Cubitt-Town Air Tightness Testing, Licensed by AF-Acoustics

Air tightness testing determines the quantity of air coming out of cracks in a building. It is also known as air permeability testing or air leakage testing. 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.

Air leakage occurs through any opening in the building envelope and can affect a building’s energy performance, this has been addressed by changes to the building regulations. We register our air tightness certificates with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), an organisation that encourages proper air leakage applications and promotes quality air tightness screening. We are a dedicated and approved air leakage testing service in Cubitt-Town and we can provide air permeability measurement whenever you require. We also provide Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing, assessments and consultancy services.

As registered members of the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association, our air leakage test certificate is accepted as evidence for Building Regulations sign-off. 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. 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

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

Air tightness testing involves calculating the quantity of air which escapes through holes in the building fabric. Air tightness testing is also known as air pressure testing or air leakage testing. Air leakage is the uncontrolled flow of air through gaps and cracks in the fabric (often referred to as infiltration or draughts) and not ventilation, which is the controlled flow of air in and out of the building. Air tightness testing is the recognised method used to measure total air lost through leaks in a building fabric. This is often referred to as uncontrolled ventilation (draughts). When too much air leaks through a building’s fabric, heat loss occurs, making the occupants uncomfortable. 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. The introduction of tougher regulations has led to the construction of high-quality buildings. Building designs employ air tightness procedures from the early part of construction, creating a building that has adequate air tightness built into its design. When the building fabric is properly constructed to reduce air loss, the building is economical, and energy efficient.

Air Leakage Explained

This occurs when openings in a building lead to excess air flow into and out of the building. Also called infiltration, it differs from ventilation which is the regular, planned and restrained flow of air into a building. 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 plays a major part in the energy efficiency of buildings, and testing is necessary as a means of demonstrating that the air tightness targets used in building energy calculations have been achieved. In England and Wales, air tightness testing has been obligatory since 2006. All new dwellings and non-dwellings over 500m² are to be tested for air permeability.

Effects of Air Leakage

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. It doesn’t stop there. Warm, damp air within the building escapes the gaps in its envelope. When moist air hits a cooler surface within a wall structure, water vapour in the air can condense and collect inside these spaces. Moisture can then be absorbed in building materials and cause serious defects. The strength of the outer wooden covering is drastically reduced because it is wet.

These problems will eventually cause structural harm to the building.
Air leakage can also cause these problems:

  • Colder homes that result in discomfort
  • Higher heating expenses
  • Reduction in CO2 emissions’

These effects can be mitigated by controlling the circulation of air into and out of the building. Air leakage and vapour diffusion are minimised when barriers are installed. Correct ventilation, whether passive or active, ensures fresh air circulates through the building, eliminating water vapour, moist odour and polluting substances.


Why Must We Do an Air Tightness Test?

Climate change caused by carbon dioxide emission is an environmental hazard that government is trying to curb. Energy performance and air tightness is a key part of this plan. Heating buildings involves burning fossil fuel which increases CO2 emissions and causes global warming. 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. Best practice advice is to “Build tight, ventilate right”. High degrees of air leaks cause huge problems such as expensive remedial work on the building and medical problems.

When Should an Air Tightness Test Be Done?

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 results of the test can affect a building’s energy ratings because they play a part in SBEM and SAP calculations. It’s not a necessity to perform tests on each property, rather, different kinds of houses are selected and tested. This type of testing attracts a penalty of +2m3/h/m2, consequently, if the target result is 5m3/h/m2, a lower score of 3 would have to be attained.

Where the dwelling has not been pressure tested, the assessed air permeability is the average test result obtained from other dwellings of the same dwelling type on the development, increased by +2.0 m3/h/m2 at 50 Pa. Selective testing is not advisable, as it does not give a realistic picture of the air tightness of each individual building. A tested property might be a lot tighter than an untested property. Also, the penalty implemented on the untested houses make air permeability rates very difficult to achieve.

The reasons Why You Should Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing

AF Acoustics air tightness testing professionalism has helped many homes and business owners in Cubitt-Town. Because of the following guarantees of working with us, we are highly endorsed by our clients.

Expert information and service

Our vast experience in serving a variety of clients in Cubitt-Town guarantees we have the expertise to satisfy your needs regardless your unique circumstances, type or size of property. Our accredited air testing experts are polite and competent. They are trained to provide the service you need and fit around your project. Our personnel will use their expertise to provide lasting solutions. Contact AF Acoustics in Cubitt-Town –the right team for your building.

