ATTMA Licensed Air Tightness Testing in Maryland

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. 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.

Because air leakage is the process whereby air escapes through any crack or hole in the building envelope and influences its energy performance, building regulations have been modified to ensure a building has adequate air tightness. Our Air Tightness Testing certificates are registered with Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), a professional association dedicated to promoting technical excellence in all air tightness testing and air leakage measurement applications. Located in Maryland, our company is a committed and accredited air permeability testing service provider; we provide air testing services. 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.

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. We provide air leakage testing in a professional manner by explaining the testing procedures and highlighting leakage areas in the building fabric. We also suggest long-term remedies based on the results of the tests. 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

What is Air Tightness Testing?

Air tightness testing is a method of measuring the extent to which air is lost through leaks in the building fabric. 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. Draughts are uncontrolled ventilation. Using air tightness testing, the total air lost can be estimated. An excessive amount of uncontrolled air loss results in heat reduction, making the residents uncomfortable. As Government strives to reduce CO2 emissions from new buildings, building regulations now place greater emphasis on reducing air leakage from the building envelope. This reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Air tightness testing is a crucial activity that

  • shows the air leaking from gaps in a building.

The introduction of tougher regulations has led to the construction of high-quality buildings. Building designs employ air tightness procedures from the early part of construction, creating a building that has adequate air tightness built into its design. Understanding this at an early stage can make a build cost-effective, of high quality, and energy efficient by minimising uncontrolled air leakage.

Air Leakage

Air leakage occurs when air escapes through holes and gaps in a building. When the circulation of air is properly monitored and bridled, ventilation has occurred. Another name for air leakage is infiltration. It leads to heat deprivation when cold draughts happen and warmth is needed the most. Because air leakage is uncontrolled ventilation, excessive air flows into the house during windy and wintry weather. 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. In 2006, air tightness of newly constructed buildings and non-dwellings with a floor area over 500m² became compulsory in England and Wales.

What Are the Problems Air Leakage Can Cause?

Air leakage leads to heat reduction. When the weather is cold and windy, unwanted air seeps into a building through the holes and cracks in its fabric, causing heat loss and discomfort. Once there’s infiltration, exfiltration will occur in another part of the building. Warm, moist air seeps into cool cavities in the building’s fabric. 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. The strength of the outer wooden covering is drastically reduced because it is wet.

Over time, any of these conditions can cause structural damage.
The inhabitants become uncomfortable because of chilly homes, heating expenses increase and more CO2 is emitted due to the additional heat required.

The most effective method of lessening the damage caused by moisture is to control the flow 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 You Should Conduct an Air Tightness Test

Air tightness is an important factor in a building’s energy efficiency and is part of government’s plan to battle environmental change by regulating the energy performance of buildings. Environmental change caused by carbon dioxide emissions and global warming is partly aided by the burning of fossil fuels to generate heat. When air leakage is controlled, heat loss and energy used by the heating system are reduced. 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”. High levels of air leakage can lead to moisture ingress into the building fabric, resulting in expensive repair costs and potential health problems due to mould.

When Do I Need an 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 test results are used in SAP and SBEM calculations, this impacts the energy rating of new building. For big residential developments, the test is not required for each house. A group of diverse buildings are picked for the test. 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 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?

Business owners and home owners in Maryland have been helped by AF Acoustics air tightness testing. Because of the following guarantees of working with us, we are highly endorsed by our clients.

Service and knowledge

Our experience in serving diverse customers in Maryland is proof of our ability to satisfy your requirements no matter the size and type of building, or your circumstance. We have competent and accredited air testing professionals who provide a quality, convenient service. AF Acoustics is the crew you need in Maryland to give you the best solutions.

Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA) Registered

We are registered with ATTMA, a professional body that focuses on high quality air tightness testing and air permeability applications. This means our services are endorsed by the leading air leakage testing body in the UK.

When Can You Call Us to Test Your Building?

We want you to be able to access comprehensive air tightness testing in Maryland whenever you need it. We offer responsive scheduling options. You can schedule for air tightness testing at your convenience. You won’t get delays or difficulties when scheduling.

