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

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 has been a compulsory part of the building regulations for new dwellings, renovations and commercial projects since the revision of Document L in 2006.

Air leakage occurs through any opening in the building envelope and can affect a building’s energy performance, this has been addressed by changes to the building regulations. Our certificates for air tightness testing are registered with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), a professional body that focuses on high quality air tightness testing and air permeability applications. As a certified air leakage testing company in Elstree-Park, we are ready to provide testing services whenever you want. We also provide Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing, assessments and consultancy services.

As registered members of the ATTMA, our air tightness certificates are accepted as proof of 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. We deliver professional value for money service to the highest standards.

Our Guarantee

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

Air Tightness Testing – What It Means

Air tightness testing is a technique whereby a newly constructed building is evaluated and the quantity of air leaking through is measured. It can also be called 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). Once too much air escapes, heat reduction occurs, causing the temperature of the building to drop to a level that isn’t comfortable for those residing in it. Regulations now concentrate on minimising air leakage from the building envelope thereby reducing the amount of fuel burned for maintenance. This helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Air tightness testing is a crucial activity that

  • shows the air leaking from gaps in a building.

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. A building that is air tight A building that is air tight is more economical and ensures less drafts ALS energy efficient.

Air Leakage, what Is It?

Air leakage is uncontrolled air movement in a building due to cracks. Air leakage is the uncontrolled movement of air into and out of a building through gaps and spaces in the building’s fabric. It is not the same as ventilation which is regulated air flowing into a building. It is also called infiltration. It leads to heat deprivation when cold draughts happen and warmth is needed the most. Because air leakage is uncontrolled ventilation, excessive air flows into the house during windy and wintry weather. Air leakage and a dwelling’s energy efficiency are intertwined. Testing is needed to verify that air tightness levels used in the building’s energy calculations align with the targets required by the law. 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

Air leakage leads to a reduction in heat. During windy or cold weather, the infiltration of uncontrolled air through cracks in a building envelope occurs, leading to heat reduction. Movement of moist air into cavities in other parts of the building also occur. This process is called exfiltration. 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. Wooden sheathing or overlay becomes wet, making it weak.

Over time, any of these conditions can cause structural damage.
Air leakage can also cause these problems:

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

Successfully managing the movement of air into and outside the building will limit the damaging effects of moisture. An adequately installed air barrier reduces air leakage and condensation of water vapour on inner wall layers. Correct ventilation is important, whether it is passive or active, to remove water vapour, unwanted moisture odour and pollutants.


Why is an Air Tightness Test Important?

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. A reduction in air leakage lessens the heat needed to keep a building warm. Properties with uncontrolled air leakage also cause health issues. A building with poor ventilation and high air permeability is conducive for moisture and mould growth which can affect the inhabitant’s health. A great option would be to build tight and ventilate right. High degrees of air leaks cause huge problems such as expensive remedial work on the building and medical problems.

When Do I Need an Air Tightness Test?

Best practice dictates that you complete an air tightness test early in the build process, and then again after the construction process is completed; although not all builds have the first test phase. Newly completed constructions’ energy ratings can be influenced by the test results, as they are used in SAP and SBEM calculations. For big residential developments, the test is not required for each house. A group of diverse buildings are picked for the test. Selective testing has a penalty of +2m3/h/m2. If target score is 5m3/h/m2, air tightness test score will have to be 3m3/h/m2.

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. It’s better to test each property because selective testing does not give a realistic picture of individual buildings. Besides, air permeability rates are difficult to achieve for untested buildings in such areas due to the +2m3/h/m2 penalty.

Why Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing?

With AF Acoustics, homes and businesses in Elstree-Park have been getting quality air tightness testing. Because of the following guarantees of working with us, we are highly endorsed by our clients.

Great service and expertise

Our experience in serving diverse customers in Elstree-Park is proof of our ability to satisfy your requirements no matter the size and type of building, or your circumstance. Our air tightness experts are certified, well-mannered and competent. They’re trained to deliver a quality service, working as an extension of your project. Our personnel will use their expertise to provide lasting solutions. Contact AF Acoustics in Elstree-Park –the right team for your building.

We Are Registered Members of the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA)

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.

When Can You Call Us to Test Your Building?

We want you to be able to access comprehensive air tightness testing in Elstree-Park whenever you need it. We have responsive scheduling options. Schedule for your air leakage testing at your comfort. There won’t be delays or complications once you’ve fixed a time.

