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

The measurement of air escaping from a building is called air tightness testing. It is also referred to as air permeability testing or air pressure testing. In 2006, Approved Document L was reviewed and building regulations for air permeability became more stringent. The test is presently a requirement for new buildings and reconstructions.

The energy performance of a building can be affected by air leakage. To address this problem, alterations to building regulations have been made. 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. We are a dedicated and approved air leakage testing service in Mitcham and we can provide air permeability measurement whenever you require. We also provide Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing, assessments and consultancy services.

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 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. We deliver professional value for money service to the highest standards.

Our Guarantee

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

What is the Assessment of a Building’s Air Tightness?

When a building is assessed during an air tightness test; the internal thermal envelope of the building is examined for leakages and the quantity of air passing through it. Other names for air tightness testing are air leakage testing and air pressure testing. While the normal restrained movement of air all through a building is called ventilation, the unchecked movement of air through cracks and gaps in a building is air leakage; also known as draught or infiltration. Air tightness testing is done to calculate the total quantity of air that escapes through cracks in the building. Such air leakage is called uncontrolled ventilation (draughts). Too much air leakage leads to unnecessary heat loss and discomfort for the occupants. 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.

Building plans will often consider air tightness at the beginning stages of development so as to measure up to stricter building standards. This can make a building more energy efficient since air leakage is under control. It will also be cost effective and of high quality.

Air Leakage Explained

Air leakage is uncontrolled air movement in a building due to cracks. Air leakage is the uncontrolled movement of air into and out of a building through gaps and spaces in the building’s fabric. It is also referred to as infiltration and is the opposite of ventilation which involves well managed circulation of air in a building. As air leakage is uncontrolled, too much air may enter the house during cold or windy weather, leading to excessive heat loss and uncomfortable 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. In England and Wales, air tightness testing has been obligatory since 2006. All new dwellings and non-dwellings over 500m² are to be tested for air permeability.

What Is the Impact of Air Leakage?

Air leakage causes heat loss. During windy weather, cold air infiltrates a building through the openings in its fabric. This results in heat loss. Movement of moist air into cavities in other parts of the building also occur. This process is called exfiltration. When moist air hits a cooler surface within a wall structure, water vapour in the air can condense and collect inside these spaces. Moisture can then be absorbed in building materials and cause serious defects. The strength of the outer wooden covering is drastically reduced because it is wet.

Over the years, these problems can damage the building’s structure.
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. The potential of vulnerable wall structures to absorb condensed moisture is reduced when air barriers are properly installed and uncontrolled air flow is reduced. Proper ventilation, whether active or passive, is critical in expelling undesirable damp scents, water vapour and polluting substances.


Why Must We Do an Air Tightness Test?

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. Heating buildings involves burning fossil fuel which increases CO2 emissions and causes global warming. The best way to reduce the quantity of fossil fuel burnt is by stopping air leakage which reduces heat loss. Poor degrees of ventilation and high levels of uncontrolled air leakage encourage mould growth and excessive moisture. This could potentially cause medical issues. The best advice is to “Construct tightly, ventilate properly”. Excess air leakage leads to moisture in the building envelope, causing large repair expenses and medical issues because of mould.

When Should an Air Tightness Test Be Done?

Best practice says that air tightness tests should be carried out early in construction and after the final phase. The results of the test are used in SAP and SBEM calculations, and can influence a building’s overall energy rating. Larger residential developments do not require testing to be completed on each individual property, instead, testing is undertaken on the different dwelling types within the development. Once every building in the residential development is not tested, the expected test result would have to be lowered by 2m3/h/m2. If 5m3/h/m2 was your target score, you must achieve 3m3/h/m2.

If your building has not been pressure tested, its assessed air permeability would be the average score of buildings like yours in the area +2m3/h/m2 at 50 Pa. This type of testing does not reveal the exact air tightness of each residence and is therefore not advisable. Moreover, the penalty implemented on untested buildings makes the required air permeability rate difficult to attain.

Why AF Acoustics Is the Right Choice for Your Air Tightness Testing

With AF Acoustics, homes and businesses in Mitcham have been getting quality air tightness testing. Our clients highly recommend us for the following reasons.

Expert information and service

Our vast experience in serving a variety of clients in Mitcham 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. Our personnel will use their expertise to provide lasting solutions. Contact AF Acoustics in Mitcham –the right team for your building.

Registered Members of the Leading Air Tightness Body in the UK

We are registered members of the Air Tightness and Measurement Association (ATTMA). ATTMA encourages proper air leakage applications and promotes quality air tightness screening, and has recognised our impeccable professional services.

