Harrow Air Tightness Testing Certified by AF-Acoustics

The measurement of air escaping from a building is called air tightness testing. It is also referred to as air permeability testing or air pressure testing. In 2006, Approved Document L was reviewed and building regulations for air permeability became more stringent. The test is presently a requirement for new buildings and reconstructions.

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 are registered with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), an organisation that guarantees technical excellence in all air leakage measurement methods. AF Acoustics, a licensed air tightness testing company, is available to provide testing services at your request. Our address is Harrow. 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. If you want specialist air pressure testing services in Harrow, AF Acoustics’ tightness testing services will

  • Describe the process to you,
  • Highlight possible problem areas that might occur during testing,
  • Conduct the air tightness test, and
  • Give advice on improvements based on the outcome of the test.

Our services provide great value for money at high standards.

Our Guarantee

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

What is Air Tightness Testing?

Air tightness testing is carried out to determine the volume of air escaping from holes in a building fabric. It is sometimes referred to as air leakage testing or air pressure 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. Draughts are uncontrolled ventilation. Using air tightness testing, the total air lost can be estimated. Unrestrained air movement leads to heat reduction, making the inhabitants of the building uncomfortable. The government aims to lessen the quantity of air flowing from newly built buildings. Therefore, regulations have been put in place to reduce uncontrolled ventilation from the building envelope, sustaining the right temperature conditions without using so much fuel. Air tightness testing is a crucial activity that

  • shows the air leaking from gaps in a building.

With the introduction of tougher regulations, building designs will often consider air tightness at the early stages of the construction process, ensuring attention to detail during construction to create an air-tight envelope. When the building fabric is properly constructed to reduce air loss, the building is economical, and energy efficient.

What Is Air Leakage?

This occurs when openings in a building lead to excess air flow into and out of the building. When the circulation of air is properly monitored and bridled, ventilation has occurred. Another name for air leakage is 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. 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 2006, air tightness of newly constructed buildings and non-dwellings with a floor area over 500m² became compulsory in England and Wales.

The Impact of Air Leakage

When air escapes uncontrollably from a building, heat reduction occurs. Heat loss is caused by influx of frosty outside air into a building through the openings in its envelope during draughts and cold weather, leading to an uncomfortable drop in temperature. Once there’s infiltration, exfiltration will occur in another part of the building. Warm, moist air seeps into cool cavities in the building’s fabric. The air hits the cooler surface in the inner parts of the wall. Water vapour condenses and gathers in these gaps. Eventually, it is absorbed and starts a myriad of defects. Wooden sheathing or overlay becomes wet, making it weak.

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

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

The most effective method of lessening the damage caused by moisture is to control the flow of air into and out of the building. A properly installed air barrier minimises air leakage, which, in turn, minimises the potential for water vapour to condense on vulnerable wall structures. To get rid of pollutants, water vapour and moisture odour, the building must be well ventilated.


Why Should We Do an Air Tightness test?

Climate change caused by carbon dioxide emission is an environmental hazard that government is trying to curb. Energy performance and air tightness is a key part of this plan. Heating buildings contribute to global warming and CO2 emissions, since fossil fuels are used to create heat. Reducing air leakage reduces heat loss, which in turn reduces the amount of energy a heating system uses. 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. Best practice advice is to “Build tight, ventilate right”. Air leakage causes infiltration of moisture into the building envelope, leading to health issues and high repair costs.

When Your Building Needs 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. Large residential areas do not need each building to be tested. Instead, different types of dwellings are tested. 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 the building has not been tested for air tightness, assessed air permeability rate is the average result of similar buildings 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.

Why Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing?

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

Helpful service and expert knowledge

Having served many clients in Harrow, we have the expertise to work on any type or size of building. Our air tightness experts are certified, well-mannered and competent. They’re trained to deliver a quality service, working as an extension of your project. AF Acoustics is the crew you need in Harrow to give you the best solutions.

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

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

When Can You Call Us to Test Your Building?