You Could Get Your Certificates on the Next Day

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.

Affordable Fees

AF Acoustics offers competitive fees in Elstree-Park. 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 Permeability Testing for Different Kinds of Commercial and Domestic Dwellings in Elstree-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. The best way to determine how much air seeps through a building’s fabric is through air permeability testing. The results are written as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. of a building envelope.

Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L1A and L2A. 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. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and discomfort. It can also create convective loops within a building; this is often referred to as thermal bypassing and wind washing. Warm air within a heated building rises and lowers the pressure at the building’s base to draw in air through the openings in the building fabric, leading to exfiltration or infiltration. 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 Elstree-Park. 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?

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 can also be called air leakage 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. Part L of the Building Regulations requires that all commercial buildings greater than 500m2 undergo air tightness testing and a selection of residential buildings in a development be tested. Part L has also set a maximum air permeability target rate of 10m3/h/m2, but a building usually needs lower levels. Air permeability is key in the following areas: i. A construction’s energy performance, ii. CO2 emission targets iii. Building Regulations Part L standards

Part F Test

We will ensure that you exceed all the Parts L and F standards. First, we provide extract fan flow rate and air leakage testing. Then we put you in contact with competent professional to work on your Energy Performance Certificates, SAP and water calculations.
New buildings should ensure that all mechanical extract fans are tested for flow rate, as stipulated by Part F of the Building Regulations. Building Control Body (BCB) has made a presentation of evidence of the test a compulsory aspect of a building’s sign-off process. There are 3 available methods for examining, recording and reporting the testing of extract fans. Using a vane anemometer, our testing procedure follows Method 3 – The minimum benchmark method.


Types of Air Leakage Testing Services We Offer

Here are the descriptions of the ways air permeability can be tested: Level 1: Air pressure testing for single dwellings and other smaller non-dwellings up to 4000 m³ gross envelope volume, typically tested with a single blower door fan. 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 Three: At this level, tests for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings.

Air Tightness Testing of Houses and Flats to Meet Approved Document L1

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 is expressed as a quantity in the form of m3 per hour, per square metre of building fabric. Air tightness testing is required for new builds. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss which can lead to draughts and higher energy bills.

Approved Document L2A Air Pressure Testing of Commercial Constructions

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. Part L2A of Building Regulations has demanded that such tests be conducted. The highest air permeability rate for your dwelling when tested should be 10m3/h/m2. In order to comply with the SAP assessment, it may be necessary to achieve a lower air permeability rate. The required air permeability rate for each building can be found on the design-stage SAP or SBEM report for that building. Excess air leakage causes heat loss, greater carbon dioxide discharge and influx of cold air.

Testing the Smoke Shaft of Automatic Opening Vents

To ensure that the auto opening vent will perform optimally when fitted and commissioned, we test the smoke shaft to verify its air tightness. Automatic opening vents 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. To ensure that automatic opening ventilations work properly, their manufacturers have placed an air permeability target for them which we work towards. The shaft undergoes air leakage testing when fans are placed inside it. Then the openings are sealed off in all its parts so that the shaft can be thoroughly examined. The test takes place in advance of the automatic-opening ventilation equipment being installed and commissioned.

Measurement of Air Flow of Domestic Ventilation

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

Air Tightness Test and Building Preparation Method

Air tightness test determines the level of air permeability in a building. If the rate of air pressure is good, the energy performance of a building will be high and the inhabitants will be comfortable.

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.

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. We recommend that all buildings be tested as those that aren’t are penalised.

What You Need to Do Before Undertaking the Test

Our test engineers require the drawings (plans and elevations) and target air permeability requirements of your building before taking the test. 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. In preparing the site to create an air-tight environment:

  • 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 calculations, which are extracted from the drawings, are fed into our estimations when testing your building for air leaks.

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 calculated based on area of the residence and number of occupants.

Calculating the Envelope Area of a Cold Roof

This is essential to determine if the roof area is the same as the ground floor area. A cold roof is a roof that has the thermal insulation put in the ceiling with wide space between the insulation and pitched roof rafters.

Warm Roof Construction Envelope Area Calculation

A warm roof has the insulation running along the pitched roof rafters with an air barrier normally running parallel along the inside face of the insulation. In the warm part of the insulation, is the barrier between the conditioned and unconditioned space.

