Air Tightness Testing, Certified by AF-Acoustics, in Dartmouth-Park

Air tightness testing, also known as air leakage testing or air permeability testing, establishes the rate at which air flows out of gaps in a building 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.

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 Air Tightness Testing certificates are registered with Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), a professional association dedicated to promoting technical excellence in all air tightness testing and air leakage measurement applications. We are a dedicated and approved air leakage testing service in Dartmouth-Park and we can provide air permeability measurement whenever you require. You can also contact us for assessments and consultancy services. In addition to air leakage testing, we provide 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 are professionals who take the time to explain the testing process, we are able to give informed advice on where problem areas may occur during testing, and how improvements can be made based on results of air pressure testing. 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

Air Tightness Testing – What It Means

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 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. Air leakage from buildings causes heat loss, more energy is then used to keep the building warm, this is a cause of excess CO2 emissions. This has resulted in regulations which are centred on decreasing air leaks from the building fabric, therefore lowering CO2 emissions. Air tightness testing is important in establishing air leakage from a building’s fabric, the energy efficiency of a new building and in identifying poor build quality within new developments. 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

Air leakage is where air enters and leaves a building uncontrollably through cracks and holes in the building fabric. When the circulation of air is properly monitored and bridled, ventilation has occurred. Another name for air leakage is infiltration. 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. 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.

What Is the Impact of Air Leakage?

Air leakage leads to a reduction in heat. When the weather is cold and windy, unwanted air seeps into a building through the holes and cracks in its fabric, causing heat loss and discomfort. The infiltration of chilly air causes exfiltration, making warm air within the building escape through the spaces in other parts of the building. 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.

As the years go by, these conditions can result in 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. Adequately installed air barriers minimise air leaks and the probability of vapour condensing and diffusing into the building’s structure. To get rid of pollutants, water vapour and moisture odour, the building must be well ventilated.


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. When air leakage is controlled, heat loss and energy used by the heating system are reduced. 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 degrees of air leaks cause huge problems such as expensive remedial work on the building and medical problems.

Recommended Period for Air Tightness Test

It is best practice to conduct at least two air tightness testing procedures, one early in the build and another at the end. The test results are part of SBEM and SAP calculations, therefore they influence the total energy ratings of new buildings. Larger residential developments do not require testing to be completed on each individual property, instead, testing is undertaken on the different dwelling types within the development. With selective testing, you get a penalty of +2m3/h/m2. Houses that have a target score of 5m3/h/m2 must get 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. Because selective testing does not conduct tests for all buildings, a tested building might have a much higher air tight rate than an untested building; making it unreliable. The 2m3/h/m2 penalty added to untested buildings makes the air permeability rate hard to achieve.

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

With AF Acoustics, homes and businesses in Dartmouth-Park have been getting quality air tightness testing. Our customers highly recommend us to other people due to the following benefits.

Great service and expertise

In Dartmouth-Park, we have served many clients. The experience garnered from our years of service will help us meet your specific needs no matter the size or type of property. We have competent and accredited air testing professionals who provide a quality, convenient service. AF Acoustics is the crew you need in Dartmouth-Park to give you the best solutions.

Registered Members of the Leading Air Tightness Body in the UK

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

Responsive scheduling

Our comprehensive air permeability testing in Dartmouth-Park is available. Pick a time that is convenient for you in our responsive scheduling options. We won’t make you wait or make the process complicated.

Next-day Turnaround for Certificates

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

Affordable Fees

AF Acoustics fees are lower since we’re a company with low overheads. Our services are professional and we offer affordable prices in Dartmouth-Park.

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

Air Tightness Tests for Any Kind of building in Dartmouth-Park

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 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 requires that buildings know their air permeability rates by taking the air leakage test. 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. Excessive air leakage causes discomfort due to heat reduction and carbon dioxide discharge. It also creates convective loops within a building’s internal structure, leading to energy loss. Infiltration/exfiltration is the effect of air pressure difference. Warm air rises while cold air falls. The warm air within a building rises and air pressure at the base falls; this results in air coming in through doors, windows and leakage points. Air tightness testing is required by law for domestic buildings to ensure energy efficiency and comfort within the home environment. It is also a legal requirement that all new builds have an air tightness test carried out to meet energy efficiency standards before it can get signed off by building control in Dartmouth-Park. 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.

A Description of Part L Test

Air tightness testing is a Building Regulations obligation for new buildings, commercial developments and revamped buildings. This was put into effect in 2006 after Document L was reappraised. 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 leakage is vital to a building’s energy efficiency and is needed to meet Building Regulations Part L and carbon emission standards.

The Part F Test

All your Part L and Part F testing requirements can be met by us. With our organisation, you receive:

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

According to Part F, it is compulsory for a flow rate test to be conducted on all mechanical extract fans of new buildings. Building Control Body (BCB) will see proof that the test has been conducted before signing off your building. There are 3 available methods for examining, recording and reporting the testing of extract fans. AF Acoustics employs the minimum benchmark procedure (method 3), which involves using a vane anemometer.