You can access our complete air tightness test in Harrow at anytime. Simply fix a convenient time for your building’s air permeability test. We offer responsive scheduling. We guarantee that there will be no delays or difficulties.

Next-day Turnaround for Certificates

In order to satisfy our clients, AF Acoustics strives to provide test results and certificates on the next day.

Competitive Pricing

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

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

Air Tightness Tests for Any Kind of building in Harrow

We can test any building in Harrow for air leakages irrespective of its size, complex nature or type. Our tests are conducted by highly qualified professionals and we issue ATTMA certificates. 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 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. 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. To get signed off by building control in Harrow, all buildings are to undergo air tightness testing and measure up to the required energy efficiency standards. With air leakage tests, business areas are more comfortable for employees and customers. This increases the company’s productivity and lowers heating and cooling expenses.

Part L Test Explained

In 2006, Approved Document L was reviewed and building regulations for air permeability became tighter. The air tightness test is presently a requirement for new buildings and reconstructions. The air-tightness of a building is known as its ‘air permeability’ or leakage rate. Any hole or crack in a building fabric is a spot where air leak can take place. Air leakage points are not often 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. To adhere to Part L, make sure your building’s air permeability rate is not greater than 10m3/h/m2. 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

We can complete all your Part F and Part L testing requirements. We deliver quality air permeability and extract fan flow rate testing, and also recommend skilled experts who will handle your water calculations, SAP calculations and Energy Performance Certificates.
Approved Document F of the Building Regulations requires that all mechanical extract fans in new dwellings be subjected to a flow rate test. 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 three alternative methods which can be followed to test, record and report the testing of extractor fans. AF Acoustics test process is the third method. It uses a vane anemometer and is called the minimum benchmark method.


Forms of Air Pressure Testing Services We Provide

There are different levels of air tightness testing established from the size and complexity of a building. An overview of each is provided below: Level One: Testing for the air pressure of single buildings and smaller non-dwellings of 4000m3 gross envelope volume and below, a single blower door fan is used. Level Two: Single and multifaceted buildings 4000m3 gross envelope volume and above are tested for air pressure. High rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings are excluded from this level. Level Three: At this level, tests for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings.

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

Air tightness testing determines the extent of air leaking out a building’s envelope. The result of the air leakage test is expressed as a quantity of air leakage (mm3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Part L1A of Building Regulations stipulates that such tests be conducted. Your building may need a lower rate to meet the CO2 discharge target. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. An excessive amount of air leakage results in greater energy expenses, heat reduction and carbon dioxide emissions.

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. Air pressure testing is compulsory, according to Approved Document L2A. The results of air permeability rate should not exceed 10m3/h/m2. The SAP or SBEM assessment for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Air leakage causes heat loss, increased energy bills, greater CO2 emissions, and an uncomfortable atmosphere for inhabitants due to draughts.

We Test Your Automatic Opening Vent’s Smoke Shaft

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. When there is a fire, the auto opening vents play an important part in expelling smoke in multi-storey buildings. 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. We’re committed to automatic opening vents builders’ target for air permeability. This enables the vents to work efficiently. An air pressure test is conducted using a fan installed in the shaft. The usual openings are closed off too so that the shaft’s integrity can be determined. The test takes place in advance of the automatic-opening ventilation equipment being installed and commissioned.

Air Flow Measurement of Domestic Ventilation (extraction fan testing)

Buildings that are well insulated and air tight are the standard for buildings. As a result, a high-quality ventilation system that is adequate and performs as required is vital. Extract fans are tested by us. This is done to meet the Building Regulations standard. Make sure the ventilation system is efficient, expels pollutants and odours, and reduces humidity, 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.

Air Tightness Test and Building Preparation Method

When a building is checked for the quantity of air flowing through the gaps in the fabric, it has undergone an air tightness test. The air tightness of a building improves its energy efficiency and internal environment.

It is difficult to notice unwanted openings in a building envelope. They might be blocked by the internal finishes. The most acceptable approach to show that a building fabric is impermeable is to identify leakage paths within it.