Next-day Turnaround for Certificates

Our customers are eager to get their test results. AF Acoustics, which provides reliable, competent services, strives to issue test certificates on the next day.

Affordable Fees

AF Acoustics offers competitive fees in Maryland. 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

Get Air Leakages Test for Homes and Commercial buildings in Maryland

All domestic and commercial buildings in Maryland can be tested by AF Acoustics, no matter how complex they are. The air tightness tests are carried out by competent testers and you will be issued an ATTMA certificate. An air leakage test is used to determine the level of uncontrolled air flow through gaps or cracks in the fabric of a building. The results are written as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. of a building envelope.

Air tightness testing is recommended by Approved Document L1A and L2A. The design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM of a construction records its required air permeability rate. While the law requires the highest air permeability rate to be 10m3/h/m2, your building might have to get a lower rate to meet the carbon emissions target. 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. Exfiltration/infiltration of air is caused by the difference in air pressure inside and outside the building. Lower pressure occurs as warm air rises and brings air inside through any available opening. To get signed off by building control in Maryland, all buildings are to undergo air tightness testing and measure up to the required energy efficiency standards. Clients and employees will be at ease in their surroundings. In addition, you get lower heating and cooling costs. A comfortable environment results in a higher productivity rate.

The Part L Test

Since Approved Document L was reviewed in 2006, building regulations have demanded that new and rehabilitated constructions conduct air tightness test. 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. To comply with Part L the measured air permeability minimum requirement is 10m3/h/m2 but usually your air permeability target will be much lower. You can exceed the CO2 discharge and Building Regulations target and raise your building’s energy performance by testing for air leakage.

A Description of Part F Test

All your Part L and Part F testing requirements can be met by us. With our organisation, you receive:

  • Expert fan flow rate testing
  • Experienced air pressure testing
  • Professionals who provide Energy Performance Certificate, water and SAP calculations.

New buildings should ensure that all mechanical extract fans are tested for flow rate, as stipulated by Part F of the Building Regulations. Building Control Body (BCB) will see proof that the test has been conducted before signing off your building. There are three alternative methods which can be followed to test, record and report the testing of extractor fans. AF Acoustics test process is the third method. It uses a vane anemometer and is called the minimum benchmark method.


The types of Air Tightness Testing Services We Offer

Air Tightness Testing has different tiers, depending on how complex a building is and its size. Find them below: A single blower door fan is used for air tightness testing for single buildings and smaller non-dwellings not more than 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. Air tightness testing for phased, zonal handover and LCHR constructions is done.

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

Air pressure testing, involves the calculation of air escaping through openings in 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. A building has to achieve a lower rate to meet the carbon dioxide emission target. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss which can lead to draughts and higher energy bills.

Testing of Air Permeability of Commercial Dwellings, in Accordance with Document L2 Stipulations

Air leakage testing is the measurement of uncontrolled ventilation from a building’s fabric. The air leakage test result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building. Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L2A. The results of air permeability rate should not exceed 10m3/h/m2. The result of your dwelling’s air permeability rate might have to be lower than required due to SAP or SBEM assessment. The required air permeability rate for each building can be found on the design-stage SAP or SBEM report for that building. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and draught.

Testing the Smoke Shaft of Automatic Opening Vents

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 the vents and fans to operate at the expected level, the smoke shaft must be air tight to create a difference in air pressure and give emergency services when needed. AF Acoustics aims for the air permeability requirements of the automatic opening vent producers, so that their product can perform optimally. 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. The fixing and commissioning of the auto opening vents happen after the test is completed.

We Offer Extraction Fan Testing

The mandate to construct well insulated and air tight buildings, has made it crucial for satisfactory, enhanced and balanced ventilation systems to be installed. We test fan extraction rates. It is important to ensure the ventilation strategy is working effectively. This helps to remove pollutants from the air and control excess humidity, particularly in rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens. Building Regulations Part F also requires that the air flow test of all extractor fans (such as kitchen and bathroom extract fans) in new buildings to be conducted and results given to Building Control before construction ends.

Air Tightness Test and Building Preparation Method

Air tightness test determines the level of air permeability in a building. The greater the air tightness of a building, the more comfortable the occupants are and the higher its energy performance.

