way to reduce the quantity of fossil fuel burnt is by stopping air leakage which reduces heat loss. Uncontrolled air leakage also results in health problems. Coupled with poor air circulation, it leads to the growth of mould and mildew. To “Construct tight, ventilate right” is the best practice. 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 Your Building Needs an Air Tightness Test

A building should ideally be air tightness tested early in the construction process and again at the end of the building project, although sometimes only the final check is carried out. The test results are part of SBEM and SAP calculations, therefore they influence the total energy ratings of new buildings. It’s not a necessity to perform tests on each property, rather, different kinds of houses are selected and tested. 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.

The assessed air permeability of an untested residence is a calculation of the average test score of the same kind of dwelling in the development, increased by 2m3/h/m2 at 50 Pa. It’s better to test each property because selective testing does not give a realistic picture of individual buildings. Besides, air permeability rates are difficult to achieve for untested buildings in such areas due to the +2m3/h/m2 penalty.

Why Pick AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing?

With AF Acoustics, homes and businesses in Chingford-Green have been getting quality air tightness testing. We come highly recommended by our clients because of the following guarantees.

Helpful service and expert knowledge

Our vast experience in serving a variety of clients in Chingford-Green guarantees we have the expertise to satisfy your needs regardless your unique circumstances, type or size of property. 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 personnel will use their expertise to provide lasting solutions. Contact AF Acoustics in Chingford-Green –the right team for your building.

Registered member of the Air Tightness Testing & Measurement Association (ATTMA)

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 Chingford-Green 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

In order to satisfy our clients, AF Acoustics strives to provide test results and certificates on the next day.

Competitive Pricing

AF Acoustics, a small business with low overheads, offers one of the best prices in Chingford-Green and guarantees professional services.

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

Get Air Leakages Test for Homes and Commercial buildings in Chingford-Green

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 results are registered as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building.

Approved Document L1A and L2A requires that buildings know their air permeability rates by taking the air leakage test. A maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2 is required. However, a building has to achieve a lower rate to meet the carbon emission target. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. With air leakage comes heat loss, greater CO2 discharge, draughts, thermal bypassing and wind washing and poor 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. In Chingford-Green, the law demands that all new buildings be tested for air pressure before they can be approved and signed off by building control. This enables dwellings achieve energy efficiency standards. For your commercial building, air tightness testing will ensure your staff and clients are in a comfortable environment. It will also help you reduce the cost of maintaining heating or cooling in your commercial building, making it 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. Part L of the Building Regulations requires that all non-domestic buildings which have a gross floor area greater than 500m2, be subject to mandatory air permeability tests. For domestic dwellings, a sample of houses (in a development) must be tested. Part L has also set a maximum air permeability target rate of 10m3/h/m2, but a building usually needs lower levels. Air permeability is key in the following areas: i. A construction’s energy performance, ii. CO2 emission targets iii. Building Regulations Part L standards

The Part F Test

We can provide you all that you need to serve all your Part L and Part F requirements. First, we provide extract fan flow rate and air leakage testing. Then we put you in contact with competent professional to work on your Energy Performance Certificates, SAP and water calculations.
Get the mechanical extract fans tested for flow rate. This is what Building Regulations Approved Document F requires. The Building Control Body (BCB) has to see the results of the test as part of its sign-off procedure. There are three alternative methods which can be followed to test, record and report the testing of extractor fans. We use a vane anemometer, which is the third method called the minimum benchmark method, to conduct extract fan flow rate tests.


Different Ways We Test for Air Permeability

There are several levels of air leakage testing based on the kind, size and multifaceted aspects of a dwelling. Here they are: Level One: Testing for the air pressure of single buildings and smaller non-dwellings of 4000m3 gross envelope volume and below, a single blower door fan is used. 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 Three: At this level, tests for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings.

Approved Document L1 Air Pressure Testing of Houses

Air tightness testing determines the extent of air leaking out a building’s envelope. The result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Document L1A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. In order to comply with the carbon emission target, it is necessary to achieve a lower air permeability rate. The design-stage SAP assessment SBEM of a construction records its required air permeability rate. Excess air leakage causes heat loss and discomfort due to the influx of cold air, also causing increased energy bill expense.

Air Tightness Testing of Commercial Buildings to Meet Approved Document L2A Requirements

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 leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L2A. 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. The design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment of a construction records its required air permeability rate. Uncontrolled air leakage can cause several problems. They are: infiltration of cold air, discomfort, reduction in heat, and higher CO2 emission rate.

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

To ensure that the auto opening vent will perform optimally when fitted and commissioned, we test the smoke shaft to verify its air tightness. Automatic opening vents are crucial during fire emergencies in storey buildings, as they clear out smoke from the 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 taken for the smoke shaft by installing a fan inside. 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.

Air Flow Measurement of Domestic Ventilation (extraction fan testing)

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 test fan extraction rates. This has not only been made compulsory by Building Regulations; it also helps reduce humidity in rooms, bathrooms and kitchens and expel pollutants. 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.

Specific Test and Building Preparation Procedure

Air tightness tests calculate the level of air leakage a building has and if it is excessive. If the rate of air pressure is good, the energy performance of a building will be high and the inhabitants will be comfortable.

