ATTMA Licensed Air Tightness Testing in Highgate-Wood

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. Air tightness testing became an integral part of building regulations for new buildings, commercial developments and revamped buildings in 2006 after Document L was reviewed.

Changes to building regulations have addressed air leaks which affect a building’s energy efficiency. Our certificates for air tightness testing are registered with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), a professional body that focuses on high quality air tightness testing and air permeability applications. As a certified air leakage testing company in Highgate-Wood, we are ready to provide testing services whenever you want. You can also contact us for assessments and consultancy services. In addition to air leakage testing, we provide Part F Mechanical extract fan flow rate testing.

Our air leakage test certificate is approved by ATTMA and is an indication that a building has been signed off by building control. We are professionals who take the time to explain the testing process, we are able to give informed advice on where problem areas may occur during testing, and how improvements can be made based on results of air pressure testing. 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

What is Air Tightness Testing?

Air tightness testing is carried out to determine the volume of air escaping from holes in a building fabric. Other names for air tightness testing are air leakage testing and air pressure testing. While the normal restrained movement of air all through a building is called ventilation, the unchecked movement of air through cracks and gaps in a building is air leakage; also known as draught or infiltration. Air tightness testing evaluates the complete air leakage a building has in every gap available. The air leakage is known as uncontrolled ventilation. Unrestrained air movement leads to heat reduction, making the inhabitants of the building uncomfortable. Regulations now concentrate on minimising air leakage from the building envelope thereby reducing the amount of fuel burned for maintenance. This helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Air tightness testing is vital in determining the energy efficiency of a new building, air leakage and the build quality. Building plans will often consider air tightness at the beginning stages of development so as to measure up to stricter building standards. Understanding this at an early stage can make a build cost-effective, of high quality, and energy efficient by minimising uncontrolled air leakage.

What Air Leakage Is

Air leakage occurs when air escapes through holes and gaps in a building. Also called infiltration, it differs from ventilation which is the regular, planned and restrained flow of air into a building. It may cause uncontrolled influx of air during frosty and windy weather. This reduces the temperature of the building, making the occupants uncomfortable. 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 obligatory since 2006. All new dwellings and non-dwellings over 500m² are to be tested for air permeability.

The Impact of Air Leakage

Air leakage causes heat loss. During windy or cold weather, the infiltration of uncontrolled air through cracks in a building envelope occurs, leading to heat reduction. It doesn’t stop there. Warm, damp air within the building escapes the gaps in its envelope. The warm air is filled with moisture, which hits the inner wall surface and condenses. Moisture is sucked into the building material, and this can lead to serious structural issues. There could be a decrease in the toughness and solidity of wet wooden covering due to rot.

Over the years, these problems can damage the building’s structure.
Other effects of air leakage are:

  • Discomfort; the environment is colder
  • Higher heat cost; a way of combating the cold, and
  • More CO2 emission because of the extra heat used.

The best way to reduce the harmful effect of moisture is to efficiently control how air moves into and out of the building. Adequately installed air barriers minimise air leaks and the probability of vapour condensing and diffusing into the building’s structure. 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 an important factor in a building’s energy efficiency and is part of government’s plan to battle environmental change by regulating the energy performance of buildings. Heating buildings contribute to global warming and CO2 emissions, since fossil fuels are used to create heat. When air leakage is controlled, heat loss and energy used by the heating system are reduced. Uncontrolled air leakage also results in health problems. Coupled with poor air circulation, it leads to the growth of mould and mildew. 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 Is an Air Tightness Test Needed?

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. The test results are used in SAP and SBEM calculations, this impacts the energy rating of new building. Large residential areas do not need each building to be tested. Instead, different types of dwellings are tested. This type of testing attracts a penalty of +2m3/h/m2, consequently, if the target result is 5m3/h/m2, a lower score of 3 would have to be attained.

Where the dwelling has not been pressure tested, the assessed air permeability is the average test result obtained from other dwellings of the same dwelling type on the development, increased by +2.0 m3/h/m2 at 50 Pa. Selective testing is not recommended because: i.It is quite tough to achieve the lower air permeability rate set for untested dwellings. ii.The proper air tightness rate for each building in the development cannot be attained, as only some underwent air tightness testing; a tested building might be much tighter than an untested one.

