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

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. It has been a mandatory part of the building regulations for new build and refurbishment projects since Approved Document L was revised 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. We register our air tightness certificates with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), an organisation that encourages proper air leakage applications and promotes quality air tightness screening. We are dedicated and accredited air leakage testing service providers in Mortlake and we are available to provide you with testing services whenever required. 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 ATTMA, our air tightness certificates are accepted as proof of 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. Our goal is always value for money and customer satisfaction. We are professionals and our services are of the highest 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 is a method of measuring the extent to which air is lost through leaks in the building fabric. It can also be called air pressure testing or air leakage 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). When too much air leaks through a building’s fabric, heat loss occurs, making the occupants uncomfortable. Because the government is striving to scale back carbon dioxide discharge from new buildings, building rules now focuses on reducing air loss from the building envelope. This helps reduce CO2 emissions. Air tightness testing is vital in determining the energy efficiency of a new building, air leakage and the build quality. With the introduction of tougher regulations, building designs will often consider air tightness at the early stages of the construction process, ensuring attention to detail during construction to create an air-tight envelope. 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 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. Also known as infiltration, it is different from ventilation, which is air that enters a building in a controlled manner. 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. 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.

The Impact of Air Leakage

Air leakage leads to heat reduction. Once the atmosphere is cold and windy, unwanted chilly air infiltrates the building through gaps, leading to heat reduction. It doesn’t stop there. Warm, damp air within the building escapes the gaps in its envelope. When moist air hits a cooler surface within a wall structure, water vapour in the air can condense and collect inside these spaces. Moisture can then be absorbed in building materials and cause serious defects. Wooden sheathing or overlay becomes wet, making it weak.

Over time, any of these conditions can cause structural damage.
Other effects of air leakage are:

  • Discomfort; the environment is colder
  • Higher heat cost; a way of combating the cold, and
  • More CO2 emission because of the extra heat used.

These effects can be mitigated by controlling the circulation of air into and out of the building. Adequately installed air barriers minimise air leaks and the probability of vapour condensing and diffusing into the building’s structure. Correct ventilation is important, whether it is passive or active, to remove water vapour, unwanted moisture odour and pollutants.


Why Should 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 contribute to global warming and CO2 emissions, since fossil fuels are used to create heat. The reduction of air leakage leads to lower heat loss and quantity of heat generated in a building. Individuals living in buildings with high levels of air leakage may have medical problems. Houses. Low ventilation and uncontrolled air leaks result in mould growth and moisture which can cause potential health issues. A great option would be to build tight and 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 Your Building Needs an Air Tightness Test

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 used in SAP and SBEM calculations, this impacts the energy rating of new building. 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.

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. It’s better to test each property because selective testing does not give a realistic picture of individual buildings. Besides, air permeability rates are difficult to achieve for untested buildings in such areas due to the +2m3/h/m2 penalty.

Why You Should Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing

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

Great service and expertise

Our experience in serving diverse customers in Mortlake is proof of our ability to satisfy your requirements no matter the size and type of building, or your circumstance. We’ll work with you to carry out our tests and consultations at times that are convenient to you, delivering an exceptional quality, convenient service. Do you need trustworthy professionals who will provide great results in Mortlake? Contact AF Acoustics today.

Registered member of the Air Tightness Testing & Measurement Association (ATTMA)

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.

Scheduling Your Air Tightness Testing

We want to provide detailed air permeability testing in Mortlake for you whenever you need it. We offer responsive scheduling options. You can schedule for air tightness testing at your convenience. There won’t be delays or complications once you’ve fixed a time.

Next-day Turnaround for Certificates

AF Acoustics offers trustworthy and expert services. We know that clients want to receive their test results quickly. As a result, we endeavour to deliver test certificates by the next day.

Affordable Fees

Save money by paying lower rates at AF Acoustics. As a business with low overheads, we’re able to give you one of the best air leakages testing services in Mortlake at reduced costs.

