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

Air tightness testing, also called air leakage testing or air pressure testing, calculates the quantity of air escaping through openings in a building. Air tightness testing has been a compulsory part of the building regulations for new dwellings, renovations and commercial projects since the revision of Document L in 2006.

Air 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. 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. We are dedicated and accredited air leakage testing service providers in Merton and we are available to provide you with testing services whenever required. We also provide Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing, assessments and consultancy services.

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

Our Guarantee

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

Air Tightness Testing – What It Means

Air tightness testing involves calculating the quantity of air which escapes through holes in the building fabric. It can also be called air pressure testing or air leakage testing. Air leakage is the draught or infiltration of unbridled air through the spaces and openings in a building. It is different from ventilation, which is the contained circulation of air within and outside the building. Air tightness testing is done to calculate the total quantity of air that escapes through cracks in the building. Such air leakage is called uncontrolled ventilation (draughts). Unrestrained air movement leads to heat reduction, making the inhabitants of the building uncomfortable. The government aims to lessen the quantity of air flowing from newly built buildings. Therefore, regulations have been put in place to reduce uncontrolled ventilation from the building envelope, sustaining the right temperature conditions without using so much fuel. Air tightness testing is important in establishing air leakage from a building’s fabric, the energy efficiency of a new building and in identifying poor build quality within new developments. 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. A building that is air tight A building that is air tight is more economical and ensures less drafts ALS energy efficient.

Air Leakage Explained

Air leakage is where air enters and leaves a building uncontrollably through cracks and holes in the building fabric. It is not the same as ventilation which is regulated air flowing into a building. It is also called infiltration. 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

Heat loss within a building can be caused by air leakage. 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. The air hits the cooler surface in the inner parts of the wall. Water vapour condenses and gathers in these gaps. Eventually, it is absorbed and starts a myriad of defects. Wet wooden framing or sheathing can rot and break down, diminishing its strength.

The building becomes structurally damaged as time goes on.
Other damages that can occur are cold homes which make occupants uncomforta-ble, increase in heating bills to make the internal temperature warmer, and more carbon dioxide discharge since additional heat is required.

The best way to reduce the harmful effect of moisture is to efficiently control how air moves into and out of the building. An adequately installed air barrier reduces air leakage and condensation of water vapour on inner wall layers. Correct ventilation is important, whether it is passive or active, to remove water vapour, unwanted moisture odour and pollutants.


The Importance of Air Tightness Test

Air tightness is an important factor in a building’s energy efficiency and is part of government’s plan to battle environmental change by regulating the energy performance of buildings. Heating buildings involves burning fossil fuel which increases CO2 emissions and causes 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. The best advice is to “Construct tightly, ventilate properly”. The result of uncontrollable air moving into the building fabric could be health problems and costly repairs.

When Should an Air Tightness Test Be Done?

It is best practice to conduct at least two air tightness testing procedures, one early in the build and another at the end. The test results are part of SBEM and SAP calculations, therefore they influence the total energy ratings of new buildings. 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. 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 Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing?

Numerous businesses and home owners have been aided by AF Acoustics air tightness testing proficient skills in Merton. Because of the following guarantees of working with us, we are highly endorsed by our clients.

Expert information and service

Our vast experience in serving a variety of clients in Merton guarantees we have the expertise to satisfy your needs regardless your unique circumstances, type or size of property. Our qualified air tightness testing professionals will work around your schedule, so they fit into your project seamlessly, providing a quality service as conveniently as possible. Our knowledgeable and dependable air testing experts will provide lasting solutions to your problem. Call AF Acoustics for your air tightness testing.

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

We are registered members of the ATTMA, a professional association dedicated to promoting technical excellence in air tightness testing and air leakage measurement applications. This means our expertise and quality of services are recognised by the leading air tightness testing body in the UK.

When to Call Us to Test Your Building

You can access our complete air tightness test in Merton at anytime. Simply fix a convenient time for your building’s air permeability test. We offer responsive scheduling. There won’t be delays or complications once you’ve fixed a time.

You Could Get Your Certificates on the Next Day

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.

Competitive Charges

AF Acoustics, a small business with low overheads, offers one of the best prices in Merton 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 Merton

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

Air leakage testing is required by Approved Document L1A and L2A. 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. With air leakage comes heat loss, greater CO2 discharge, draughts, thermal bypassing and wind washing and poor energy performance. Warm air within a heated building rises and lowers the pressure at the building’s base to draw in air through the openings in the building fabric, leading to exfiltration or infiltration. To limit exfiltration and infiltration, the law requires that domestic buildings take air leakage tests. The buildings must be energy efficient and signed off by building control in Merton. For your commercial building, air tightness testing will ensure your staff and clients are in a comfortable environment. The company also gets reduced heating and cooling costs and higher productivity rates.