When to Call Us to Test Your Building

We want to provide detailed air permeability testing in Mitcham for you whenever you need it. 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.

Next-day Turnaround for Certificates

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

Affordable Prices

AF Acoustics fees are lower since we’re a company with low overheads. Our services are professional and we offer affordable prices in Mitcham.

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

We Conduct Tests for All Types of Buildings in Mitcham

Regardless of the size, type, or complexity of your domestic or commercial building in Mitcham, we can provide you with air tightness testing, carried out by an experienced and professional air tightness tester and issue you a certified ATTMA certificate. You can find out how much uncontrolled ventilation your building has by testing it for air leakages. The test results are described as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre..

Approved Document L1A and L2A demands that buildings take tests for air leaks. 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. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and discomfort. It can also create convective loops within a building; this is often referred to as thermal bypassing and wind washing. 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 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 Mitcham. For commercial constructions, air pressure tests result in a better environment for workers and customers. This increases the company’s productivity and lowers heating and cooling expenses.

A Description of Part L Test

Since Approved Document L was reviewed in 2006, building regulations have demanded that new and rehabilitated constructions conduct air tightness test. Air tightness is also called air leakage rate or ‘air permeability’ 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. It is compulsory for all commercial buildings with a gross area greater than 500m2 and a representative selection of domestic buildings to undergo air pressure test, as stipulated by Part L of the Building Regulations. To adhere to Part L, make sure your building’s air permeability rate is not greater than 10m3/h/m2. 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

All your Part L and Part F testing requirements can be met by us. 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.
Approved Document F of the Building Regulations requires that all mechanical extract fans in new dwellings be subjected to a flow rate test. Building Control Body (BCB) will see proof that the test has been conducted before signing off your building. Extractor fans can be tested and recorded, and test reports submitted using 3 methods. AF Acoustics test process is the third method. It uses a vane anemometer and is called the minimum benchmark method.


Forms of Air Pressure Testing Services We Provide

There are several levels of air leakage testing based on the kind, size and multifaceted aspects of a dwelling. Here they are: Level One: Testing for the air pressure of single buildings and smaller non-dwellings of 4000m3 gross envelope volume and below, a single blower door fan is used. Air tightness testing for dwellings more than 4000m3, except big phased handover/zonal and high rise (LCHR) constructions is done. Third Level – Testing is done for large high rise and phased handover buildings.

Domestic Buildings Testing as Required by Approved Document L1

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 pressure testing is compulsory, according to Approved Document L1A. Your building may need a lower rate to meet the CO2 discharge target. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. 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

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 air leakage test result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building. Air tightness testing is required by Building Regulations. 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. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and draught.

Testing the Smoke Shaft of Automatic Opening Vents

We undertake smoke shaft integrity testing to confirm that the shaft is sufficiently air tight in order to allow the automatic opening ventilation to perform as required when it is fitted and commissioned. 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 work towards air permeability targets set by the automatic-opening ventilation manufacturers that allow their equipment to operate effectively. An air pressure test is taken for the smoke shaft by installing a fan inside. The usual openings are closed off too so that the shaft’s integrity can be determined. This test is conducted before the automatic opening ventilation is fixed and commissioned.

Domestic Ventilation Air Flow Testing (Extract Fans)

The requirement for air tight buildings that are properly insulated has brought about the need for ventilation systems that are adequately installed and function at an optimal level. We test fan extraction rates. This is done to meet the Building Regulations standard. Make sure the ventilation system is efficient, expels pollutants and odours, and reduces humidity, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. 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.

Particular Test and Building Readiness Operation

An air tightness test measures the extent of air leakage in a building. When air leakage is reduced in a building, the occupants will not experience discomfort and the energy performance will increase.

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

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. There is a penalty for untested constructions. Therefore, we suggest air leakage tests for all buildings.

Pre-Test Requirements

Send the drawings of your dwelling (plans and elevations) and its target air permeability requirements to our test engineers. We would like to know the requirements and the building envelope’s size prior to testing. The tests take 30 – 60 minutes, and wind speed does not surpass 6m/s. In preparing the site to create an air-tight environment:

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

Measuring the Building’s Envelope

We undertake building envelope measurements before getting to the dwelling for the test. A building envelope is the boundary between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building. The calculations, which are extracted from the drawings, are fed into our estimations when testing your building for air leaks.

Air Permeability of 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 Changes Per Hour

Air change rates are often used as rules of thumb in ventilation design but they are seldom used as the actual basis of design or a calculation. The number of inhabitants and area of residence are used in measuring residential ventilation rates.

Cold Roof Construction Envelope Area Calculation

The area of the roof and ground floor should be the same. A cold roof has its insulation at the ceiling level, with space between the insulation and rafters.