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 Mortlake

Whatever the type and size of a domestic or commercial building in Mortlake, AF Acoustics’ experts can test it for air permeability and issue an ATTMA certificate afterwards. 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 result is expressed as a quantity in the form of The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. of building fabric.

Air leakage testing is a requirement of 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. 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. Infiltration/exfiltration is the effect of air pressure difference. Warm air rises while cold air falls. The warm air within a building rises and air pressure at the base falls; this results in air coming in through doors, windows and leakage points. Air tightness testing is required by law for domestic buildings to ensure energy efficiency and comfort within the home environment. It is also a legal requirement that all new builds have an air tightness test carried out to meet energy efficiency standards before it can get signed off by building control in Mortlake. 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.

The Part L Test

Air tightness testing has been a mandatory part of the Building Regulations for new build and refurbishment projects since Approved Document L was revised in 2006. Other names for air tightness are air permeability rate or leakage rate. Air leakage can happen via holes and splits in the texture of the building envelope (divider/rooftop sections, service penetrations, etc), which may not be obvious. The Building Regulations (Part L) demand that a selected group of different kinds of residential constructions and all non-domestic buildings greater than 500m2 perform air leakage tests. The maximum air permeability rating allowed is 10m3/h/m2, but your building might need a lower rating ts. Air 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 Explained

We will ensure that you exceed all the Parts L and F standards. In addition to conducting your air pressure test and extract fan flow rate testing, we can put you in contact with professionals who provide SAP calculations, Energy Performance Certificates, and water calculations.
Approved Document F of the Building Regulations demands that all mechanical extract fans in newly completed constructions undergo a flow rate test. Evidence of this test must be passed to the Building Control Body (BCB) as part of their sign-off procedure. Examining, documenting and submitting reports of extract fans’ test can be done using three methods. AF Acoustics test process is the third method. It uses a vane anemometer and is called the minimum benchmark method.


Types of Air Leakage Testing Services We Offer

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

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

Air pressure testing, involves the calculation of air escaping through openings in a building. The result is written as m3 per hour per square metre of building. Air pressure testing is compulsory, according to Approved Document L1A. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. The required rate can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Uncontrolled ventilation can cause several problems. They are: infiltration of cold air, reduction in heat, more CO2 emission and higher energy costs.

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

The measurement of air emitted by a building is tested to ascertain air permeability rating. The result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Part L2A of Building Regulations has demanded that such tests be conducted. The test results have a limit; they shouldn’t be higher than 10m3/h/m2. In order to comply with the SAP assessment, it may be necessary to achieve a lower air permeability rate. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Excess air leakage causes heat loss, greater carbon dioxide discharge and influx of cold air.

Air Leakage Test of Smoke Shafts for Auto Vents

We provide smoke shaft tests to make sure it is air tight enough to let the automatic opening ventilation work optimally when it’s installed and commissioned. The automatic-opening vents are a key part of the fire strategy for multi-storey buildings to extract smoke in the case of 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. The shaft is tested for air permeability by using a fan that is fixed inside it. Once the fan is fixed, the extract points and ventilation grilles on each storey are sealed to ensure that the shaft is in proper condition. Once the test is completed and successful, the automatic opening vents are installed.

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

Air Tightness Test and Building Preparation Method

Air tightness test determines the level of air permeability in a building. When air leakage is reduced in a building, the occupants will not experience discomfort and the energy performance will increase.

It is difficult to notice unwanted openings in a building envelope. They might be blocked by the internal finishes. To ensure that the air tightness of a building is optimal, gaps and spaces in the building have to be found and measured.

With residential buildings in an area, new building regulations demand that a minimum of 20% be measured for air leakage. Consistent samples are determined by the quantity of the different types of houses present during the construction of the project. We advise that all buildings undergo air pressure testing as there is a penalty for those that don’t.

