Highbury Air Tightness Testing, Licensed 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. We register our air tightness certificates with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), an organisation that encourages proper air leakage applications and promotes quality air tightness screening. Located in Highbury, our company is a committed and accredited air permeability testing service provider; we provide air testing services. You can also call or email us for any of these services:

  • Assessments
  • Consultancy
  • Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing.

Our air leakage test certificate is approved by ATTMA and is an indication that a building has been signed off by building control. 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. Our customers get greater value for money spent, and our testing services are of superior quality.

Our Guarantee

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

What is Air Tightness Testing?

Air tightness testing involves calculating the quantity of air which escapes through holes in the building fabric. Air tightness testing is also known as air pressure testing or air leakage testing. Air leakage 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. An excessive amount of uncontrolled air loss results in heat reduction, making the residents 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 vital in determining the energy efficiency of a new building, air leakage and the build quality. Most building designs take air pressure into account at the beginning of construction in order to have an air-tight envelope and measure up to the required standards. When the building fabric is properly constructed to reduce air loss, the building is economical, and energy efficient.

Air Leakage Explained

Air leakage is where air enters and leaves a building uncontrollably through cracks and holes in the building fabric. Also called infiltration, it differs from ventilation which is the regular, planned and restrained flow of air into a building. As air leakage is uncontrolled, too much air may enter the house during cold or windy weather, leading to excessive heat loss and uncomfortable cold draughts. Air leakage testing plays a significant role in the energy-saving efficacy of properties. With air tightness testing, you can be sure that the building has met the stipulated targets used for energy calculation and air tightness. In England and Wales, air tightness testing has been obligatory since 2006. All new dwellings and non-dwellings over 500m² are to be tested for air permeability.

Air Leakage’s Resulting Outcomes

Heat loss within a building can be caused by air leakage. 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. It doesn’t stop there. Warm, damp air within the building escapes the gaps in its envelope. The water vapour in the moist air condenses on the inner wall surface holes. After a while, it is absorbed into building materials and diffuses, causing potential structural problems. Wooden sheathing or overlay becomes wet, making it weak.

As the years go by, these conditions can result in structural damage.
Other damages that can occur are cold homes which make occupants uncomforta-ble, increase in heating bills to make the internal temperature warmer, and more carbon dioxide discharge since additional heat is required.

Successfully managing the movement of air into and outside the building will limit the damaging effects of moisture. The potential of vulnerable wall structures to absorb condensed moisture is reduced when air barriers are properly installed and uncontrolled air flow is reduced. Proper ventilation, whether active or passive, is critical in expelling undesirable damp scents, water vapour and polluting substances.


The Importance of Air Tightness Test

Air tightness is an important factor in a building’s energy efficiency and is part of government’s plan to battle environmental change by regulating the energy performance of buildings. Environmental change caused by carbon dioxide emissions and global warming is partly aided by the burning of fossil fuels to generate heat. The best way to reduce the quantity of fossil fuel burnt is by stopping air leakage which reduces heat loss. There are also health issues associated with uncontrolled air leakage. When a building has poor levels of controlled ventilation and high levels of uncontrolled air leakage, this can cause excessive moisture and mould growth, leading to poor health. A great option would be to build tight and ventilate right. Air leakage causes infiltration of moisture into the building envelope, leading to health issues and high repair costs.

Recommended Period for Air Tightness Test

Best practice says that air tightness tests should be carried out early in construction and after the final phase. The results of the test can affect a building’s energy ratings because they play a part in SBEM and SAP 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. 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 Highbury have been getting quality air tightness testing. We come highly recommended by our clients because of the following guarantees.

Expert information and service

Due to years of experience in conducting air tightness testing in different kinds of buildings in Highbury, we have the skills to meet your needs no matter the type or size of your property. We have competent and accredited air testing professionals who provide a quality, convenient service. Our personnel will use their expertise to provide lasting solutions. Contact AF Acoustics in Highbury –the right team for your building.

Registered Members of the Leading Air Tightness Body in the UK

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.

Responsive scheduling

We want to provide detailed air permeability testing in Highbury 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.

