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

Air tightness testing, also known as air leakage testing or air permeability testing, establishes the rate at which air flows out of gaps in a building fabric. Since Approved Document L was reviewed in 2006, air tightness testing has become an essential part of building regulations for newly completed and rehabilitated buildings.

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. AF Acoustics certificates are certified by Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA). ATTMA is an association of specialists that concentrate on promoting the best air tightness measurements and air permeability testing techniques. AF Acoustics, a licensed air tightness testing company, is available to provide testing services at your request. Our address is Holland-Park. 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 services provide great value for money at high standards.

Our Guarantee

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

Air Tightness Testing Explained

Air tightness testing is a technique whereby a newly constructed building is evaluated and the quantity of air leaking through is measured. Air tightness testing is also known as air pressure testing or air leakage testing. Air leakage, also known as infiltration or draught, allows air to pass through unwanted leaks in a building; unlike ventilation where the air inside and outside of a building and its flow from one end to the other is controlled. 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. Calculating the emission of air from a building’s fabric, establishes the energy efficiency of the building. The building regulations have made air tightness part of the building’s design from the beginning of the construction. This ensures that the fabric of a building is air tight. This can make a building more energy efficient since air leakage is under control. It will also be cost effective and of high quality.

What Is Air Leakage?

This occurs when openings in a building lead to excess air flow into and out of the building. Also known as infiltration, it is different from ventilation, which is air that enters a building in a controlled manner. Because of the nature of air leakage, excessive air infiltration might occur in a building when the weather is windy and chilly. This results in loss of warmth and an unpleasant cold draughts. How do you know if a building is energy efficient? By testing its air permeability. This lets the occupants know if the building meets standard air-tightness requirements. All commercial buildings over 500m² and new buildings in England and Wales are mandated to test for air tightness and permeability, according to the 2006 Building Regulations.

The Impact of Air Leakage

Air leakage causes heat loss. 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. Movement of moist air into cavities in other parts of the building also occur. This process is called exfiltration. Once the moist air reaches the colder internal layer of the wall structure, the vapour in it condenses and forms droplets of liquid, which drawn into building materials and can potentially start a multitude of structural problems. There could be a decrease in the toughness and solidity of wet wooden covering due to rot.

As the years go by, these conditions can result in structural damage.
The inhabitants become uncomfortable because of chilly homes, heating expenses increase and more CO2 is emitted due to the additional heat required.

These effects can be mitigated by controlling the circulation of air 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. To get rid of pollutants, water vapour and moisture odour, the building must be well ventilated.


Why is an Air Tightness Test Important?

Air tightness is a key factor in building energy efficiency, and is a part of government-led initiative to combat climate change through improvements in building energy performance. Fossil fuel is burnt to heat up a building. This leads to a discharge of carbon dioxide which increases global warming. A reduction in air leakage lessens the heat needed to keep a building warm. 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. Best practice advice is to “Build tight, ventilate right”. Excess air leakage leads to moisture in the building envelope, causing large repair expenses and medical issues because of mould.

Recommended Period for Air Tightness Test

A building should ideally be air tightness tested early in the construction process and again at the end of the building project, although sometimes only the final check is carried out. The results of the test are used in SAP and SBEM calculations, and can influence a building’s overall energy rating. For big residential developments, the test is not required for each house. A group of diverse buildings are picked for the test. 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.

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. Selective testing is not advisable, as it does not give a realistic picture of the air tightness of each individual building. A tested property might be a lot tighter than an untested property. Also, the penalty implemented on the untested houses make air permeability rates very difficult to achieve.

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 Holland-Park. We are recommended by our clients for the following reasons.

Helpful service and information

Our vast experience in serving a variety of clients in Holland-Park guarantees we have the expertise to satisfy your needs regardless your unique circumstances, type or size of property. Our accredited air testing experts are polite and competent. They are trained to provide the service you need and fit around your project. If you need knowledgeable and trustworthy air leakage experts who can provide exemplary results, AF Acoustics is the team you need in Holland-Park.

