Highams-Park Air Tightness Testing, Licensed by AF-Acoustics

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

The energy performance of a building can be affected by air leakage. To address this problem, alterations to building regulations have been made. Our Air Tightness Testing certificates are registered with Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), a professional association dedicated to promoting technical excellence in all air tightness testing and air leakage measurement applications. We are a dedicated and approved air leakage testing service in Highams-Park and we can provide air permeability measurement whenever you require. We also provide Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing, assessments and consultancy services.

As registered members of the ATTMA, our air tightness certificates are accepted as proof of building regulations sign-off. Not only do we test the air permeability of your building, we describe the procedure in a professional manner and advise you on problem areas discovered during the evaluation. 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 Does It Mean?

Air tightness testing involves calculating the quantity of air which escapes through holes in the building fabric. It is sometimes referred to as air leakage testing or air pressure testing. Air leakage is the draught or infiltration of unbridled air through the spaces and openings in a building. It is different from ventilation, which is the contained circulation of air within and outside the building. Air leakage is uncontrolled ventilation. Air tightness testing is the approved method for gauging the entire air that has leaked through a building fabric. Unrestrained air movement leads to heat reduction, making the inhabitants of the building 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 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. 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 occurs when air escapes through holes and gaps in a building. It is also referred to as infiltration and is the opposite of ventilation which involves well managed circulation of air in a building. 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 plays a major part in the energy efficiency of buildings, and testing is necessary as a means of demonstrating that the air tightness targets used in building energy calculations have been achieved. In England and Wales, air tightness testing has been mandatory since 2006 for all new builds and non-dwellings with a floor area over 500m².

Effects of Air Leakage

Heat loss within a building can be caused by air leakage. Once the atmosphere is cold and windy, unwanted chilly air infiltrates the building through gaps, leading to heat reduction. 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. When moist air hits a cooler surface within a wall structure, water vapour in the air can condense and collect inside these spaces. Moisture can then be absorbed in building materials and cause serious defects. Wet wooden framing or sheathing can rot and break down, diminishing its strength.

Over the years, these problems can damage the building’s structure.
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.


The Importance of Air Tightness Test

Air tightness is a key factor in building energy efficiency, and is a part of government-led initiative to combat climate change through improvements in building energy performance. Environmental change caused by carbon dioxide emissions and global warming is partly aided by the burning of fossil fuels to generate heat. When air leakage is controlled, heat loss and energy used by the heating system are reduced. 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. To “Construct tight, ventilate right” is the best practice. Air leakage causes infiltration of moisture into the building envelope, leading to health issues and high repair costs.

When Do I Need an Air Tightness Test?

It is best practice to conduct at least two air tightness testing procedures, one early in the build and another at the end. The test results are part of SBEM and SAP calculations, therefore they influence the total energy ratings of new buildings. It’s not a necessity to perform tests on each property, rather, different kinds of houses are selected and tested. With selective testing there is a penalty of +2m3/h/m2; if the target score is 5 m3/h/m2 and selective testing was applied, the air tightness test would have to achieve a lower score of 3.

If your building has not been pressure tested, its assessed air permeability would be the average score of buildings like yours in the area +2m3/h/m2 at 50 Pa. This type of testing does not reveal the exact air tightness of each residence and is therefore not advisable. Moreover, the penalty implemented on untested buildings makes the required air permeability rate difficult to attain.

Why Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing?

Numerous businesses and home owners have been aided by AF Acoustics air tightness testing proficient skills in Highams-Park. Our clients highly recommend us for the following reasons.

Great service and expertise

Our experience in serving diverse customers in Highams-Park 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 Highams-Park? Contact AF Acoustics today.

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?

We want to provide detailed air permeability testing in Highams-Park for you whenever you need it. We offer responsive scheduling. Schedule for your building to be tested at your convenience. We guarantee that there will be no delays or difficulties.