Causes of excess air leakage are often hard to detect. These openings might not be seen because of the internal finishes that have been fixed. The best solution to demonstrate a building’s air tightness level is to check for leakage paths in the building envelope.

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 buildings be tested as those that aren’t are penalised.

Pre-Test Requirements

Our test engineers would like to see the drawings (plans and elevations) and design air permeability requirements of your building before taking the test. This is to have the needed information for the building and to know the size of the building envelope before coming to the site. Air tightness testing lasts for 30 to 60 minutes and wind speed is not more than 6m/s. 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 Measurement

Before coming to the site, we get the measurement of the building’s envelope. The building envelope is the physical separator between the indoors and outdoors. The calculations are taken from the drawings. These are then incorporated into our calculations when we air test the property.

Air Barrier 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

The air change rate is important in designing a ventilation system, however, it is hardly a part of the actual design. Residential ventilation rates are calculated based on area of the residence and number of occupants.

Cold Roof Construction Envelope Area Calculation

It is important to make sure the roof area and ground floor area of a building are equal. A cold roof is the kind of roof where the insulation is fixed in the ceiling joists with space between the insulation and roof rafters.

Evaluating a Warm Roof Envelope Area

In a warm roof, the main insulation is placed below the roof covering. The envelope area is the barrier between the conditioned space in the insulation and the unconditioned space outside.

Building readiness

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

Site Test Process

Check weather conditions (wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure); Fix a fan to an aperture, usually the door, in the building. Set up testing equipment. Note the air flow volume from the fan. This is the same as the air leakage from the building envelope. Gradually increase the fan speed from 20-25 Pa to a maximum of 55-60Pa. Record pressure differences across the building at each fan speed.

Calculating Air Leakage

Our competent engineers note the points of air leakage, examine the test data and send test results to the customer in a technical report. If the test fails, we inform clients on what to do about it. Testing for Air Permeability and Following Part L Building Regulations

An airtight building has several positive impacts when combined with an appropriate ventilation system (whether natural, mechanical, or hybrid): Lower heating bills due to less heat loss, with potentially smaller requirements for heating and cooling equipment capacities A functional ventilation system Lower levels of mould due to less moisture collecting in gaps and cavities. Fewer draughts and enhanced comfort 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

Good & Best Practice Methods

All new buildings, residential or commercial, must be air tight, according to Approved Document Part L1A of Building Regulations (2010). Less fuel and power are consumed by buildings. The dwelling should be tested for air permeability in line with existing building standards, as stipulated by Approved Document Part L1A.

Determining Air Leakage in buildings (Dwellings), According to Technical Standard L1

There are technical standards for air tightness test of buildings in the UK detailed by Air Tightness Test and Measurement Association (ATTMA). This Technical Standard provides detailed guidance and clarification of BS EN 13829:2001: “Thermal Performance of Buildings. Determination of air permeability of buildings. Fan pressurisation method” and ISO 9972:2015: “Thermal performance of buildings – Determination of permeability of buildings – Fan pressurization method”, in order to ensure consistency by testing companies.

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)

Undergoing an air tightness test is compulsory for your new building, according to Part L of Building Regulations. 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. A development with only two dwellings may not undergo a test if a suggested value of 15m3/h/m2 is stipulated in the DER/TER measurements. Your SAP assessor will be able to confirm if this is the case for your dwelling. The required process for testing buildings for air tightness has been declared in ATTMA TSL1 for occupied buildings and ATTMA TSL2 for unoccupied ones. Air leakage testing is compulsory for residential areas 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.

Building Regulations for England and Wales, 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • Air tightness testing for phased, zonal handover, LCHR and multifaceted constructions is carried out by level three experts.

Report for Air Leaks Test

Test reports are issued by registered and licensed air tightness companies who test buildings of different sizes and complexities. Temporary sealing of extraction units will be done by the tester; all test results will be noted, and a shortened form report will be written which will include the findings of the test. The report is in line with the company’s testing process set by government regulations and all relevant governing bodies.

Test Results

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. The identity of the customer, tester, building and address are correctly written in our report. If a building fails the test, we provide remedial suggestions before a retest is carried out.

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 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

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.