We Are Registered Members of the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA)

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

Our comprehensive air permeability testing in Holland-Park is available. We offer responsive scheduling options. You can schedule for air tightness testing at your convenience. You won’t get delays or difficulties when scheduling.

You Could Get Your Certificates on the Next Day

AF Acoustics has professional speedy services to satisfy clients who want their test results immediately. We have a next day turnaround policy for our test certificates and endeavour to deliver in all situations.

Affordable Prices

AF Acoustics offers competitive fees in Holland-Park. Since we’re a small business, we offer less expensive air permeability testing and render high quality services.

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

Air Permeability Testing for Different Kinds of Commercial and Domestic Dwellings in Holland-Park

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. Air permeability testing calculates how much air moves through spaces in your building’s fabric. 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 requires that buildings know their air permeability rates by taking the air leakage test. The maximum air permeability rate is 10m3/h/m2. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. This target can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM. Excess air leakage causes heat loss, greater carbon dioxide discharge and can make occupants uncomfortable due to the influx of cold air. It also causes wind washing and thermal bypassing, resulting in lower energy performance. 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 Holland-Park, all buildings are to undergo air tightness testing and measure up to the required energy efficiency standards. For your commercial building, air tightness testing will ensure your staff and clients are in a comfortable environment. Heating and cooling expenses are also reduced and the environment is more productive.

Part L Test

Air tightness testing is a Building Regulations obligation for new buildings, commercial developments and revamped buildings. This was put into effect in 2006 after Document L was reappraised. 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. Samples of houses in an area and all non-domestic buildings with more than an area of to m2 must be tested, according to Part L of the Building Regulations. Part L has also set a maximum air permeability target rate of 10m3/h/m2, but a building usually needs lower levels. You can exceed the CO2 discharge and Building Regulations target and raise your building’s energy performance by testing for air leakage.

Part F Test Explained

We will ensure that you exceed all the Parts L and F standards. 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.
New buildings should ensure that all mechanical extract fans are tested for flow rate, as stipulated by Part F of the Building Regulations. Your building won’t be signed off until Building Control Body (BCB) has been presented the results of the test. You can test, document and report the test of your building’s extractor fans in three ways. AF Acoustics test process is the third method. It uses a vane anemometer and is called the minimum benchmark method.


What Kinds of Air Tightness Testing Services Do We Offer?

Here are the descriptions of the ways air permeability can be tested: 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. The third level tests big and complex zonal and phased buildings and complex high rise buildings.

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

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 per hour per square metre of building. Document L1A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate 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.

Approved Document L2A Air Pressure Testing of Commercial Constructions

Air pressure testing involves the calculation of air escaping through the openings in a building. The air leakage test result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building. Part L2A of Building Regulations has demanded that such tests be conducted. The maximum air permeability rate for a dwelling tested is 10m3/h/m2. A building will usually have to achieve a lower rate to meet the SAP or SBEM assessment. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. An excessive amount of air leakage leads to greater energy expenses, heat reduction, carbon dioxide discharge and draughts.

We Offer Smoke Shaft Air Pressure Testing

We provide smoke shaft tests to make sure it is air tight enough to let the automatic opening ventilation work optimally when it’s installed and commissioned. When there is a fire, the auto opening vents play an important part in expelling smoke in multi-storey buildings. An air tight shaft creates sufficient pressure difference and ensures that the fans and vents perform properly to draw out smoke from a dwelling and save its occupants. We’re committed to automatic opening vents builders’ target for air permeability. This enables the vents to work efficiently. The shaft undergoes air leakage testing when fans are placed inside it. The intended openings of the shaft (i.e. extract point and openings for ventilation grilles on each floor) are sealed off for the test so that the integrity of the shaft itself can be determined. This test is conducted before the automatic opening ventilation is fixed and commissioned.

Air Flow Measurement of Domestic Ventilation (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 evaluate 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.