Test Certificates Get to You on the Next Day, Where Feasible

AF Acoustics offers trustworthy and expert services. We know that clients want to receive their test results quickly. As a result, we endeavour to deliver test certificates by the next day.

Affordable Fees

Save money by paying lower rates at AF Acoustics. As a business with low overheads, we’re able to give you one of the best air leakages testing services in Highbury at reduced costs.

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

We Conduct Tests for All Types of Buildings in Highbury

All domestic and commercial buildings in Highbury can be tested by AF Acoustics, no matter how complex they are. The air tightness tests are carried out by competent testers and you will be issued an ATTMA certificate. Air tightness test checks the extent of uncontrolled air moving through openings in the building envelope. The results are registered as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building.

Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L1A and L2A. Although your building is required to have a rating result of 10m3/h/m2, the actual result might have to be lower than that due to carbon emission requirements. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM. Several problems are caused by uncontrolled ventilation. They are:

  • Infiltration of cold air
  • Wind washing and thermal bypassing, which is when air moves through the inner building of a building fabric to create convective loops inside the walls, making the building less energy efficient
  • Reduction in heat and CO2 emission.

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 Highbury, all buildings are to undergo air tightness testing and measure up to the required energy efficiency standards. Buildings where businesses are conducted will not cause discomfort to employees and clients because they have the legal air permeability rating. Heating and cooling expenses are also reduced and the environment is more productive.

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. Other names for air tightness are air permeability rate or leakage rate. Air leakage can happen via holes and splits in the texture of the building envelope (divider/rooftop sections, service penetrations, etc), which may not be obvious. Part L of the Building Regulations requires that all commercial buildings greater than 500m2 undergo air tightness testing and a selection of residential buildings in a development be tested. 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.

A Description of Part F Test

We can provide you all that you need to serve all your Part L and Part F requirements. 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.
Approved Document F of the Building Regulations requires that all mechanical extract fans in new dwellings be subjected to a flow rate test. The Building Control Body (BCB) has to see the results of the test as part of its sign-off procedure. Examining, documenting and submitting reports of extract fans’ test can be done using three methods. AF Acoustics employs the minimum benchmark procedure (method 3), which involves using a vane anemometer.


The types of Air Tightness Testing Services We Offer

Here are the descriptions of the ways air permeability can be tested: 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. Second Level – Testing is done for building 4000m3 and higher, typically simple and complex dwellings. High rise and phased handover buildings are not part of this test. Third Level – Testing is done for large high rise and phased handover buildings.

Approved Document L1 Air Pressure Testing of Houses

Air pressure testing, involves the calculation of air escaping through openings in a building. The result is written as m3 per hour per square metre of building. Air pressure testing is compulsory, according to Approved Document L1A. Your building may need a lower rate to meet the CO2 discharge target. The required rate can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Air leakage leads to heat loss, increased energy bills, greater CO2 emissions, and an uncomfortable atmosphere for inhabitants due to draughts.

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

Air leakage testing is the measurement of uncontrolled ventilation from a building’s fabric. The air leakage test result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building. Air pressure testing is compulsory, according to Approved Document L2A. Each building tested must achieve a maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2. In order to comply with the SAP assessment, it may be necessary to achieve a lower air permeability rate. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Uncontrolled air leakage can cause several problems. They are: infiltration of cold air, discomfort, reduction in heat, and higher CO2 emission rate.

Air Leakage Test of Smoke Shafts for Auto Vents

We undertake smoke shaft integrity testing to confirm that the shaft is sufficiently air tight in order to allow the automatic opening ventilation to perform as required when it is fitted and commissioned. When there is a fire, the auto opening vents play an important part in expelling smoke in multi-storey buildings. For the vents and fans to operate at the expected level, the smoke shaft must be air tight to create a difference in air pressure and give emergency services when needed. With the right air permeability rate, the vents can operate at their best. We aim for the air permeability rate set by the vent manufacturers. The shaft undergoes air leakage testing when fans are placed inside it. Once the fan is fixed, the extract points and ventilation grilles on each storey are sealed to ensure that the shaft is in proper condition. Once the test is completed and successful, the automatic opening vents are installed.