Holes and spaces in a building’s fabric might be hidden by the internal building finishes, making them hard to find. The only satisfactory way to show that a building fabric is airtight is to detect and measure leakage paths within the building fabric.

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. There is a penalty for untested constructions. Therefore, we suggest air leakage tests for all buildings.

What Should You Do Before Testing Your Building?

Send the drawings of your dwelling (plans and elevations) and its target air permeability requirements to our test engineers. The duration of air pressure testing is 30 to 60 minutes in most cases and the wind speed should not be more than 6m/s. Test engineers need the drawings and air permeability details from clients so that they can know the size of the building envelope and other information before arriving at the building. To get the site ready, make the place air tight by closing and securing all external doors, windows, ventilation and smoke vents. Remember to turn off range cookers or stoves a day before testing as well as mechanical ventilation systems, and fill all drainage traps.

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

Building Envelope Measurement

We conduct building envelope calculations prior to the test. The building envelope is the surface area of the thermal boundary of the building. The calculations are taken from the drawings. These are then incorporated into our calculations when we air test the property.

Air Permeability from 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 changes per hour are crucial to ventilation design, but it is only occasionally used as the base for the design or calculation. The number of inhabitants and area of residence are used in measuring residential ventilation rates.

Measuring a Cold Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

This is essential to determine if the roof area is the same as the ground floor area. A cold roof has the insulation at the horizontal ceiling level and a large void or space between the insulation and the pitched roof rafters.

Warm Roof Envelope Area Measurement

A warm roof is a roof where the insulation is installed on top of the roof structure. The envelope area is the boundary between the internal environment and external environment (adjacent buildings), and can be found on the insulation’s warm part.

Preparing the Building

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

Process for Testing the building

Check all weather conditions such as temperature, wind speed and barometric pressure. Fix a fan to an aperture, usually the door, in the building. Set up the equipment for air tightness testing. Using the fan, measure the air flow volume, from the building fabric. Gradually increase the fan speed from 20-25 Pa to a maximum of 55-60Pa. The pressure differences in the building at each fan speed should be calculated.

Evaluating Air Leakage

We can determine where air leakage is occurring through our test procedure. Once the test has been completed, we crosscheck the data and send a report to you. If the test fails, we will advise you about corrective measures. Testing for Air Tightness & Meeting Part L Standards

An airtight building has several positive impacts when combined with an appropriate ventilation system (whether natural, mechanical, or hybrid): Your heating expenses are less because heat doesn’t escape through a permeable building, and you won’t require appliances with more heating capability. Better performing ventilation system Lower levels of mould due to less moisture collecting in gaps and cavities. Infiltration of air is reduced and the inhabitants are more comfortable. Be assured that you’ll get a test that meets all the regulations and standards no matter how big or small your building is. We provide air tightness testing, consultancy, design reviews and support services on all buildings, both dwellings and non-dwellings in Chingford-Green. We also provide cost-effective, local service that complies with all relevant Building Standards.


Good & Best Practice Methods

Any new building has to be air tight. The 2010 Approved Document L1A of Building Regulations has made it compulsory. Less fuel and power are consumed by buildings. Part L1A states that new dwellings should be tested for air tightness in accordance with existing regulations.

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

The Air Tightness Testing & Measurement Association (ATTMA) provides the technical standard to be followed for the testing of dwellings in the UK as set out in Building Regulations and other documents. This Technical Standard provides detailed guidance and clarification of 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”, in order to ensure consistency by testing companies.

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

If you’re constructing a new dwelling, you have to comply with Approved Document L1A’s stipulation to test it. 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. 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. An SAP assessor can decide which buildings can use the assumed value successfully. A testing procedure required by Building Regulations is expressed in ATTMA TSL1 for dwellings and ATTMA TSL2 for non-dwellings. Air leakage testing is compulsory for residential areas and certain Non-Dwellings. If your building has added an estimated assessed rate of 15 m3/h/m2 in its calculations or its useful floor space is less than 500 m2, it may not have to take the test.

Building Regulations for England and Wales, Part L

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. The scheme echoes the conditions of the Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) and the National Occupation Standard (NOS) documents.

There are three levels of testers:

  • Level One: Testing for the air pressure of single buildings and smaller non-dwellings of 4000m3 gross envelope area and below, is done with a single 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 3: These are air tightness experts who can cover large, complex and or high-rise buildings and or phased handover or zonal compartmentalisation.

Report for Air Leaks Test

Authorised companies, who test buildings of different types, sizes and complexities, give air tightness reports. Extraction fans will be sealed temporarily; the results of the test are recorded in a short report. The report adheres to the company’s methods and all standards and requirements of Building Regulations.

Test Outcomes

AF Acoustics will ensure the test result is written in accordance with the test standard requirements, identify any deviations from the relevant standards within the report and check air tightness against target value. 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

Send us your building design air permeability target and crosscheck the list below before we get to the 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.

Here are the appliances you should seal temporarily;

  • Cooker hoods
  • Extractor fans/MVHR terminals
  • Trickle vents
  • Chimney flues and air bricks

Air Tightness Testing FAQ’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The common leakage sites are:

All pipe works within the kitchen and bathrooms

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

Our team of experts can support you through the following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. Air tightness testing applies to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gerard Finn

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