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

We are registered members of the ATTMA, a professional association dedicated to promoting technical excellence in air tightness testing and air leakage measurement applications. This means our expertise and quality of services are recognised by the leading air tightness testing body in the UK.

When to Call Us to Test Your Building

Our comprehensive air permeability testing in Cubitt-Town is available. We offer responsive scheduling. Schedule for your building to be tested at your convenience. We guarantee no delays or complications regarding scheduling.

Next-day Turnaround on Test Certificate Where Possible

AF Acoustics has professional speedy services to satisfy clients who want their test results immediately. We have a next day turnaround policy for our test certificates and endeavour to deliver in all situations.

Competitive Charges

At AF Acoustics, we offer the most competitive prices in Cubitt-Town to ensure you have access to affordable air tightness testing when you need it. We keep the costs down, as we are a small business with low overheads. This allows us to be competitive with our pricing whilst guaranteeing a professional service.

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

We Conduct Tests for All Types of Buildings in Cubitt-Town

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. You can find out how much uncontrolled ventilation your building has by testing it for air leakages. The results are written as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. of a building envelope.

Approved Document L1A and L2A demands that buildings take tests for air leaks. The maximum air permeability rate is 10m3/h/m2. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. This target can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM. Several problems are caused by uncontrolled ventilation. They are:

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

The warm air within a building rises, leading to the influx of cold air through gap, cracks and other openings in the building envelope. The increasing difference in air pressure results in infiltration and exfiltration of air. To get signed off by building control in Cubitt-Town, all buildings are to undergo air tightness testing and measure up to the required energy efficiency standards. For commercial constructions, air pressure tests result in a better environment for workers and customers. This increases the company’s productivity and lowers heating and cooling expenses.

Part L Test Explained

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 also called air leakage rate or ‘air permeability’ rate. Air leakage can occur through gaps, holes and cracks in the fabric of the building envelope (service penetrations, wall/roof junctions, etc), which are not always visible. It is compulsory for all commercial buildings with a gross area greater than 500m2 and a representative selection of domestic buildings to undergo air pressure test, as stipulated by 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. You can exceed the CO2 discharge and Building Regulations target and raise your building’s energy performance by testing for air leakage.

Part F Test

We can provide you all that you need to serve all your Part L and Part F requirements. Not only will we conduct your air tightness test and extract fan flow rate test, we will also recommend experts who can handle your SAP calculations, water calculations and Energy Performance Certificates satisfactorily.
New buildings should ensure that all mechanical extract fans are tested for flow rate, as stipulated by Part F of the Building Regulations. The Building Control Body (BCB) has to see the results of the test as part of its sign-off procedure. There are 3 available methods for examining, recording and reporting the testing of extract fans. Use method 3 – the minimum benchmark method, which tests extractor fans with vane anemometers. This is our testing procedure.


Forms of Air Pressure Testing Services We Provide

There are several levels of air leakage testing based on the kind, size and multifaceted aspects of a dwelling. Here they are: First Level – For building 1m3-4000m3, single and smaller non-dwellings, a single blower door fan is used to carry out the test. The second level examines simple and complex buildings greater than 4000m3, with the exclusion of large zonal buildings and complex high rise (LCHR) buildings. Level 3: Air Pressure Testing for LCHR buildings, phased and zonal handover buildings is carried out.

Approved Document L1 Air Pressure Testing of Houses

Air pressure testing, involves the calculation of air escaping through openings in a building. The test results are inscribed as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. Part L1A of Building Regulations stipulates that such tests be conducted. A building has to achieve a lower rate to meet the carbon dioxide emission target. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. An excessive amount of air leakage results in greater energy expenses, heat reduction and carbon dioxide emissions.

Testing of Air Permeability of Commercial Dwellings, in Accordance with Document L2 Stipulations

An air leakage test is a test to determine the level of uncontrolled air flow through gaps or cracks in the fabric of a building. The result of the air leakage test is expressed as a quantity of air leakage (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. 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. The air permeability target can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Air leakage causes heat loss, increased energy bills, greater CO2 emissions, and an uncomfortable atmosphere for inhabitants due to draughts.

We Offer Smoke Shaft Air Pressure Testing

We undertake smoke shaft integrity testing to confirm that the shaft is sufficiently air tight in order to allow the automatic opening ventilation to perform as required when it is fitted and commissioned. Automatic opening vents help storey buildings dispel smoke when there is a fire. 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. We’re committed to automatic opening vents builders’ target for air permeability. This enables the vents to work efficiently. The shaft is tested for air permeability by using a fan that is fixed inside it. The usual openings are closed off too so that the shaft’s integrity can be determined. The fixing and commissioning of the auto opening vents happen after the test is completed.