What You Need to Do Before Undertaking the Test

Send the drawings of your dwelling (plans and elevations) and its target air permeability requirements to our test engineers. 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:

  • Open and secure all internal doors;
  • Close all windows;
  • Switch off all mechanical ventilation systems;
  • Seal ventilation;
  • Close smoke vents;
  • Fill all drainage traps;
  • Switch off all range cookers/stoves 24 hours before testing (if applicable)

Calculating the Building Envelope

We conduct building envelope calculations prior to the test. The building envelope, is the physical barrier between the exterior and interior of a construction. The calculations are taken from the drawings. These are then incorporated into our calculations when we air test the property.

Air Permeability & The Envelope Area

Air permeability is measured as air leakage per hour per square metre of the building fabric at a pressure differential of 50 pascals (50n/m2). The air barrier envelope area is the total area of all the floors, walls and ceilings both above ground and underground. The internal dimensions of the building found in the drawings are used to calculate the envelope area and subtractions are not made from the areas of floors and ceilings with or without external walls or from the area of the junctions of internal walls.

Air Change Rate

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. To calculate ventilation rates for domestic buildings, the area and number of people living in the building are considered.

Evaluating a Cold Roof Envelope Area

The area of the roof and ground floor should be the same. 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.

Warm Roof Construction Envelope Area Calculation

A warm roof is a roof where the insulation is installed on top of the roof structure. The envelope area is the boundary between the internal environment and external environment (adjacent buildings), and can be found on the insulation’s warm part.

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.

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). Ensure all the testing equipment is ready. Calculate the air flow volume through the fan which equates to the air leakage. Gradually increase the fan speed from 20-25 Pa to a maximum of 55-60Pa. Note the difference in air pressure in several parts of 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. Air Tightness Testing and Compliance

The positive effects of an air tight building with efficient ventilation (natural, mechanical or a combination) cannot be underestimated. Here they are: The occupants will pay less for heat because less heat is lost and they won’t need equipment with high heating capacities. A functional ventilation system Lower levels of mould due to less moisture collecting in gaps and cavities. Infiltration of air is reduced and the inhabitants are more comfortable. Our air leakage tests are conducted according to building regulations and targets, whether we’re testing a small dwelling or big commercial development. They also ensure that you spend less money. Here are the services we provide:

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

Best Practice Procedures

When constructing a new building, it should be built air tight, as stated by Building Regulations – Approved Document L1A. 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.

Air Tightness Testing of Dwellings That Meet Technical Standard L1L1

The Air Tightness Testing & Measurement Association (ATTMA) provides the technical standard to be followed for the testing of dwellings in the UK as set out in Building Regulations and other documents. 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

Part L 2010 Building Regulation Standards for England and Wales

Undergoing an air tightness test is compulsory for your new building, according to Part L of Building Regulations. Where there are two or more new buildings in an area, conduct a test on 50% of all examples of a kind of dwelling or 3 units of a dwelling kind. 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. To find if your building falls into this category, contact your SAP assessor. The required process for testing buildings for air tightness has been declared in ATTMA TSL1 for occupied buildings and ATTMA TSL2 for unoccupied ones. Both residential areas and many non-Dwellings are to take the air leakage test. 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.

England and Wales: Building Regulations 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. The scheme echoes the conditions of the Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) and the National Occupation Standard (NOS) documents.

Air pressure testers have three levels

  • Level One: Testing for the air pressure of single buildings and smaller non-dwellings of 4000m3 gross envelope area and below, is done with a single 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.

Air Tightness Test Report

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

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. The identity of the customer, tester, building and address are correctly written in our report. Where it’s needed, we will identify if your building passed or failed the test and suggest ways to repair the building envelope before a retest is done.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

Send us your building design air permeability target and crosscheck the list below before we get to the site.

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

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

Here are the appliances you should seal temporarily;

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

Air Tightness Testing FAQ’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The common leakage sites are:

All pipe works within the kitchen and bathrooms

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

Our team of experts can support you through the following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. Air tightness testing applies to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.