Different Ways We Test for Air Permeability

Air Tightness Testing has different tiers, depending on how complex a building is and its size. Find them below: First Level – For building 1m3-4000m3, single and smaller non-dwellings, a single blower door fan is used to carry out the test. Level 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

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 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. The required air permeability rate for a dwelling can be found on the design-stage SAP report for that dwelling. 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 leakage testing is the measurement of uncontrolled ventilation from a building’s fabric. The result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Document L2A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. The highest air permeability rate for your dwelling when tested should be 10m3/h/m2. Your building may need a lower air permeability rate to meet the SAP or SBEM assessment. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Uncontrolled air leakage can cause several problems. They are: infiltration of cold air, discomfort, reduction in heat, and higher CO2 emission rate.

Testing the Smoke Shaft of Automatic Opening Vents

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 the fans and vents to perform as required, the shaft itself must be sufficiently air tight so as to create the pressure difference to draw smoke out of the building and protect the occupants. AF Acoustics aims for the air permeability requirements of the automatic opening vent producers, so that their product can perform optimally. The shaft is tested for air permeability by using a fan that is fixed inside it. Once the fan is fixed, the extract points and ventilation grilles on each storey are sealed to ensure that the shaft is in proper condition. Once the test is completed and successful, the automatic opening vents are installed.

We Offer Extraction Fan Testing

The mandate to construct well insulated and air tight buildings, has made it crucial for satisfactory, enhanced and balanced ventilation systems to be installed. We have the capacity 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 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

An air tightness test measures the extent of air leakage in a building. When air leakage is reduced in a building, the occupants will not experience discomfort and the energy performance will increase.

Causes of excess air leakage are often hard to detect. These openings might not be seen because of the internal finishes that have been fixed. If you know the leakage paths of a building, you will know if it is air tight.

At least 20% of different kinds of dwellings in a development have to be tested, according to new regulations; but the reliability of the sample from this type of testing is determined by the types of buildings in the development. Buildings that don’t undergo the test are penalised. All dwellings in a development should be tested to ensure optimum air tightness.

Pre-Test Requirements

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

  • 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 undertake building envelope measurements before getting to the dwelling for the test. The building envelope, is the physical barrier between the exterior and interior of a construction. We use the building envelope measurements to get the right results when testing for air tightness.

Envelope Area Air Permeability

It is defined as air leakage rate per hour per square metre of envelope area at the test reference pressure differential of 50 pascals (50n/m2). The envelope area, or measured part of the building, is 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 Change Rate

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

Measuring a Cold Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

Measuring if the roof area and ground floor area of a building are the same is vital. 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.

Measuring a Warm Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

In a warm roof, the main insulation is placed below the roof covering. The envelope area is the boundary between the internal environment and external environment (adjacent buildings), and can be found on the insulation’s warm part.

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 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). Fix the instrument for testing. Record the air volume flow passing through the fan. Slowly raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to 55-60Pa. At each fan speed, note the differences in air pressure in all the parts of the building.

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. Air Leakage Testing and Compliance

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. A functional ventilation system Lower probability of mould because moist air won’t condense in the openings in the building envelope. Infiltration of air is reduced and the inhabitants are more comfortable. Our air leakage tests are conducted according to building regulations and targets, whether we’re testing a small dwelling or big commercial development. 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 and Best Practice Styles

Building Regulation Part L1A 2010 stipulates that all new buildings must have low air permeability. 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.

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. The technical standards ensure that all companies have similar testing procedures. They are:

  • “Thermal Performance of Buildings. Determination of air permeability of buildings. Fan pressurisation method” BS EN 13829:2001, and
  • “Thermal performance of buildings – Determination of permeability of buildings – Fan pressurization method” ISO 9972:2015
Call us today for a quote on 020 3372 4430
Or you can email us at info@af-acoustics.com

England and Wales: Building Regulation Targets Part L 2010

Approved document L1A has made it compulsory for all new buildings to be tested for air leaks. For development with two or more buildings, three units of each dwelling type or 50% of the dwelling type should be tested. A development with only two dwellings may not undergo a test if a suggested value of 15m3/h/m2 is stipulated in the DER/TER measurements. Find out from your SAP assessor if this is applicable to you. 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 compulsory for residential areas and certain Non-Dwellings. Buildings with a floor area of less than 500 m2 might not have to take the test. Where air tightness testing is not done, an assumed air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 is used.

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.

Testers can be divided into three types

  • Level 1: Testers can test dwellings and non-dwellings up to 4000m3 gross envelope volume when tested as a single entity, 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.
  • Air tightness testing for phased, zonal handover, LCHR and multifaceted constructions is carried out by level three experts.

Report for Air Leaks Test

Air leakage test reports are given by authorised organisations that test different buildings. The testing companies seal extraction fans. After the test has been completed, they record test findings and results in a 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. Where applicable, we will identify pass or failure of your building and provide recommendations for any remedial action or improvement to the building if any further testing is required.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

Before we arrive on site, ensure you have sent us the air permeability target and been through the checklist below and the ones we have sent you. This will greatly facilitate the process.

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

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

Temporarily cover the following;

  • Trickle Vents: Close them.
  • MVHR Terminal/Extract Fans: Switch off and seal temporarily.
  • Air Bricks and Chimney Flues: Cover temporarily.
  • Cooker Hoods: Seal off from the inside or outside.

Air Tightness Testing FAQ’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The common leakage sites are:

All pipe works within the kitchen and bathrooms

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

Our team of experts can support you through the following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. Air tightness testing applies to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gerard Finn

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