Particular Test and Building Readiness Operation

The measurement of air pressure in a building is known as an air tightness test. 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. 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 advise that all buildings undergo air pressure testing as there is a penalty for those that don’t.

Requirements before the Test

Our test engineers require the drawings (plans and elevations) and target air permeability requirements of your building before taking the test. The duration of air pressure testing is 30 to 60 minutes in most cases and the wind speed should not be more than 6m/s. Test engineers need the drawings and air permeability details from clients so that they can know the size of the building envelope and other information before arriving at the building. An air tight environment should be created in your building before the test to ensure optimal results. Do the following:

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

Building Envelope Calculations

Before coming to the site, we get the measurement of the building’s envelope. 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, which are extracted from the drawings, are fed into our estimations when testing your building for air leaks.

Air Permeability from the Envelope Area

It is defined as air leakage rate per hour per square metre of envelope area at the test reference pressure differential of 50 pascals (50n/m2). The envelope area, or measured part of the building, is 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. 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 its insulation at the ceiling level, with space between the insulation and rafters.

Measuring a Warm Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

A warm roof is a roof system where the insulation is fixed along the rafters with an air barrier inside 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

How the Test Is Done

Measure the weather conditions. Check the temperature, barometric pressure and wind speed. Connect a fan (or fans) to an aperture in the building envelope (e.g. door). Fix the instrument for testing. Using the fan, measure the air flow volume, from the building fabric. Gradually increase the fan speed from 20-25 Pa to a maximum of 55-60Pa. At each fan speed, note the differences in air pressure in all the parts of the building.

Measuring air leakage

We analyse the air tightness test data, point out any air leakage path and send a report to clients. If the building fails the test, we suggest remedial measures to the client. Testing for Air Tightness & Meeting Part L Standards

A low leakage building that is properly ventilated, whether natural, hybrid or mechanical, is very beneficial. The benefits are: 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 Lower probability of mould because moist air won’t condense in the openings in the building envelope. Thermal comfort is enhanced because air infiltration is lower. From the smallest to biggest building or development, we adhere to Building Regulations Part L and Building Standards. They also ensure that you spend less money. Here are the services we provide:

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

Good and Best Practice Styles

Any new building has to be air tight. The 2010 Approved Document L1A of Building Regulations has made it compulsory. Less fuel and power are consumed by buildings. Part L1A states that new dwellings should be tested for air tightness in accordance with existing 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. BS EN 13829:2001 and ISO 9972:2015 are clarified by the technical standards. The technical standards provide rules that ensure testing organisations get the same results from the same kind of tests and are based on BS EN 13829 “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

Building Regulation Part L 2010 (England and Wales)

If you are constructing a dwelling the Approved Document L1A states that you must perform an air pressure test. 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. Find out from your SAP assessor if this is applicable to you. A testing procedure required by Building Regulations is expressed in ATTMA TSL1 for dwellings and ATTMA TSL2 for non-dwellings. Air 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

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

Air leakage testers have three levels

  • 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.
  • Level 2: Testers can test all buildings except large, complex and or high-rise buildings and or phased handover or zonal buildings unless part of a team managed by a level 3 tester.
  • Air tightness testing for phased, zonal handover, LCHR and multifaceted constructions is carried out by level three experts.

Air Pressure Test

Authorised companies, who test buildings of different types, sizes and complexities, give air tightness 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.

Test Outcomes

We analyse our tests and results for any divergence from the standards required and check the air pressure rate against target rate. That way, our results are expressed in line with test standards. 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

Go through the list below and send the design air testing permeability value to us before we get to the site.

Air Permeability Pathway Checklist – Use this checklist to make sure you are ready for the test. Ask yourself, “Have I sealed any visible opening?” Check the following appliances.

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

Temporarily cover the following;

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

Air Tightness Testing FAQ’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The common leakage sites are:

All pipe works within the kitchen and bathrooms

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

Our team of experts can support you through the following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. Air tightness testing applies to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gerard Finn

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