Elephant-and-Castle 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. Since Approved Document L was reviewed in 2006, air tightness testing has become an essential part of building regulations for newly completed and rehabilitated buildings.

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. AF Acoustics certificates are certified by Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA). ATTMA is an association of specialists that concentrate on promoting the best air tightness measurements and air permeability testing techniques. We are a dedicated and approved air leakage testing service in Elephant-and-Castle 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.

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

Our Guarantee

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

Air Tightness Testing – What Does It Mean?

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 leakage and air pressure are also used in place of air tightness. 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. Draughts are uncontrolled ventilation. Using air tightness testing, the total air lost can be estimated. An excessive amount of uncontrolled air loss results in heat reduction, making the residents uncomfortable. As Government strives to reduce CO2 emissions from new buildings, building regulations now place greater emphasis on reducing air leakage from the building envelope. This reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Air tightness testing is vital in determining the energy efficiency of a new building, air leakage and the build quality. The building regulations have made air tightness part of the building’s design from the beginning of the construction. This ensures that the fabric of a building is air tight. Incorporating this at the beginning of the construction process makes the development more cost effective and energy efficient.

Air Leakage, what Is It?

Air leakage occurs when air escapes through holes and gaps in a building. It is not the same as ventilation which is regulated air flowing into a building. It is also called infiltration. Because of the nature of air leakage, excessive air infiltration might occur in a building when the weather is windy and chilly. This results in loss of warmth and an unpleasant cold draughts. How do you know if a building is energy efficient? By testing its air permeability. This lets the occupants know if the building meets standard air-tightness requirements. In England and Wales, air tightness testing has been mandatory since 2006 for all new builds and non-dwellings with a floor area over 500m².

What Is the Impact of Air Leakage?

Air leakage leads to a reduction in heat. 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. As cold seeps inside, warm moist air escapes through the cracks and gaps in the building. Some of it settles within the building’s fabric. Once the moist air reaches the colder internal layer of the wall structure, the vapour in it condenses and forms droplets of liquid, which drawn into building materials and can potentially start a multitude of structural problems. Wet wooden framing or sheathing can rot and break down, diminishing its strength.

Over time, any of these conditions can cause structural damage.
Other damages that can occur are cold homes which make occupants uncomforta-ble, increase in heating bills to make the internal temperature warmer, and more carbon dioxide discharge since additional heat is required.

These effects can be mitigated by controlling the circulation of air 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 is an Air Tightness Test Important?

Air tightness is an important factor in a building’s energy efficiency and is part of government’s plan to battle environmental change by regulating the energy performance of buildings. Heating buildings contribute to global warming and CO2 emissions, since fossil fuels are used to create heat. The reduction of air leakage leads to lower heat loss and quantity of heat generated in a building. Individuals living in buildings with high levels of air leakage may have medical problems. Houses. Low ventilation and uncontrolled air leaks result in mould growth and moisture which can cause potential health issues. The best advice is to “Construct tightly, ventilate properly”. The result of uncontrollable air moving into the building fabric could be health problems and costly repairs.

When Your Building Needs an Air Tightness Test

It is best practice to complete an air tightness test early on and then again at the final stage. Newly completed constructions’ energy ratings can be influenced by the test results, as they are used in SAP and SBEM calculations. It’s not a necessity to perform tests on each property, rather, different kinds of houses are selected and tested. Once every building in the residential development is not tested, the expected test result would have to be lowered by 2m3/h/m2. If 5m3/h/m2 was your target score, you must achieve 3m3/h/m2.

The assessed air permeability of an untested residence is a calculation of the average test score of the same kind of dwelling in the development, increased by 2m3/h/m2 at 50 Pa. 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 You Should Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing

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

Service and knowledge

Our experience in serving diverse customers in Elephant-and-Castle is proof of our ability to satisfy your requirements no matter the size and type of building, or your circumstance. We have competent and accredited air testing professionals who provide a quality, convenient service. Do you need trustworthy professionals who will provide great results in Elephant-and-Castle? Contact AF Acoustics today.

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

You can access our complete air tightness test in Elephant-and-Castle at anytime. We offer responsive scheduling. Schedule for your building to be tested at your convenience. You won’t get delays or difficulties when scheduling.

Next-day Turnaround for Certificates

AF Acoustics offers a professional and reliable service; we understand that our clients are keen to get their test results as quickly as possible, to facilitate this process we strive to deliver next-day turnaround on test certificates.

Fair Pricing

AF Acoustics offers competitive fees in Elephant-and-Castle. Since we’re a small business, we offer less expensive air permeability testing and render high quality services.