Why Pick AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing?

At AF Acoustics, our air tightness testing expertise has helped many home and business owners in Highgate-Wood. We are recommended by our clients for the following reasons.

Service and knowledge

Due to years of experience in conducting air tightness testing in different kinds of buildings in Highgate-Wood, we have the skills to meet your needs no matter the type or size of your property. 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. Do you need trustworthy professionals who will provide great results in Highgate-Wood? Contact AF Acoustics today.

Registered Members of the Leading Air Tightness Body in the UK

AF Acoustics is a member of ATTMA, an association of specialists that concentrates on promoting the best air tightness measurements and air permeability testing techniques. It is the leading air permeability testing body in the UK and has recognised our competence and services.

When to Call Us to Test Your Building

We want you to be able to access comprehensive air tightness testing in Highgate-Wood whenever you need it. 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.

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

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

Affordable Fees

At AF Acoustics, we offer the most competitive prices in Highgate-Wood 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 Highgate-Wood

Whatever the type and size of a domestic or commercial building in Highgate-Wood, AF Acoustics’ experts can test it for air permeability and issue an ATTMA certificate afterwards. You can find out how much uncontrolled ventilation your building has by testing it for air leakages. The results are registered as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building.

Air leakage testing is required by Approved Document L1A and L2A. The 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. 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.

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. Air tightness testing is required by law for domestic buildings to ensure energy efficiency and comfort within the home environment. It is also a legal requirement that all new builds have an air tightness test carried out to meet energy efficiency standards before it can get signed off by building control in Highgate-Wood. Buildings where businesses are conducted will not cause discomfort to employees and clients because they have the legal air permeability rating. It will also help you reduce the cost of maintaining heating or cooling in your commercial building, making it more productive.

Part L Test Explained

Air tightness testing has been a compulsory part of the Building Regulations for new dwellings, renovations and commercial projects since the revision of Document L in 2006. Air tightness is also called air leakage rate or ‘air permeability’ 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 non-domestic buildings which have a gross floor area greater than 500m2, be subject to mandatory air permeability tests. For domestic dwellings, a sample of houses (in a development) must be tested. The highest air permeability target set is 10m3/h/m2 but your building might need a much lower one. Air leakage is vital to a building’s energy efficiency and is needed to meet Building Regulations Part L and carbon emission standards.

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.
Get the mechanical extract fans tested for flow rate. This is what Building Regulations Approved Document F requires. Building Control Body (BCB) will see proof that the test has been conducted before signing off your building. Examining, documenting and submitting reports of extract fans’ test can be done using three methods. Use method 3 – the minimum benchmark method, which tests extractor fans with vane anemometers. This is our testing procedure.


Forms of Air Pressure Testing Services We Provide

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. 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. Level Three: At this level, tests for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings.

Testing of Air Permeability of Residences and Apartments, in Accordance with Document L1 Stipulations

An air leakage test is a test to determine the level of uncontrolled air flow through gaps or cracks in the fabric of a building. The result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L1A. 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. Uncontrolled ventilation can cause several problems. They are: infiltration of cold air, reduction in heat, more CO2 emission and higher energy costs.

Commercial Building Testing as Required by Approved Document L2A

Air tightness testing determines the extent of air leaking from a building’s envelope. The test results are inscribed using m3 per hour per square metre. Air tightness testing is required by Building Regulations. Each building tested must achieve a maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2. A building will usually have to achieve a lower rate to meet the SAP or SBEM assessment. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and draught.

Testing the Smoke Shaft of Automatic Opening Vents

To ensure that the auto opening vent will perform optimally when fitted and commissioned, we test the smoke shaft to verify its air tightness. Automatic opening vents help storey buildings dispel smoke when there is a fire. For it to expel smoke from a building and keep the occupants safe during emergencies, the shaft must be air tight enough to create substantial pressure difference. We’re committed to automatic opening vents builders’ target for air permeability. This enables the vents to work efficiently. Fans are placed in the smoke shaft to conduct an air tightness test. The usual openings are closed off too so that the shaft’s integrity can be determined. This test is conducted before the automatic opening ventilation is fixed and commissioned.