Part L Test

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. The air-tightness of a building is known as its ‘air permeability’ or leakage rate. Air leaks through gaps and spaces in the building fabric such as service penetrations, walls and roof junctions. Sometimes, this is not obvious to occupants. 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. Air leakage is vital to a building’s energy efficiency and is needed to meet Building Regulations Part L and carbon emission standards.

Part F Test

We can provide you all that you need to serve all your Part L and Part F requirements. We deliver quality air permeability and extract fan flow rate testing, and also recommend skilled experts who will handle your water calculations, SAP calculations and Energy Performance Certificates.
Approved Document F of the Building Regulations requires that all mechanical extract fans in new dwellings be subjected to a flow rate test. Your building won’t be signed off until Building Control Body (BCB) has been presented the results of the test. There are three alternative methods which can be followed to test, record and report the testing of extractor fans. We use a vane anemometer, which is the third method called the minimum benchmark method, to conduct extract fan flow rate tests.


The types of Air Tightness Testing Services We Offer

There are several levels of air leakage testing based on the kind, size and multifaceted aspects of a dwelling. Here they are: 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 2: Air pressure testing for simple and complex buildings larger than 4000 m³ gross envelope volume which does not include large and complex, high rise (LCHR) buildings, and phased handover/zonal buildings. Level 3: Air Pressure Testing for LCHR buildings, phased and zonal handover buildings is carried out.

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

The measurement of air emitted by a building is tested to determine air permeability rating. The result of the air leakage test is expressed as a quantity of air leakage (mm3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L1A. A lower air permeability rate might be needed due to carbon emission requirements. The design-stage SAP assessment SBEM of a construction records its required air permeability rate. An excessive amount of air leakage results in greater energy expenses, heat reduction and carbon dioxide emissions.

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

Air tightness testing determines the extent of air leaking from a building’s envelope. The result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Air pressure testing is compulsory, according to Approved Document L2A. Each building tested must achieve a maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2. The SAP or SBEM assessment for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and draught.

Air Permeability Testing of Smoke Shafts (for automatic opening vents)

To ensure that the auto opening vent will perform optimally when fitted and commissioned, we test the smoke shaft to verify its air tightness. Automatic opening vents help storey buildings dispel smoke when there is a fire. For it to expel smoke from a building and keep the occupants safe during emergencies, the shaft must be air tight enough to create substantial pressure difference. With the right air permeability rate, the vents can operate at their best. We aim for the air permeability rate set by the vent manufacturers. Fans are placed in the smoke shaft to conduct an air tightness test. The openings for ventilation grilles and extract points on each floor are closed so that the state of the shaft itself is known. The fixing and commissioning of the auto opening vents happen after the test is completed.

Measurement of Air Flow of Domestic Ventilation

The requirement to build more highly insulated and air tight buildings means that it is increasingly more important to ensure buildings are not only adequately ventilated but the ventilation system is suitable and commissioned correctly to ensure its effective operation. We evaluate extraction rates. A building must have an optimal ventilation system to dispel humidity from bathrooms, kitchens and other rooms and extract odours and pollutants. We can also help you meet the Building Regulations targets. 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.

Specific Test and Building Preparation Procedure

When a building is checked for the quantity of air flowing through the gaps in the fabric, it has undergone an air tightness test. The air tightness of a building improves its energy efficiency and internal environment.

Holes and spaces in a building’s fabric might be hidden by the internal building finishes, making them hard to find. The most acceptable approach to show that a building fabric is impermeable is to identify leakage paths within it.

Under the new policies of building developments, the lowest number of domestic buildings developers have to test in an area is 20%. However, this depends on the quantity of different house kinds to ensure there is a regular sample throughout the survey. We advise that all buildings undergo air pressure testing as there is a penalty for those that don’t.

Requirements before the Test

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:

  • Seal and turn off all ventilation, smoke vents and mechanical ventilation systems
  • Close the windows and open internal doors
  • Fill drainage traps
  • Switch off range stoves/cookers 24 hours before the test

Calculating the Building Envelope

We undertake building envelope measurements before getting to the dwelling for the test. The building envelope is the surface area of the thermal boundary of the building. The measurement is obtained from the construction drawings, and put in our calculations to conduct the test.