Under the new regulations developers must test 20% of the dwellings on a site but this also depends on the amount of differing house types to ensure that a consistent sample is taken throughout the construction of the development. We advise that all buildings undergo air pressure testing as there is a penalty for those that don’t.

Requirements before the Test

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

  • Open and secure all internal doors;
  • Close all windows;
  • Switch off all mechanical ventilation systems;
  • Seal ventilation;
  • Close smoke vents;
  • Fill all drainage traps;
  • Switch off all range cookers/stoves 24 hours before testing (if applicable)

Measuring the Building’s Envelope

We conduct building envelope calculations prior to 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.

Air Permeability of the Envelope Area

Approved Document L1A Conservation of Fuel and Power in New Dwellings (2010) defines air permeability as “air leakage rate per hour per square metre of envelope area at the test reference pressure differential of 50 pascals (50n/m2)” and envelope area as “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 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

The area of the roof and ground floor should be the same. 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.

Calculating the Envelope Area of a Warm Roof

In a warm roof, the main insulation is placed below the roof covering. The envelope area is the boundary or barrier containing the overall internal ‘conditioned space’ separating it from the external environment (or non-conditioned spaces and adjacent buildings), and this is located on the warm side of the insulation.

Building Preparation

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

Process for Testing the building

Measure the weather conditions. Check the temperature, barometric pressure and wind speed. Connect a fan (or fans) to an aperture in the building envelope (e.g. door). Set up testing equipment. Record the air volume flow through the fan (this equals the air leaking through the building envelope). Increase the speed of the fan slowly till it gets to 55-60Pa. Note the difference in air pressure in several parts of the building at each fan speed.

Air Leakage Calculation

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. Air Leakage Testing and Compliance

An airtight building has several positive impacts when combined with an appropriate ventilation system (whether natural, mechanical, or hybrid): Lower energy costs and need for heating appliances due to a higher level of heat retention. Better performing ventilation system Your building will have less mould since moisture cannot escape into holes and cavities. Fewer draughts and enhanced 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. They also ensure that you spend less money. Here are the services we provide:

  • Air tightness test
  • Consultancy
  • Design reappraisal
  • Support services

Best Practice Processes

The Building Regulations approved document Part L1A 2010 specifies that any new dwellings must be airtight. Reduced power usage and fuel conservation are important; that’s why the rule was put in place. Part L1A states that new dwellings should be tested for air tightness in accordance with existing regulations.

Testing for Air Tightness in Building Fabrics of Dwellings to Adhere to Technical Standards L1

There are technical standards for air tightness test of buildings in the UK detailed by Air Tightness Test and Measurement Association (ATTMA). This Technical Standard provides detailed guidance and clarification of 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”, in order to ensure consistency by testing companies.

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

Undergoing an air tightness test is compulsory for your new building, according to Part L of Building Regulations. Those exceptions only occur when there are two or more dwellings in a development. Three units of a dwelling type or 50% of all examples of that dwelling type should be tested. If the development has one or two dwellings only, an air tightness test might not be taken if the DET/TER calculations assume a value of 15m3/h/m2. Your SAP assessor will be able to confirm if this is the case for your dwelling. 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 required on all residential developments (this may be a sample of units) and certain Non-Dwellings. A building might not have to undertake the air leakage test if its floor space is less than 500m2 or its DET calculations have an air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 added to it.

England and Wales: Building Regulations Part L

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. It is based on the performance criteria and knowledge requirements set out in the suite of National Occupation Standards (NOS) and under the requirements of the Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) document.

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.

Report for Air Leaks Test

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. This is done according to the testing organisation’s procedures and Building Regulation standards.

Outcome of Air Leak Test

AF Acoustics will make sure the result is written in line with test requirements, detect any part of the test that is not in line with the standards required and check actual air tightness against required rate. Clients’ test reports contain their names, construction, address; the tester’s name is also included. In the event that a building fails the test, we suggest methods of improving the building and what repairs to do on the building fabric if a retest is required.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

Send us your building design air permeability target and crosscheck the list below before we get to the 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

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)

Load More

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.