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

Air Tightness Testing for Domestic & Commercial Buildings of All Types and Sizes in Elephant-and-Castle

All domestic and commercial buildings in Elephant-and-Castle can be tested by AF Acoustics, no matter how complex they are. The air tightness tests are carried out by competent testers and you will be issued an ATTMA certificate. The best way to determine how much air seeps through a building’s fabric is through air permeability testing. The results are registered as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building.

Air leakage testing is required by Approved Document L1A and L2A. The design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM of a construction records its required air permeability rate. While the law requires the highest air permeability rate to be 10m3/h/m2, your building might have to get a lower rate to meet the carbon emissions target. With air leakage comes heat loss, greater CO2 discharge, draughts, thermal bypassing and wind washing and poor energy performance. 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. 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 Elephant-and-Castle. With air leakage tests, business areas are more comfortable for employees and customers. In addition, you get lower heating and cooling costs. A comfortable environment results in a higher productivity rate.

What Is Part L Test?

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 tightness can also be called air leakage 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. To adhere to Part L, make sure your building’s air permeability rate is not greater than 10m3/h/m2. Air permeability is key in the following areas: i. A construction’s energy performance, ii. CO2 emission targets iii. Building Regulations Part L standards

A Description of Part F Test

All your Part L and Part F testing requirements can be met by us. 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.
Approved Document F of the Building Regulations demands that all mechanical extract fans in newly completed constructions undergo a flow rate test. Building Control Body (BCB) will see proof that the test has been conducted before signing off your building. Examining, documenting and submitting reports of extract fans’ test can be done using three methods. We use a vane anemometer, which is the third method called the minimum benchmark method, to conduct extract fan flow rate tests.


Forms of Air Pressure Testing Services We Provide

The size, type and multifaceted parts of a building determine the level of air pressure testing it will receive. There are 3 levels and they are listed below. First Level – For building 1m3-4000m3, single and smaller non-dwellings, a single blower door fan is used to carry out the test. Air tightness testing for dwellings more than 4000m3, except big phased handover/zonal and high rise (LCHR) constructions is done. Air tightness testing for phased, zonal handover and LCHR constructions is done.

Domestic Buildings Testing as Required by Approved Document L1

Air pressure testing, involves the calculation of air escaping through openings in a building. The result is written as m3 per hour per square metre of building. Part L1A of Building Regulations stipulates that such tests be conducted. A lower air permeability rate might be needed due to carbon emission requirements. The required rate can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Air leakage leads to heat loss, increased energy bills, greater CO2 emissions, and an uncomfortable atmosphere for inhabitants due to draughts.

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

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. Air pressure testing is compulsory, according to Approved Document L2A. Each building tested must achieve a maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2. In order to comply with the SAP assessment, it may be necessary to achieve a lower air permeability rate. The air permeability target can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. An excessive amount of air leakage leads to greater energy expenses, heat reduction, carbon dioxide discharge and draughts.

Air Leakage Test of Smoke Shafts for Auto Vents

Smoke shaft needs to be tested because its air tightness determines the performance of the automatic opening vent fitted on it. Our professionals perform the test. Smoke needs to be cleared out in the event of a fire. The automatic opening ventilation is a vital aspect of the fire strategy for high rise buildings. The performance of the fans and vents depends on the air tightness of the shaft. Air tight shafts have enough pressure difference to extract smoke and save people inside a building during fire emergencies. With the right air permeability rate, the vents can operate at their best. We aim for the air permeability rate set by the vent manufacturers. The shaft is tested for air permeability by using a fan that is fixed inside it. The openings for ventilation grilles and extract points on each floor are closed so that the state of the shaft itself is known. This test is conducted before the automatic opening ventilation is fixed and commissioned.

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 evaluate extraction rates. This test is required by law and it enables a building have a high-quality ventilation system that is efficient and removes pollutants and odours while limiting humidity in rooms, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Another of such targets, as stated by Part F, is to have the standard intermittent extractor fans, like kitchen and bathroom extractors, in new constructions measured for air flow and results given to Building Control before the construction work is completed.

Explicit Test and Building Preparation Process

The measurement of air pressure in a building is known as an air tightness test. The greater the air tightness of a building, the more comfortable the occupants are and the higher its energy performance.

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 only satisfactory way to show that a building fabric is airtight is to detect and measure leakage paths within the building fabric.

The new regulations stipulate that at least 20% of dwellings in a development be tested, but having a harmonious sample is dependent on the kind of buildings in the development. We recommend that all buildings be tested as those that aren’t are penalised.