Testing Extraction Fans for Air Flow

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. We test fan extraction rates. This has not only been made compulsory by Building Regulations; it also helps reduce humidity in rooms, bathrooms and kitchens and expel pollutants. The air flow rates of all intermittent extractor fans, which are to be installed during the building process, are to be tested and the results submitted to the Building Control Body before work is completed.

Air Tightness Test and Building Preparation Method

Air tightness tests calculate the level of air leakage a building has and if it is excessive. The greater the air tightness of a building, the more comfortable the occupants are and the higher its energy performance.

Gaps and cracks in the building that cause air leakage are often difficult to detect. They may be obscured by the internal building finishes. If you know the leakage paths of a building, you will know if it is air tight.

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. Buildings that don’t undergo the test are penalised. All dwellings in a development should be tested to ensure optimum air tightness.

What Should You Do Before Testing Your Building?

Our test engineers would like to see the drawings (plans and elevations) and design air permeability requirements of your building before taking the test. This is to have the needed information for the building and to know the size of the building envelope before coming to the site. Air tightness testing lasts for 30 to 60 minutes and wind speed is not more than 6m/s. Making your building ready by ensuring it has an air tight environment will involve:

  • 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)

How We Measure the Building Envelope

We take the building envelope calculations before the test. The building envelope is the surface area of the thermal boundary of the building. The calculations are taken from the drawings. These are then incorporated into our calculations when we air test the property.

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 Change Rate

Air changes per hour are crucial to ventilation design, but it is only occasionally used as the base for the design or calculation. Residential ventilation rates are measured based on the number of inhabitants and area of residence.

Calculating the Envelope Area of a Cold Roof

When evaluating the roof area of a building, it is important to ensure the area is the same as that of the ground floor. A cold roof has the insulation at the horizontal ceiling level and a large void or space between the insulation and the pitched roof rafters.

Warm Roof Envelope Area Measurement

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. 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.

Site Test Procedure

Check weather conditions (wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure); Connect a fan to an opening, like the door, in the building fabric. Fix the instrument for testing. Record the air volume flow through the fan (this equals the air leaking through the building envelope). Slowly raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to 55-60Pa. Record how the air pressure differs at each fan speed.

Measuring air leakage

We can determine where air leakage is occurring through our test procedure. Once the test has been completed, we crosscheck the data and send a report to you. If the test fails, we will advise you about corrective measures. Testing for Air Tightness & Meeting Part L Standards

When a building has the right kind of ventilation (mechanical, natural or a combination of both) and has a low permeability rate, the advantages to the occupants are numerous. Some of them are: Your heating expenses are less because heat doesn’t escape through a permeable building, and you won’t require appliances with more heating capability. Better performing ventilation system Your building will have less mould since moisture cannot escape into holes and cavities. Fewer draughts, causing more comfort Our air leakage tests are conducted according to building regulations and targets, whether we’re testing a small dwelling or big commercial development. Not only do we provide services that meet building regulation targets, when you employ our services, you’ll save money and spend less in the long run. We test for air permeability, provide consultancy services and support services and review the designs of all buildings, whether domestic or commercial, large or small.


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. Part L1A states that any new building must undergo an air pressure test, according to present regulations.

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

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. They explain in detail and provide guidelines for 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”.

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

Part L 2010 Building Regulation Standards for England and Wales

If you’re constructing a new dwelling, you have to comply with Approved Document L1A’s stipulation to test it. 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 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). Non-Dwellings and residential buildings are required to test for air leakage. If your building has added an estimated assessed rate of 15 m3/h/m2 in its calculations or its useful floor space is less than 500 m2, it may not have to take the test.

Building Regulation Requirements Part L (England and Wales)

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

Air tightness testers can be divided into three categories

  • First Level – For buildings not more than 1m3-4000m3, typically single and smaller non-dwellings, a single fan is used to carry out air tightness testing.
  • 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 3: These are air tightness experts who can cover large, complex and or high-rise buildings and or phased handover or zonal compartmentalisation.

Air Tightness Test Report

Accredited testing companies issue air pressure reports. Sealed extraction fans are sealed for testing and the details and results of the test are written in a report afterwards. The organisation makes sure the report meets the company and government’s requirements.

Air Tightness Test Results

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

Air 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)
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.