Preparing the Building

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

How the Test Is Done

Measure the weather conditions. Check the temperature, barometric pressure and wind speed. Connect a fan to an opening, like the door, in the building fabric. Fix the instrument for testing. Record the air volume flow passing through the fan. Raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to the highest speed of 55-60Pa. The pressure differences in the building at each fan speed should be calculated.

Calculating Air Leakage

Our air leakage measurement involves picking out the gaps where air leakage takes place, recording the test information, sending results to customers in a technical report and advise clients on repair methods in the case of a test failure. Testing for Air Tightness & Meeting Part L Standards

The positive effects of an air tight building with efficient ventilation (natural, mechanical or a combination) cannot be underestimated. Here they are: Lower heating bills due to less heat loss, with potentially smaller requirements for heating and cooling equipment capacities Your ventilation system will operate in a better way Lower levels of mould due to less moisture collecting in gaps and cavities. Infiltration of air is reduced and the inhabitants are more comfortable. From the smallest to biggest building or development, we adhere to Building Regulations Part L and Building Standards. We provide air tightness testing, consultancy, design reviews and support services on all buildings, both dwellings and non-dwellings in Elstree-Park. We also provide cost-effective, local service that complies with all relevant Building Standards.


Good and Best Practice Styles

Building Regulation Part L1A 2010 stipulates that all new buildings must have low air permeability. The regulation is focused on the conservation of fuel and power usage. 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

Building Regulation Requirements Part L 2010 (England and Wales)

Test for air permeability must be conducted on your new constructions. This is stated in Approved Document L1A. For development with two or more buildings, three units of each dwelling type or 50% of the dwelling type should be tested. For developments where no more than two dwellings are constructed, it may be possible to avoid the need for any pressure testing by using an assumed value of 15m3/h/m2 within the DER/TER calculations. Your SAP assessor will let you know if you can do this for your building. The method for testing required by the building regulations is stated in ATTMA TSL1 (for dwellings) and ATTMA TSL2 (for non-dwellings). Air leakage testing is compulsory for residential areas and certain Non-Dwellings. Non-dwellings with a typical floor area less than 500m2 may be exempt. Where testing is not carried out, an assessed air permeability of 15 m3/h/m2 must be used in calculations.

Building Regulation Requirements Part L (England and Wales)

In January 2015, the ATTMA Scheme for Competent Air Tightness Testing Firms and Their Testers (The ATTMA Scheme) was launched. It is an industry competence scheme authorised by the government and specified in Technical Standard L1 & L2. The scheme echoes the conditions of the Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) and the National Occupation Standard (NOS) documents.

Air tightness testers can be divided into three categories

  • 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.
  • Air tightness testing is done in all dwellings but big phased handover/zonal and high rise (LCHR) constructions are not included except a level three tester is the head of the team.
  • Air tightness testing for phased, zonal handover, LCHR and multifaceted constructions is carried out by level three experts.

Report on Test for Air Permeability

Test reports are issued by registered and licensed air tightness companies who test buildings of different sizes and complexities. Extraction fans will be sealed temporarily; the results of the test are recorded in a short report. The report is in line with the company’s testing process set by government regulations and all relevant governing bodies.

Test Outcomes

AF Acoustics guarantees the test outcome is written in line with standard requirements; it picks out any deviations from the significant benchmarks inside the report and checks air permeability against target values. The identity of the customer, tester, building and address are correctly written in our report. 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 – Dwelling

Please send your design air pressure figure to us and go through the list below before we arrive at your site.

Air Leakage Pathway List –Ensure you thoroughly check the following equipment. Fill up drainage traps. Here are the pieces of equipment to cover, fill or seal:

  • Extract fans
  • Hoods of cookers
  • Drainage traps
  • Metre boxes
  • Boilers
  • Radiators, fans and heaters
  • Hot water tank
  • Chimney
  • Air bricks
  • Skirting and coving
  • Bath panel
  • Tumble drier extracts
  • MVHR
  • Soil panel

We Provide Temporary Sealing – the following should be temporarily sealed during the test;

  • Trickle Vents: Should be closed.
  • Extractor Fans / MVHR terminals: All extracts should be temporarily sealed (Please ensure these are off before sealing).
  • Cooker Hoods: Should be sealed from the outside or inside.
  • Chimney Flues and Air Bricks: Should be temporarily sealed.

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)
Image module

Gerard Finn

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