ATTMA Licensed Air Tightness Testing in North-Cheam

Air tightness testing, otherwise called air pressure testing or air leakage testing, is the measurement of the outflow of air from a building’s fabric. Air tightness testing became an integral part of building regulations for new buildings, commercial developments and revamped buildings in 2006 after Document L was reviewed.

Revisions were made to building regulations to address air leakages – a process where air escapes through any opening in the building, affecting its energy efficiency. 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. As a certified air leakage testing company in North-Cheam, we are ready to provide testing services whenever you want. You can also call or email us for any of these services:

  • Assessments
  • Consultancy
  • Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing.

As registered members of the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association, our air leakage test certificate is accepted as evidence for Building Regulations sign-off. We 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

Air Tightness Testing – What It Means

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. Air leakage and air pressure are also used in place of air tightness. Air leakage, also known as infiltration or draught, allows air to pass through unwanted leaks in a building; unlike ventilation where the air inside and outside of a building and its flow from one end to the other is controlled. Air tightness testing evaluates the complete air leakage a building has in every gap available. The air leakage is known as uncontrolled ventilation. Once too much air escapes, heat reduction occurs, causing the temperature of the building to drop to a level that isn’t comfortable for those residing in it. 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. Calculating the emission of air from a building’s fabric, establishes the energy efficiency of the building. The building regulations have made air tightness part of the building’s design from the beginning of the construction. This ensures that the fabric of a building is air tight. A building that is air tight A building that is air tight is more economical and ensures less drafts ALS energy efficient.

What Air Leakage Is

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 called infiltration, it differs from ventilation which is the regular, planned and restrained flow of air into a building. 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. 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.

The Impact of Air Leakage

Air leakage causes heat loss. 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. 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 the years, these problems can damage the building’s structure.
The inhabitants become uncomfortable because of chilly homes, heating expenses increase and more CO2 is emitted due to the additional heat 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 is an Air Tightness Test Important?

Air tightness is an important factor in a building’s energy efficiency and is part of government’s plan to battle environmental change by regulating the energy performance of buildings. Environmental change caused by carbon dioxide emissions and global warming is partly aided by the burning of fossil fuels to generate heat. When air leakage is controlled, heat loss and energy used by the heating system are reduced. Uncontrolled air leakage also results in health problems. Coupled with poor air circulation, it leads to the growth of mould and mildew. Best practice advice is to “Build tight, ventilate right”. Excess air leakage leads to moisture in the building envelope, causing large repair expenses and medical issues because of mould.

Recommended Period for Air Tightness Test

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. With selective testing, you get a penalty of +2m3/h/m2. Houses that have a target score of 5m3/h/m2 must get a lower score of 3.

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. 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.

The reasons Why You Should 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 North-Cheam. Our clients highly recommend us for the following reasons.

Expert information and service

Our vast experience in serving a variety of clients in North-Cheam 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. If you need knowledgeable and trustworthy air leakage experts who can provide exemplary results, AF Acoustics is the team you need in North-Cheam.

Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA) Registered

We are registered with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), an organisation that is centred on technical excellence in all air leakage measurement methods. ATTMA, the leading air leakage testing body in the UK, has recognised the quality of our services.

When to Call Us to Test Your Building

You can access our complete air tightness test in North-Cheam at anytime. We offer responsive scheduling options. You can schedule for air tightness testing at your convenience. We guarantee no delays or complications regarding scheduling.

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.

Competitive Charges

AF Acoustics, a small business with low overheads, offers one of the best prices in North-Cheam and guarantees professional services.

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

Air Permeability Testing for Different Kinds of Commercial and Domestic Dwellings in North-Cheam

Whatever the type and size of a domestic or commercial building in North-Cheam, AF Acoustics’ experts can test it for air permeability and issue an ATTMA certificate afterwards. 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.

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. Several problems are caused by uncontrolled ventilation. They are:

  • Infiltration of cold air
  • Wind washing and thermal bypassing, which is when air moves through the inner building of a building fabric to create convective loops inside the walls, making the building less energy efficient
  • Reduction in heat and CO2 emission.