Next-day Turnaround on Test Certificate Where Possible

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 Prices

At AF Acoustics, we offer the most competitive prices in Highams-Park 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 Highams-Park

Whatever the type and size of a domestic or commercial building in Highams-Park, AF Acoustics’ experts can test it for air permeability and issue an ATTMA certificate afterwards. Air tightness test checks the extent of uncontrolled air moving through openings in the building envelope. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. of building fabric.

Approved Document L1A and L2A requires that buildings know their air permeability rates by taking the air leakage test. The maximum air permeability rate is 10m3/h/m2. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. This target can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM. Excessive air leakage causes discomfort due to heat reduction and carbon dioxide discharge. It also creates convective loops within a building’s internal structure, leading to energy loss. 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. To get signed off by building control in Highams-Park, 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. It will also help you reduce the cost of maintaining heating or cooling in your commercial building, making it more productive.

The Part L Test

Air tightness testing has been a mandatory part of the Building Regulations for new build and refurbishment projects since Approved Document L was revised in 2006. Air tightness is also called air leakage rate or ‘air permeability’ rate. Air leakage can happen via holes and splits in the texture of the building envelope (divider/rooftop sections, service penetrations, etc), which may not be obvious. It is compulsory for all commercial buildings with a gross area greater than 500m2 and a representative selection of domestic buildings to undergo air pressure test, as stipulated by Part L of the Building Regulations. The highest air permeability target set is 10m3/h/m2 but your building might need a much lower one. Air tightness is important for meeting the Building Regulations Part L standards, exceeding requirements for low carbon buildings, and overall energy efficiency.

The Part F Test

We will ensure that you exceed all the Parts L and F standards. Not only will we conduct your air tightness test and extract fan flow rate test, we will also recommend experts who can handle your SAP calculations, water calculations and Energy Performance Certificates satisfactorily.
New buildings should ensure that all mechanical extract fans are tested for flow rate, as stipulated by Part F of the Building Regulations. Your building won’t be signed off until Building Control Body (BCB) has been presented the results of the test. 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.


The types of Air Tightness Testing Services We Offer

Air Tightness Testing has different tiers, depending on how complex a building is and its size. Find them below: A single blower door fan is the instrument used for the first level to examine single buildings and smaller non-dwellings from 1m3 to 4000m3. Level 2: Air pressure testing for simple and complex buildings larger than 4000 m³ gross envelope volume which does not include large and complex, high rise (LCHR) buildings, and phased handover/zonal buildings. Third Level – Testing is done for large high rise and phased handover buildings.

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

Air leakage testing is the measurement of uncontrolled ventilation from a building’s fabric. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of m3 per hour, per square metre of building fabric. Air pressure testing is compulsory, according to Approved Document L1A. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. The required air permeability rate for a dwelling can be found on the design-stage SAP report for that dwelling. Uncontrolled ventilation can cause several problems. They are: infiltration of cold air, reduction in heat, more CO2 emission and higher energy costs.

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

Air pressure testing involves the calculation of air escaping through the openings in a building. 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. The result of your dwelling’s air permeability rate might have to be lower than required due to SAP or SBEM assessment. The required air permeability rate for each building can be found on the design-stage SAP or SBEM report for that building. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and draught.

Testing the Smoke Shaft of Automatic Opening Vents

We test the integrity of the smoke shaft to ensure the automatic opening ventilation is placed in the best condition. 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. An air tight shaft creates sufficient pressure difference and ensures that the fans and vents perform properly to draw out smoke from a dwelling and save its 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. The openings for ventilation grilles and extract points on each floor are closed so that the state of the shaft itself is known. Smoke shaft tests occur before installing and commissioning automatic opening ventilation.

Testing Extraction Fans for Air Flow

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 test fan extraction rates. It is important to ensure the ventilation strategy is working effectively. This helps to remove pollutants from the air and control excess humidity, particularly in rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens. 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

The measurement of air pressure in a building is known as an air tightness test. Improving the air tightness of a building not only enhances the comfort of the occupants, but can also increases the building’s energy efficiency.

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.

