ATTMA Licensed Air Tightness Testing in City-of-Westminster

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.

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. 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. AF Acoustics, a licensed air tightness testing company, is available to provide testing services at your request. Our address is City-of-Westminster. You can also call or email us for any of these services:

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

Our air leakage test certificate is approved by ATTMA and is an indication that a building has been signed off by building control. We don’t just provide air tightness testing. We describe the process thoroughly, give expert advice on areas that could be problematic during testing, and suggest improvements based on the air permeability rating of the building. We deliver professional value for money service to the highest standards.

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?

When a building is assessed during an air tightness test; the internal thermal envelope of the building is examined for leakages and the quantity of air passing through it. Air tightness testing is also known as 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 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). 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. Regulations now concentrate on minimising air leakage from the building envelope thereby reducing the amount of fuel burned for maintenance. This helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Calculating the emission of air from a building’s fabric, establishes the energy efficiency of the building. With the introduction of tougher regulations, building designs will often consider air tightness at the early stages of the construction process, ensuring attention to detail during construction to create an air-tight envelope. Incorporating this at the beginning of the construction process makes the development more cost effective and energy efficient.

Air Leakage Explained

Air leakage is where air enters and leaves a building uncontrollably through cracks and holes in the building fabric. Also called infiltration, it differs from ventilation which is the regular, planned and restrained flow of air into a building. As air leakage is uncontrolled, too much air may enter the house during cold or windy weather, leading to excessive heat loss and uncomfortable cold draughts. 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. Air tightness testing is compulsory for all new constructions and non dwellings with a floor area over 500m² in England and Wales. This came into effect in 2006.

Air Leakage’s Resulting Outcomes

Heat loss within a building can be caused by air leakage. During windy or cold weather, the infiltration of uncontrolled air through cracks in a building envelope occurs, 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 warm air is filled with moisture, which hits the inner wall surface and condenses. Moisture is sucked into the building material, and this can lead to serious structural issues. There could be a decrease in the toughness and solidity of wet wooden covering due to rot.

The building becomes structurally damaged as time goes on.
Other impacts include:

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

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. Passive or active ventilation is required to reduce water vapour, moisture odour and pollutants.


Why You Should Conduct an Air Tightness Test

Air tightness is an integral element of energy efficiency. It is part of government’s plan to overcome climate change through advancements in the energy performance of buildings. Home heating involves burning up fossil fuel which produces carbon dioxide and aids global warming. Reducing air leakage reduces heat loss, which in turn reduces the amount of energy a heating system uses. Poor degrees of ventilation and high levels of uncontrolled air leakage encourage mould growth and excessive moisture. This could potentially cause medical issues. 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 Is an Air Tightness Test Needed?

Best practice says that air tightness tests should be carried out early in construction and after the final phase. The test results are used in SAP and SBEM calculations, this impacts the energy rating of new building. It’s not a necessity to perform tests on each property, rather, different kinds of houses are selected and tested. 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 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 City-of-Westminster. Because of the following guarantees of working with us, we are highly endorsed by our clients.

Expert information and service

Having served many clients in City-of-Westminster, we have the expertise to work on any type or size of building. Our air tightness experts are certified, well-mannered and competent. They’re trained to deliver a quality service, working as an extension of your project. If you need knowledgeable and trustworthy air leakage experts who can provide exemplary results, AF Acoustics is the team you need in City-of-Westminster.

Registered Members of the Leading Air Tightness Body in the UK

AF Acoustics is a member of ATTMA, an association of specialists that concentrates on promoting the best air tightness measurements and air permeability testing techniques. It is the leading air permeability testing body in the UK and has recognised our competence and services.

Responsive scheduling

We would like to give your building in City-of-Westminster a thorough air leakage test whenever it is needed. We have responsive scheduling options. Schedule for your air leakage testing at your comfort. There won’t be delays or complications once you’ve fixed a time.

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 Charges

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 City-of-Westminster at reduced costs.

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 City-of-Westminster

We can test any building in City-of-Westminster for air leakages irrespective of its size, complex nature or type. Our tests are conducted by highly qualified professionals and we issue ATTMA certificates. You can find out how much uncontrolled ventilation your building has by testing it for air leakages. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. of building fabric.

Air leakage testing is a requirement of 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.

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 City-of-Westminster, 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. With air leakage tests, business areas are more comfortable for employees and customers. The company also gets reduced heating and cooling costs and higher productivity rates.

Part L Test Explained

Air tightness testing has been a mandatory part of the Building Regulations for new build and refurbishment projects since Approved Document L was revised in 2006. Air tightness is also called air leakage rate or ‘air permeability’ rate. Air leakage can happen via holes and splits in the texture of the building envelope (divider/rooftop sections, service penetrations, etc), which may not be obvious. 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. 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

Part F Test Explained

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.
New buildings should ensure that all mechanical extract fans are tested for flow rate, as stipulated by Part F of the Building Regulations. Building Control Body (BCB) will see proof that the test has been conducted before signing off your building. There are three alternative methods which can be followed to test, record and report the testing of extractor fans. Using a vane anemometer, our testing procedure follows Method 3 – The minimum benchmark method.


Types of Air Leakage Testing Services We Offer

There are different levels of air tightness testing established from the size and complexity of a building. An overview of each is provided below: A single blower door fan is used for air tightness testing for single buildings and smaller non-dwellings not more than 4000m3. Second Level – Testing is done for building 4000m3 and higher, typically simple and complex dwellings. High rise and phased handover buildings are not part of this test. Air tightness testing for phased, zonal handover and LCHR constructions is done.