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. 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 North-Cheam. Clients and employees will be at ease in their surroundings. The company also gets reduced heating and cooling costs and higher productivity rates.

Part L Test

Since Approved Document L was reviewed in 2006, building regulations have demanded that new and rehabilitated constructions conduct air tightness test. Other names for air tightness are air permeability rate or leakage rate. Air leakage can occur through gaps, holes and cracks in the fabric of the building envelope (service penetrations, wall/roof junctions, etc), which are not always visible. Part L of the Building Regulations requires that all commercial buildings greater than 500m2 undergo air tightness testing and a selection of residential buildings in a development be tested. Part L has also set a maximum air permeability target rate of 10m3/h/m2, but a building usually needs lower levels. Air permeability is key in the following areas: i. A construction’s energy performance, ii. CO2 emission targets iii. Building Regulations Part L standards

A Description of Part F Test

We will ensure that you exceed all the Parts L and F standards. With our organisation, you receive:

  • Expert fan flow rate testing
  • Experienced air pressure testing
  • Professionals who provide Energy Performance Certificate, water and SAP 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. You can test, document and report the test of your building’s extractor fans in three ways. Use method 3 – the minimum benchmark method, which tests extractor fans with vane anemometers. This is our testing procedure.


Different Ways We Test for Air Permeability

The size, type and multifaceted parts of a building determine the level of air pressure testing it will receive. There are 3 levels and they are listed below. First Level – For building 1m3-4000m3, single and smaller non-dwellings, a single blower door fan is used to carry out the test. 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

The measurement of air emitted by a building is tested to determine air permeability rating. The result is written as m3 per hour per square metre of building. Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L1A. A building has to achieve a lower rate to meet the carbon dioxide emission target. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Uncontrolled ventilation can cause several problems. They are: infiltration of cold air, reduction in heat, more CO2 emission and higher energy costs.

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

Air leakage testing is the measurement of uncontrolled ventilation from a building’s fabric. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of air pressure (m3 per hour) per square metre of building fabric. Document L2A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. Each building tested must achieve a maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2. A building will usually have to achieve a lower rate to meet the SAP or SBEM assessment. The air permeability target can be found in a building’s 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 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. Smoke needs to be cleared out in the event of a fire. The automatic opening ventilation is a vital aspect of the fire strategy for high rise buildings. 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. 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 intended openings of the shaft (i.e. extract point and openings for ventilation grilles on each floor) are sealed off for the test so that the integrity of the shaft itself can be determined. This test is conducted before the automatic opening ventilation is fixed and commissioned.

We Offer Extraction Fan Testing

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 have the capacity to test 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. Another of such targets, as stated by Part F, is to have the standard intermittent extractor fans, like kitchen and bathroom extractors, in new constructions measured for air flow and results given to Building Control before the construction work is completed.

Air Tightness Test and Building Preparation Method

Air tightness tests calculate the level of air leakage a building has and if it is excessive. Improving the air tightness of a building not only enhances the comfort of the occupants, but can also increases the building’s energy efficiency.

Causes of excess air leakage are often hard to detect. These openings might not be seen because of the internal finishes that have been fixed. The only satisfactory way to show that a building fabric is airtight is to detect and measure leakage paths within the building fabric.

At least 20% of different kinds of dwellings in a development have to be tested, according to new regulations; but the reliability of the sample from this type of testing is determined by the types of buildings in the development. Buildings that don’t undergo the test are penalised. All dwellings in a development should be tested to ensure optimum air tightness.

Pre-Test Requirements

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. In preparing the site to create an air-tight environment:

  • 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)

Measuring the Building’s Envelope

We conduct building envelope calculations prior to the test. The building envelope is the surface area of the structural barrier of a building. It separates the interior from the exterior part of the dwelling The measurement is obtained from the construction drawings, and put in our calculations to conduct the test.