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

Requirements before the Test

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

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

Calculating the Building Envelope

We take the building envelope calculations before the test. A building envelope is the boundary between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building. 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

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 Changes Per Hour

Air changes per hour are crucial to ventilation design, but it is only occasionally used as the base for the design or calculation. The calculation of residential ventilation rates is dependent on the area of the homes and number of occupants.

Cold Roof Construction Envelope Area Calculation

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.

Measuring a Warm Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

A warm roof is a roof where the insulation is installed on top of the roof structure. The envelope area is the boundary between the internal environment and external environment (adjacent buildings), and can be found on the insulation’s warm part.

Building readiness

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

How the Test Is Done

Check all weather conditions such as temperature, wind speed and barometric pressure. Place the fan on an aperture within the building envelope. Set up testing equipment. Record the air volume flow through the fan (this equals the air leaking through the building envelope). Gradually increase the fan speed from 20-25 Pa to a maximum of 55-60Pa. Record how the air pressure differs at each fan speed.

Air Leakage Measurement

Our competent engineers note the points of air leakage, examine the test data and send test results to the customer in a technical report. If the test fails, we inform clients on what to do about it. Air Leakage Testing and Compliance

Making sure your building is air tight and has adequate ventilation, be it natural, mechanical, or a combination of the two, will aid your comfort. Find below the benefits: Lower energy costs and need for heating appliances due to a higher level of heat retention. A functional ventilation system Your building will have less mould since moisture cannot escape into holes and cavities. Infiltration of air is reduced and the inhabitants are more comfortable. 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. We provide air tightness testing, consultancy, design reviews and support services on all buildings, both dwellings and non-dwellings in Highams-Park. We also provide cost-effective, local service that complies with all relevant Building Standards.


Best Practice Procedures

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. The dwelling should be tested for air permeability in line with existing building standards, as stipulated by Approved Document Part L1A.

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

The Air Tightness Testing & Measurement Association (ATTMA) provides the technical standard to be followed for the testing of dwellings in the UK as set out in 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 Part L 2010 (England and Wales)

If you’re constructing a new dwelling, you have to comply with Approved Document L1A’s stipulation to test it. 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. 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. Find out from your SAP assessor if this is applicable to you. A testing procedure required by Building Regulations is expressed in ATTMA TSL1 for dwellings and ATTMA TSL2 for non-dwellings. Air tightness tests are to be carried out on all residential developments (all the buildings or a selected group) and all certain Non-Dwellings. Buildings with a floor area of less than 500 m2 might not have to take the test. Where air tightness testing is not done, an assumed air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 is used.

Building Regulation Requirements Part L (England and Wales)

An industry-wide competence scheme endorsed by the government is carried out by the ATTMA. It was launched in January 2015 as stipulated in the Technical Standard L1 and L2. The scheme echoes the conditions of the Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) and the National Occupation Standard (NOS) documents.

Testers can be divided into three types

  • A single fan is the instrument used for the first level to examine single buildings and smaller non-dwellings from 1m3 to 4000m3.
  • The second level examines simple and complex buildings greater than 4000m3, with the exclusion of large zonal buildings and complex high-rise buildings unless a level three tester is in charge of the procedure.
  • Level Three: Testing for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings, phased handover/zonal buildings and other complex buildings is carried out by level three experts.

Air Tightness Test Report

Authorised companies, who test buildings of different types, sizes and complexities, give air tightness reports. First, extraction fans are closed. Then, the details and results of the tests are written down in a report. The report will be produced in accordance with company’s procedures, the relevant standards and the requirements of all relevant governing bodies.

Results of the Test

Our test and subsequent results are conducted and written to meet standard requirements, highlight any deviation from the standards and crosscheck air pressure values against target values. We make sure our report has the name of the building, customer, address and tester. 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 – 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 Permeability Pathway Checklist – Use this checklist to make sure you are ready for the test. Ask yourself, “Have I sealed any visible opening?” Check the following appliances.

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

Temporarily cover the following;

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

Air Tightness Testing FAQ’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The common leakage sites are:

All pipe works within the kitchen and bathrooms

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

Our team of experts can support you through the following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. Air tightness testing applies to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gerard Finn

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