Air Tightness Testing, Certified by AF-Acoustics, in Holborn

Air tightness testing determines the quantity of air coming out of cracks in a building. It is also known as air permeability testing or air leakage testing. Air tightness testing 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. Located in Holborn, 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.

As registered members of the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association, our air leakage test certificate is accepted as evidence for 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. AF Acoustics provides services that are cost effective and of high standard.

Our Guarantee

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

Air Tightness Testing – What It Means

Air tightness testing is 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 leakage is uncontrolled ventilation. Air tightness testing is the approved method for gauging the entire air that has leaked through a building fabric. When too much air leaks through a building’s fabric, heat loss occurs, making the occupants uncomfortable. Because the government is striving to scale back carbon dioxide discharge from new buildings, building rules now focuses on reducing air loss from the building envelope. This helps reduce CO2 emissions. Calculating the emission of air from a building’s fabric, establishes the energy efficiency of the building. 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

Air leakage is where air enters and leaves a building uncontrollably through cracks and holes in the building fabric. It is also referred to as infiltration and is the opposite of ventilation which involves well managed circulation of air in 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 and a dwelling’s energy efficiency are intertwined. Testing is needed to verify that air tightness levels used in the building’s energy calculations align with the targets required by the law. Air tightness testing is compulsory for all new constructions and non dwellings with a floor area over 500m² in England and Wales. This came into effect in 2006.

Effects of Air Leakage

Air leakage leads to heat reduction. During windy or cold weather, the infiltration of uncontrolled air through cracks in a building envelope occurs, 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. Wooden sheathing or overlay becomes wet, making it weak.

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’

The most effective method of lessening the damage caused by moisture is to control the flow of air into and out of the building. Air leakage and vapour diffusion are minimised when barriers are installed. To get rid of pollutants, water vapour and moisture odour, the building must be well ventilated.


Why You Should Conduct an Air Tightness Test

Climate change caused by carbon dioxide emission is an environmental hazard that government is trying to curb. Energy performance and air tightness is a key part of this plan. Heating buildings involves burning fossil fuel which increases CO2 emissions and causes global warming. The best way to reduce the quantity of fossil fuel burnt is by stopping air leakage which reduces heat loss. Properties with uncontrolled air leakage also cause health issues. A building with poor ventilation and high air permeability is conducive for moisture and mould growth which can affect the inhabitant’s health. A great option would be to build tight and ventilate right. High degrees of air leaks cause huge problems such as expensive remedial work on the building and medical problems.

When Should an Air Tightness Test Be Done?

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 results of the test can affect a building’s energy ratings because they play a part in SBEM and SAP calculations. Individual property is not tested in a large residential development. The test is done on different types of houses within the area. Selective testing has a penalty of +2m3/h/m2. If target score is 5m3/h/m2, air tightness test score will have to be 3m3/h/m2.

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. 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.

The reasons Why You Should Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing

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

Expert information and service

In Holborn, we have served many clients. The experience garnered from our years of service will help us meet your specific needs no matter the size or type of property. 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 Holborn? 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.

Responsive scheduling

We want you to be able to access comprehensive air tightness testing in Holborn whenever you need it. We offer responsive scheduling options. You can schedule for air tightness testing at your convenience. We guarantee that there will be no delays or difficulties.

Quick Turnaround on Test Certificates Where Possible

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

AF Acoustics, a small business with low overheads, offers one of the best prices in Holborn and guarantees professional services.

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

Get Air Leakages Test for Homes and Commercial buildings in Holborn

We conduct air permeability tests on residential and commercial buildings of all sizes and types. After the test, an ATTMA certificate is given to you. The best way to determine how much air seeps through a building’s fabric is through air permeability testing. The test results are described as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre..

Approved Document L1A and L2A demands that buildings take tests for air leaks. A maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2 is required. However, a building has to achieve a lower rate to meet the carbon emission target. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP assessment 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.

The warm air within a building rises, leading to the influx of cold air through gap, cracks and other openings in the building envelope. The increasing difference in air pressure results in infiltration and exfiltration of air. To get signed off by building control in Holborn, 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. The company also gets reduced heating and cooling costs and higher productivity rates.

Part L Test Explained

In 2006, Approved Document L was reviewed and building regulations for air permeability became tighter. The air tightness test is presently a requirement for new buildings and reconstructions. The air-tightness of a building is known as its ‘air permeability’ or leakage rate. 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. The Building Regulations (Part L) demand that a selected group of different kinds of residential constructions and all non-domestic buildings greater than 500m2 perform air leakage tests. The maximum air permeability rating allowed is 10m3/h/m2, but your building might need a lower rating ts. Air permeability is key in the following areas: i. A construction’s energy performance, ii. CO2 emission targets iii. Building Regulations Part L standards

Part F Test Explained

We will ensure that you exceed all the Parts L and F standards. In addition to conducting your air pressure test and extract fan flow rate testing, we can put you in contact with professionals who provide SAP calculations, Energy Performance Certificates, 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. Building Control Body (BCB) has made a presentation of evidence of the test a compulsory aspect of a building’s sign-off process. You can test, document and report the test of your building’s extractor fans in three ways. Using a vane anemometer, our testing procedure follows Method 3 – The minimum benchmark method.