Envelope Area Air Permeability

Air permeability, according to Approved Document L1A (2010), has to do with “air leakage rate per hour per square metre of envelope area at the test reference pressure differential of 50 pascals (50n/m2)”. The building’s envelope area has to do with the total area of all the floors, walls, and ceilings bordering the internal environment, including those below external ground level. These include shared walls, floors and ceilings in storey buildings. Internal dimensions are used to measure the envelope area.

Air Exchange Rate

Air exchange rate is vital to ventilation design but it isn’t used as the determinant of the actual design or calculation. Residential ventilation rates are measured based on the number of inhabitants and area of residence.

Cold Roof Envelope Area Measurement

The area of the roof and ground floor should be the same. A cold roof is the kind of roof where the insulation is fixed in the ceiling joists with space between the insulation and roof rafters.

Warm Roof Construction Envelope Area Calculation

In a warm roof, the main insulation is placed below the roof covering. 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.

Building readiness

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

Building Test Method

Evaluate the weather (barometric pressure, wind speed and temperature) Connect a fan to an aperture within the construction envelope. For example, the door. Fix the instrument for testing. Record the air volume flow through the fan (this equals the air leaking through the building envelope). Raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to the highest speed of 55-60Pa. At each fan speed, note the differences in air pressure in all the parts of the building.

Measuring air leakage

We analyse the recorded air tightness test data and present the results to the client in a technical report. In the event of test failure, we advise the client on appropriate mitigation measures. Our expert knowledge will help in highlighting the areas of air leakage. Air Tightness Testing and Compliance

An airtight building has several positive impacts when combined with an appropriate ventilation system (whether natural, mechanical, or hybrid): The occupants will pay less for heat because less heat is lost and they won’t need equipment with high heating capacities. Your ventilation system will operate in a better way Reduced chance of mould and rot, as moisture is less likely to become trapped You won’t experience much discomfort because there will be fewer draughts. Be assured that you’ll get a test that meets all the regulations and standards no matter how big or small your building is. We render cost-effective services that include air leakage tests, design reappraisal, consultancy and support services for dwellings and non-dwellings in North-Cheam.


Good and Best Practice Styles

The Building Regulations approved document Part L1A 2010 specifies that any new dwellings must be airtight. This regulation was put in place to conserve fuel and power. Part L1A has demanded that all new dwellings be tested for air leaks in line with other regulations.

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

Certain technical standards are to be employed during air pressure test in the UK, as specified by ATTMA, 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

Building Regulation Requirements Part L 2010 (England and Wales)

If you are constructing a dwelling the Approved Document L1A states that you must perform an air pressure test. For development with two or more buildings, three units of each dwelling type or 50% of the dwelling type should be tested. Where there are only one or two new buildings, add an assumed value of 15m3/h/m2 to the DET/TER measurements; an air tightness test may not need to be carried out. Your SAP assessor will let you know if you can do this for your building. A testing procedure required by Building Regulations is expressed 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 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.

Part L Building Regulations Standards for England and Wales

ATTMA has a competent scheme for air leakage testing firms which determines their level of competence. The scheme, which was launched in January 2015, is recognised by the government and noted in the building regulations. Its basis is the National Occupation Standard (NOS) and Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) documents standard for testing and essentials for testing knowledge.

Air tightness testers can be divided into three categories

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Level 3: These are air tightness experts who can cover large, complex and or high-rise buildings and or phased handover or zonal compartmentalisation.

Air Pressure Test

Air tightness reports are issued by accredited firms that carry out air permeability tests on buildings of different sizes or complexities. The testing companies seal extraction fans. After the test has been completed, they record test findings and results in a report. The organisation makes sure the report meets the company and government’s requirements.

Results of the Test

AF Acoustics guarantees the test outcome is written in line with standard requirements; it picks out any deviations from the significant benchmarks inside the report and checks air permeability against target values. We make sure our report has the name of the building, customer, address and tester. 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 – Building

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

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.