Domestic Ventilation Air Flow Testing (Extract Fans)

With the legal requirement for buildings that have the right quantity of air pressure, adequate ventilation that is suitable, effective and of high quality has become crucial. We have the capacity to test extraction rates. 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. 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 test determines the level of air permeability in a building. When air leakage is reduced in a building, the occupants will not experience discomfort and the energy performance will increase.

External claddings and the internal building finishes might obscure a gap in the building fabric. This makes it hard to notice and can results to potential air leakage. To ensure that the air tightness of a building is optimal, gaps and spaces in the building have to be found and measured.

At least 20% of different kinds of dwellings in a development have to be tested, according to new regulations; but the reliability of the sample from this type of testing is determined by the types of buildings in the development. We recommend that all dwellings be tested, as there is a penalty for developments that are not tested.

Pre-Test Requirements

Our test engineers require the drawings (plans and elevations) and target air permeability requirements of your building before taking the test. An Air tightness test can be done in 30 – 60mins. Wind speed should not exceed 6m/s. Test engineers need to know the size of a building envelope and requirements before coming to the site. To prepare the site for the test, 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)

How We Measure the Building Envelope

We conduct building envelope calculations prior to the test. The building envelope is the surface area of the structural barrier of a building. It separates the interior from the exterior part of the dwelling The calculations are taken from the drawings. These are then incorporated into our calculations when we air test the property.

Envelope Area Air Permeability

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 exchange rate is vital to ventilation design but it isn’t used as the determinant of the actual design or calculation. The calculation of residential ventilation rates is dependent on the area of the homes and number of occupants.

Measuring a Cold Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

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.

Evaluating a Warm Roof Envelope Area

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, found at the insulation’s warm side, is the separator between the conditioned internal aspect and the unconditioned.

Preparing the Building

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

How the Test Is Done

Evaluate the weather (barometric pressure, wind speed and temperature) Connect a fan to an opening, like the door, in the building fabric. Set up the equipment for air tightness testing. 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.

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. Air Leakage Testing and Compliance

A low leakage building that is properly ventilated, whether natural, hybrid or mechanical, is very beneficial. The benefits 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 ventilation system Lower levels of mould due to less moisture collecting in gaps 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. They also ensure that you spend less money. Here are the services we provide:

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

Best Practice Procedures

Building Regulation Part L1A 2010 stipulates that all new buildings must have low air permeability. The regulation helps to reduce the use of fuel and power. Part L1A further makes it obligatory for new buildings to be tested for air permeability in line with existing building standards.

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 ensure that all companies have similar testing procedures. They are:

  • “Thermal Performance of Buildings. Determination of air permeability of buildings. Fan pressurisation method” BS EN 13829:2001, and
  • “Thermal performance of buildings – Determination of permeability of buildings – Fan pressurization method” ISO 9972:2015
Call us today for a quote on 020 3372 4430
Or you can email us at info@af-acoustics.com

Building Regulation 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. 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 there are no more than two new dwellings, using an assumed value of 15m3/h/m2 in the DET/TER calculations might exempt them from air tightness testing. Find out from your SAP assessor if this is applicable to you. ATTMA TSL1 and ATTMA TSL2 prescribe methods for testing occupied and unoccupied buildings. 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

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. It mirrors the operation standards and skill requirements set by the National Occupation Standard (NOS) and the Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) document.

Air tightness testers can be divided into three categories

  • Air tightness testing for single buildings and smaller non-dwellings not more than 4000m3 is done with a fan.
  • Air tightness testing is done in all dwellings but big phased handover/zonal and high rise (LCHR) constructions are not included except a level three tester is the head of the team.
  • 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

Air leakage test reports are given by authorised organisations that test different buildings. The testing companies seal extraction fans. After the test has been completed, they record test findings and results in a report. The report adheres to the company’s methods and all standards and requirements of Building Regulations.

Test Outcomes

AF Acoustics will ensure the test result is written in accordance with the test standard requirements, identify any deviations from the relevant standards within the report and check air tightness against target value. 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

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 Listing – You must ensure the following are properly sealed and don’t have any openings.

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

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

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

Air Tightness Testing FAQ’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The common leakage sites are:

All pipe works within the kitchen and bathrooms

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

Our team of experts can support you through the following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. Air tightness testing applies to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.