Calculating the Envelope Area of a Warm Roof

A warm roof is a roof where the insulation is installed on top of the roof structure. The envelope area is the barrier between the conditioned space in the insulation and the unconditioned space outside.

Getting the Building Ready

  • Temporarily seal and switch off all ventilation grids, smoke vents and mechanical ventilation systems
  • Close the windows and internal doors
  • Seal drainage traps.

Site Test Procedure

Evaluate the weather (barometric pressure, wind speed and temperature) Fix a fan to an aperture, usually the door, in the building. Set up the testing gear. Record the air volume flow through the fan (this equals the air leaking through 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.

Measuring air leakage

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

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: Your heating expenses are less because heat doesn’t escape through a permeable building, and you won’t require appliances with more heating capability. A functional ventilation system Reduced chance of mould and rot, as moisture is less likely to become trapped Fewer draughts, causing more comfort From the smallest to biggest building or development, we adhere to Building Regulations Part L and Building Standards. Our services include: air pressure testing, support services, re-examining designs and consultancy for all buildings in Mitcham. We are cost effective and adhere to all building regulations.


Best Practice Processes

All new buildings, residential or commercial, must be air tight, according to Approved Document Part L1A of Building Regulations (2010). The regulation helps to reduce the use of fuel and power. Part L1A has demanded that all new dwellings be tested for air leaks in line with other regulations.

Air Tightness Testing of Dwellings That Meet Technical Standard L1L1

ATTMA has specified technical standards that must be adhered to while testing buildings in the UK, according to building regulations and other documents. The technical standards give details regarding the following: 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”. That way, testing companies use the same 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’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. Find out from your SAP assessor if this is applicable to you. The required process for testing buildings for air tightness has been declared in ATTMA TSL1 for occupied buildings and ATTMA TSL2 for unoccupied ones. Non-Dwellings and residential buildings are required to test for air leakage. Non-dwellings where floor area is less than 500 m2 or has an assumed assessed air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 in their calculations, may not have to undergo the air leakage test.

Building Regulations for England and Wales, Part L

ATTMA has a scheme for air leakage test organisations, which commenced in January 2015. The scheme was approved by the government and is stated in Technical Standard L1 and L2. Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) and National Occupation Standard (NOS) documents are the basis for the scheme.

Testers can be divided into three types

  • 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.
  • Second Level – Testing is done in buildings with 4000m3 and higher. Large high rise and phased handover buildings are excluded from the test except a level three tester is in charge.
  • Third Level – These experts carry out air tightness testing in large and complex high rise and phased handover buildings.

Report on Test for Air Permeability

Air tightness reports are issued by accredited firms that carry out air permeability tests on buildings of different sizes or complexities. Extraction fans will be sealed temporarily; the results of the test are recorded in a short report. This is done according to the testing organisation’s procedures and Building Regulation standards.

Outcome of Air Leak Test

Our test and subsequent results are conducted and written to meet standard requirements, highlight any deviation from the standards and crosscheck air pressure values against target values. Our reports correctly note the client, air tightness tester, building and address. Where applicable, we will identify pass or failure of your building and provide recommendations for any remedial action or improvement to the building if any further testing is required.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Dwelling

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

Air Leakage Pathway Checklist – Check will be done for visible leaks in the following places:

  • Windows: Check the seal beneath the sills and around the frames.
  • Doors: Check the seal around all external door surrounds (especially French doors).
  • Drainage traps: Check if they are filled with water.
  • Skirting and coving: Check above and below all skirting and coving, sealing where necessary.
  • Metre Boxes: Check all external supplies are sealed appropriately.
  • Light Fittings: Check the seal around all light fittings and switches.
  • Radiators / Fans / Heaters: Check the seal around all pipes and wires.
  • Boilers: Check the seal around the boiler supply and flue.
  • Extractor Fans: Check around the edge of the extracts, only the front of the grill can be sealed.
  • Cooker Hoods: Check the seals around all penetrations.
  • Soil pipes: Check the seal around all soil pipes and sink waste pipes especially those boxed in or behind kitchen cabinets.
  • Bath Panels: Check if all pipes behind bath panels are sealed properly.
  • Hot water tank: Check the seal around all supply pipes.
  • MVHR: Check seal around all terminals.
  • Chimneys: Open fireplaces must be sealed prior to our arrival.
  • Tumble drier extracts: Check the seal around the extract.
  • Junction between floor and wall under kitchens and baths

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

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

Air Tightness Testing FAQ’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The common leakage sites are:

All pipe works within the kitchen and bathrooms

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

Our team of experts can support you through the following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. Air tightness testing applies to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gerard Finn

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