Forms of Air Pressure Testing Services We Provide

There are different levels of air tightness testing established from the size and complexity of a building. An overview of each is provided below: 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 Two: Single and multifaceted buildings 4000m3 gross envelope volume and above are tested for air pressure. High rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings are excluded from this level. Air tightness testing for phased, zonal handover and LCHR constructions is done.

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

Air tightness testing determines the extent of air leaking out a building’s envelope. The result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Part L1A of Building Regulations stipulates that such tests be conducted. Your building may need a lower rate to meet the CO2 discharge target. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Uncontrolled ventilation can cause several problems. They are: infiltration of cold air, reduction in heat, more CO2 emission and higher energy costs.

Testing of Air Permeability of Commercial Dwellings, in Accordance with Document L2 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 L2A. The test results have a limit; they shouldn’t be higher than 10m3/h/m2. The SAP or SBEM assessment for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. The air permeability target can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Excess air leakage causes heat loss, greater carbon dioxide discharge and influx of cold air.

Testing the Smoke Shaft of Automatic Opening 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. Automatic opening vents are crucial during fire emergencies in storey buildings, as they clear out smoke from the buildings. 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. AF Acoustics aims for the air permeability requirements of the automatic opening vent producers, so that their product can perform optimally. An air pressure test is taken for the smoke shaft by installing a fan inside. 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. The fixing and commissioning of the auto opening vents happen after the test is completed.

We Offer Extraction Fan Testing

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 test is required by law and it enables a building have a high-quality ventilation system that is efficient and removes pollutants and odours while limiting humidity in rooms, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Part F states that all new constructions must have intermittent extractor fans whose air flow rates will be calculated and the results given to Building Control before the building work is finished.

Air Tightness Test and Building Preparation Method

Air tightness tests calculate the level of air leakage a building has and if it is excessive. If the rate of air pressure is good, the energy performance of a building will be high and the inhabitants will be comfortable.

External claddings and the internal building finishes might obscure a gap in the building fabric. This makes it hard to notice and can results to potential air leakage. If you know the leakage paths of a building, you will know if it is air tight.

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.

What Should You Do Before Testing Your Building?

The client needs to send our test engineers the drawings of the development (plans and elevations) and target air permeability requirements. 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. To prepare the site for the test, do the following:

  • Turning off all range stoves and cookers (if applicable)
  • Turning off mechanical vents
  • Shutting all windows and external doors
  • Sealing ventilation grids and smoke vents
  • Filling the drainage stops

Calculating the Building Envelope

We conduct building envelope calculations prior to the test. The building envelope, is the physical barrier between the exterior and interior of a construction. 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 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. Residential ventilation rates are calculated based on area of the residence and number of occupants.

Cold Roof Envelope Area Measurement

The area of the roof and ground floor should be the same. A cold roof has its insulation at the ceiling level, with space between the insulation and 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 is the boundary or barrier containing the overall internal ‘conditioned space’ separating it from the external environment (or non-conditioned spaces and adjacent buildings), and this is located on the warm side of the insulation.

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

Site Test Process

Check weather conditions (wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure); Place the fan on an aperture within the building envelope. Ensure all the testing equipment is ready. Record the air volume flow passing through the fan. Slowly raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to 55-60Pa. Note the difference in air pressure in several parts of the building at each fan speed.

Measuring air leakage

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

An airtight building has several positive impacts when combined with an appropriate ventilation system (whether natural, mechanical, or hybrid): The occupants will pay less for heat because less heat is lost and they won’t need equipment with high heating capacities. Better performing 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. Be assured that you’ll get a test that meets all the regulations and standards no matter how big or small your building is. We render cost-effective services that include air leakage tests, design reappraisal, consultancy and support services for dwellings and non-dwellings in Holborn.


Good and Best Practice Styles

When constructing a new building, it should be built air tight, as stated by Building Regulations – Approved Document L1A. Less fuel and power are consumed by buildings. Part L1A has demanded that all new dwellings be tested for air leaks in line with other regulations.

Air Tightness Testing of Dwellings That Meet Technical Standard L1L1

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

Part L 2010 Building Regulation Standards for England and Wales

If you are constructing a dwelling the Approved Document L1A states that you must perform an air pressure test. For developments of two or more dwellings, an air leakage test should be carried out on the three units of each dwelling type; or 50% of all instances of that dwelling type. Where there are only one or two new buildings, add an assumed value of 15m3/h/m2 to the DET/TER measurements; an air tightness test may not need to be carried out. Your SAP assessor will let you know if you can do this for your building. A testing procedure required by Building Regulations is expressed in ATTMA TSL1 for dwellings and ATTMA TSL2 for non-dwellings. Air leakage testing is required on all residential developments (this may be a sample of units) and certain Non-Dwellings. 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.

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

There are three levels of testers:

  • 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 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

Test reports are issued by registered and licensed air tightness companies who test buildings of different sizes and complexities. 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.

Test Outcomes

AF Acoustics will make sure the result is written in line with test requirements, detect any part of the test that is not in line with the standards required and check actual air tightness against required rate. 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

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

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

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

Here are the appliances you should seal temporarily;

  • Cooker hoods
  • Extractor fans/MVHR terminals
  • Trickle vents
  • Chimney flues and air bricks

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.