Pre-Test

Our test engineers would like to see the drawings (plans and elevations) and design air permeability requirements of your building before taking the test. The duration of air pressure testing is 30 to 60 minutes in most cases and the wind speed should not be more than 6m/s. Test engineers need the drawings and air permeability details from clients so that they can know the size of the building envelope and other information before arriving at the building. 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)

Calculating the Building Envelope

Before coming to the site, we get the measurement of the building’s envelope. The building envelope is the physical separator between the indoors and outdoors. The building envelope calculations are taken from the drawings and used for our air tightness testing.

Air Permeability from the Envelope Area

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

The air change rate is important in designing a ventilation system, however, it is hardly a part of the actual design. Residential ventilation rates are calculated based on area of the residence and number of occupants.

Measuring a Cold Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

This is essential to determine if the roof area is the same as the ground floor area. A cold roof is a roof that has its insulation in the ceiling and there’s a huge space between the insulation and rafters.

Warm Roof Envelope Area Measurement

In a warm roof, an air barrier is inside the insulation which runs on the pitched roof rafters. The envelope area, found at the insulation’s warm side, is the separator between the conditioned internal aspect and the unconditioned.

Building readiness

To get the building ready, close and secure all internal doors, windows, Temporarily seal vents and smoke vents. Also fill drainage traps.

Process for Testing the building

Examine the wind speed, barometric pressure and temperature. Connect a fan to an opening, like the door, in the building fabric. Set up testing equipment. Calculate the air flow volume through the fan which equates to the air leakage. Slowly raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to 55-60Pa. The pressure differences in the building at each fan speed should be calculated.

Calculating Air Leakage

We analyse the air tightness test data, point out any air leakage path and send a report to clients. If the building fails the test, we suggest remedial measures to the client. Air Pressure Testing & 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 Your building will have less mould since moisture cannot escape into holes and cavities. Fewer draughts, causing more comfort Our clients can expect a stress-free conformity to Part L Building Regulations standards, whether they have a single building or a large commercial building. Our services include: air pressure testing, support services, re-examining designs and consultancy for all buildings in Elephant-and-Castle. We are cost effective and adhere to all building regulations.


Good and Best Practice Standards

All new buildings, residential or commercial, must be air tight, according to Approved Document Part L1A of Building Regulations (2010). Reduced power usage and fuel conservation are important; that’s why the rule was put in place. Part L1A further makes it obligatory for new buildings to be tested for air permeability in line with existing building standards.

Measuring Air Permeability on Building Envelopes (Dwellings) – 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. The technical standards give details regarding the following: BS EN 13829:2001: “Thermal Performance of Buildings. Determination of air permeability of buildings. Fan pressurisation method” and ISO 9972:2015: “Thermal performance of buildings – Determination of permeability of buildings – Fan pressurization method”. That way, testing companies use the same method.

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

Building Regulation for England and Wales, Part L 2010

If you’re constructing a new dwelling, you have to comply with Approved Document L1A’s stipulation to test it. 50% or 3 units of each dwelling type should undergo an air leakage test in the case of an area with two or more dwellings. A development with only two dwellings may not undergo a test if a suggested value of 15m3/h/m2 is stipulated in the DER/TER measurements. Your SAP assessor will let you know if you can do this for your building. The required process for testing buildings for air tightness has been declared in ATTMA TSL1 for occupied buildings and ATTMA TSL2 for unoccupied ones. Both residential areas and many non-Dwellings are to take the air leakage test. Non-dwellings where floor area is less than 500 m2 or has an assumed assessed air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 in their calculations, may not have to undergo the air leakage test.

Building Regulations for England and Wales, Part L

ATTMA has a competent scheme for air leakage testing firms which determines their level of competence. The scheme, which was launched in January 2015, is recognised by the government and noted in the building regulations. Its basis is the National Occupation Standard (NOS) and Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) documents standard for testing and essentials for testing knowledge.

Air tightness testers can be divided into three categories

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

Air Tightness Test Report

Accredited testing companies issue air pressure reports. Extraction fans will be sealed temporarily; the results of the test are recorded in a short report. This is done according to the testing organisation’s procedures and Building Regulation standards.

Test Results

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. The identity of the customer, tester, building and address are correctly written in our report. If a building fails the test, we provide remedial suggestions before a retest is carried out.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Dwelling

Before our test engineers arrive at the site, please adhere to what is written below and send the required air tightness target of your dwelling that is in the design to us.

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

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.