Air Barrier Envelope Area

Air permeability is calculated at air leakage rate per square metre of envelope area. In relation to air permeability, the air envelope area is the total area of the measured part of the building without subtracting from the area of the junction of internal walls, or floors and ceilings. The envelope area of a terraced house includes the party walls while that of a flat in a multi-storey building includes shared ceilings, walls and floors.

Air Exchange Rate

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 Envelope Area Measurement

It is important to make sure the roof area and ground floor area of a building are equal. A cold roof is a roof that has the thermal insulation put in the ceiling with wide space between the insulation and pitched roof rafters.

Evaluating a Warm Roof Envelope Area

A warm roof has the insulation running along the pitched roof rafters with an air barrier normally running parallel along the inside face of the insulation. In the warm part of the insulation, is the barrier between the conditioned and unconditioned space.

Building Preparation

  • Open and secure all internal doors;
  • Close all windows;
  • Switch off all mechanical ventilation systems;
  • Seal vents;
  • Close smoke vents;
  • Fill all drainage traps; check weather conditions (wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure);

How the Test Is Done

Check all weather conditions such as temperature, wind speed and barometric pressure. Connect a fan (or fans) to an aperture in the building envelope (e.g. door). Set up testing equipment. Note the air flow volume from the fan. This is the same as the air leakage from the building envelope. Slowly raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to 55-60Pa. The pressure differences in the building at each fan speed should be calculated.

Calculating 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 Leakage Testing and Compliance

Making sure your building is air tight and has adequate ventilation, be it natural, mechanical, or a combination of the two, will aid your comfort. Find below the benefits: The occupants will pay less for heat because less heat is lost and they won’t need equipment with high heating capacities. The ventilation system will operate optimally Your building will have less mould since moisture cannot escape into holes and cavities. Thermal comfort is enhanced because air infiltration is lower. 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. We provide air tightness testing, consultancy, design reviews and support services on all buildings, both dwellings and non-dwellings in Merton. We also provide cost-effective, local service that complies with all relevant Building Standards.


Best Practice Processes

Any new building has to be air tight. The 2010 Approved Document L1A of Building Regulations has made it compulsory. Reduced power usage and fuel conservation are important; that’s why the rule was put in place. Part L1A states that new dwellings should be tested for air tightness in accordance with existing regulations.

Measuring Air Permeability on Building Envelopes (Dwellings) – To Technical Standard L1

The Air Tightness Testing & Measurement Association (ATTMA) provides the technical standard to be followed for the testing of dwellings in the UK as set out in Building Regulations and other documents. The technical standards ensure that all companies have similar testing procedures. They are:

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

England and Wales: Building Regulation Targets Part L 2010

If you’re constructing a new dwelling, you have to comply with Approved Document L1A’s stipulation to test it. For development with two or more buildings, three units of each dwelling type or 50% of the dwelling type should be tested. If there are no more than two new dwellings, using an assumed value of 15m3/h/m2 in the DET/TER calculations might exempt them from air tightness testing. Your SAP assessor will let you know if you can do this for your building. The method for testing required by the building regulations is stated in ATTMA TSL1 (for dwellings) and ATTMA TSL2 (for non-dwellings). Non-Dwellings and residential buildings are required to test for air leakage. Non-dwellings with a typical floor area less than 500m2 may be exempt. Where testing is not carried out, an assessed air permeability of 15 m3/h/m2 must be used in calculations.

Building Regulation Requirements Part L (England and Wales)

Most competent air pressure testing companies go through the ATTMA scheme, which began in January 2015, etence. The scheme is endorsed by the government and recognised by approved documents L1 and L2 of building regulations. It mirrors the operation standards and skill requirements set by the National Occupation Standard (NOS) and the Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) document.

Testers can be divided into three types

  • Level 1: Testers can test dwellings and non-dwellings up to 4000m3 gross envelope volume when tested as a single entity, with a single fan.
  • 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. First, extraction fans are closed. Then, the details and results of the tests are written down in a report. The report is in line with the company’s testing process set by government regulations and all relevant governing bodies.

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. We make sure our report has the name of the building, customer, address and tester. We will state if your building has passed or failed the test and give advice on the actions you need to take if another test is needed.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

Before our test engineers arrive at the site, please adhere to what is written below and send the required air tightness target of your dwelling that is in the design to us.

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.