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

The measurement of air emitted by a building is tested to determine air permeability rating. The result of the air leakage test is expressed as a quantity of air leakage (mm3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Part L1A of Building Regulations stipulates that such tests be conducted. Your building may need a lower rate to meet the CO2 discharge target. 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.

Commercial Building Testing as Required by Approved Document L2A

Air pressure testing involves the calculation of air escaping through the openings in a building. 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. The test results have a limit; they shouldn’t be higher than 10m3/h/m2. A building will usually have to achieve a lower rate to meet the SAP or SBEM assessment. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and draught.

Testing the Smoke Shaft of Automatic Opening Vents

We test the integrity of the smoke shaft to ensure the automatic opening ventilation is placed in the best condition. The automatic-opening vents are a key part of the fire strategy for multi-storey buildings to extract smoke in the case of a fire. 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. AF Acoustics aims for the air permeability requirements of the automatic opening vent producers, so that their product can perform optimally. Fans are placed in the smoke shaft to conduct an air tightness test. Then the openings are sealed off in all its parts so that the shaft can be thoroughly examined. Smoke shaft tests occur before installing and commissioning automatic opening ventilation.

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 evaluate extraction rates. A building must have an optimal ventilation system to dispel humidity from bathrooms, kitchens and other rooms and extract odours and pollutants. We can also help you meet the Building Regulations targets. Part F states that all new constructions must have intermittent extractor fans whose air flow rates will be calculated and the results given to Building Control before the building work is finished.

Specific Test and Building Preparation Procedure

Air tightness test determines the level of air permeability in a building. The air tightness of a building improves its energy efficiency and internal environment.

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. The most acceptable approach to show that a building fabric is impermeable is to identify leakage paths within it.

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

Pre-Test Requirements

Send the drawings of your dwelling (plans and elevations) and its target air permeability requirements to our test engineers. 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. In preparing the site to create an air-tight environment:

  • Turning off all range stoves and cookers (if applicable)
  • Turning off mechanical vents
  • Shutting all windows and external doors
  • Sealing ventilation grids and smoke vents
  • Filling the drainage stops

Building Envelope Calculations

We undertake building envelope measurements before getting to the dwelling for the test. A building envelope is the boundary between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building. The building envelope calculations are taken from the drawings and used for our air tightness testing.

Air Permeability & The Envelope Area

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

Calculating the Envelope Area of a Cold Roof

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.

Measuring a Warm Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

A warm roof is a roof where the insulation is installed on top of the roof structure. The envelope area is the barrier between the conditioned space in the insulation and the unconditioned space outside.

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

How the Test Is Done

Check all weather conditions such as temperature, wind speed and barometric pressure. Connect a fan (or fans) to an aperture in the building envelope (e.g. door). Ensure all the testing equipment is ready. Record the air volume flow through the fan (this equals the air leaking through 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

Our competent engineers note the points of air leakage, examine the test data and send test results to the customer in a technical report. If the test fails, we inform clients on what to do about it. Air Leakage Testing and Compliance

A low leakage building that is properly ventilated, whether natural, hybrid or mechanical, is very beneficial. The benefits are: Your heating expenses are less because heat doesn’t escape through a permeable building, and you won’t require appliances with more heating capability. A functional ventilation system Reduced chance of mould and rot, as moisture is less likely to become trapped Fewer draughts, causing more 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

Good & Best Practice Methods

Building Regulation Part L1A 2010 stipulates that all new buildings must have low air permeability. This regulation was put in place to conserve fuel and power. Part L1A states that any new building must undergo an air pressure test, according to present regulations.

Air Tightness Testing of Dwellings That Meet Technical Standard L1L1

During air leakage tests, there are technical standards that must be used. This was mandated by ATTMA – Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association–to align with building regulations and other rules. BS EN 13829:2001 and ISO 9972:2015 are clarified by the technical standards. The technical standards provide rules that ensure testing organisations get the same results from the same kind of tests and are based on BS EN 13829 “Thermal Performance of Buildings. Determination of air permeability of buildings. Fan pressurisation method” and ISO 9972:2015, “Thermal performance of buildings – Determination of permeability of buildings – Fan pressurization method”.

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

Building Regulation Part L 2010 (England and Wales)

If you are constructing a dwelling the Approved Document L1A states that you must perform an air pressure test. 50% or 3 units of each dwelling type should undergo an air leakage test in the case of an area with two or more dwellings. If there are no more than two new dwellings, using an assumed value of 15m3/h/m2 in the DET/TER calculations might exempt them from air tightness testing. Your SAP assessor will let you know if you can do this for your building. There are different ways that Dwellings and Non-Dwellings should be tested. ATTMA TSL1 and ATTMA TSL2 have clearly stated these. Air leakage testing is required on all residential developments (this may be a sample of units) and certain Non-Dwellings. A building might not have to undertake the air leakage test if its floor space is less than 500m2 or its DET calculations have an air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 added to it.

Building Regulations for England and Wales, Part L

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

There are three levels of testers:

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

Outcome of Air Leak Test

Our test and subsequent results are conducted and written to meet standard requirements, highlight any deviation from the standards and crosscheck air pressure values against target values. We will ensure the report correctly identifies the tester, customer, building and its address. 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 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

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.