Domestic Ventilation Air Flow Testing (Extract Fans)

The requirement for air tight buildings that are properly insulated has brought about the need for ventilation systems that are adequately installed and function at an optimal level. We are able to test 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 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.

Precise Air Pressure Test and Building 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 best solution to demonstrate a building’s air tightness level is to check for leakage paths in the building envelope.

With residential buildings in an area, new building regulations demand that a minimum of 20% be measured for air leakage. Consistent samples are determined by the quantity of the different types of houses present during the construction of the project. We recommend that all buildings be tested as those that aren’t are penalised.

Requirements before the Test

Clients should send the drawings (plans and elevations) and air permeability requirements to our engineers. The test engineers would like to have the information needed for the test before coming to your development. Our air leakage test is done between 30 and 60 minutes, and the wind speed is a maximum of 6m/s. An air tight environment should be created in your building before the test to ensure optimal results. Do the following:

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

Building Envelope Calculations

Before coming to the site, we get the measurement of the building’s envelope. A building envelope is the boundary between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a 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

Air permeability is measured as air leakage per hour per square metre of the building fabric at a pressure differential of 50 pascals (50n/m2). The air barrier envelope area is the total area of all the floors, walls and ceilings both above ground and underground. The internal dimensions of the building found in the drawings are used to calculate the envelope area and subtractions are not made from the areas of floors and ceilings with or without external walls or from the area of the junctions of internal walls.

Air Exchange Rate

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

Cold Roof Construction Envelope Area Calculation

It is important to make sure the roof area and ground floor area of a building are equal. A cold roof is a roof that has its insulation in the ceiling and there’s a huge space between the insulation and 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 is the boundary or barrier containing the overall internal ‘conditioned space’ separating it from the external environment (or non-conditioned spaces and adjacent buildings), and this is located on the warm side of the insulation.

Building Preparation

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

Site Test Process

Check weather conditions (wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure); Connect a fan to an opening, like the door, in the building fabric. Set up the testing gear. Using the fan, measure the air flow volume, from the building fabric. Gradually increase the speed of the fan to a maximum of 55-60Pa. The pressure differences in the building at each fan speed should be calculated.

Measuring 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 Permeability and Following Part L Building Regulations

A low leakage building that is properly ventilated, whether natural, hybrid or mechanical, is very beneficial. The benefits are: Reduced heating expenses because of lower heat loss, with less need for equipment that has high heating ability. A functional ventilation system Less mould will be trapped in the building fabric as a result of less moisture. Fewer draughts, causing more comfort Be assured that you’ll get a test that meets all the regulations and standards no matter how big or small your building is. Not only do we provide services that meet building regulation targets, when you employ our services, you’ll save money and spend less in the long run. We test for air permeability, provide consultancy services and support services and review the designs of all buildings, whether domestic or commercial, large or small.


Good & Best Practice Methods

Any new building has to be air tight. The 2010 Approved Document L1A of Building Regulations has made it compulsory. This regulation was put in place to conserve fuel and power. Part L1A has demanded that all new dwellings be tested for air leaks in line with other regulations.

Determining Air Leakage in buildings (Dwellings), According to Technical Standard L1

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

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

Building Regulation Requirements Part L 2010 (England and Wales)

If you’re constructing a new dwelling, you have to comply with Approved Document L1A’s stipulation to test it. Where there are two or more new buildings in an area, conduct a test on 50% of all examples of a kind of dwelling or 3 units of a dwelling kind. Where there are only one or two new buildings, add an assumed value of 15m3/h/m2 to the DET/TER measurements; an air tightness test may not need to be carried out. To find if your building falls into this category, contact your SAP assessor. ATTMA TSL1 and ATTMA TSL2 prescribe methods for testing occupied and unoccupied buildings. 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.

Part L Building Regulations Standards for 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.

Testers can be divided into three types

  • First Level – For buildings not more than 1m3-4000m3, typically single and smaller non-dwellings, a single fan is used to carry out air tightness testing.
  • 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.

Report for Air Leaks Test

Accredited testing companies issue air pressure reports. Temporary sealing of extraction units will be done by the tester; all test results will be noted, and a shortened form report will be written which will include the findings of the test. The organisation makes sure the report meets the company and government’s requirements.

Results of the Test

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. Our reports correctly note the client, air tightness tester, building and address. We will state if your building has passed or failed the test and give advice on the actions you need to take if another test is needed.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

Go through the list below and send the design air testing permeability value to us before we get to the site.

Air Leakage Pathway Listing – You must ensure the following are properly sealed and don’t have any openings.

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

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.