North-Harrow Air Tightness Testing Certified by AF-Acoustics

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. 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.

Because air leakage is the process whereby air escapes through any crack or hole in the building envelope and influences its energy performance, building regulations have been modified to ensure a building has adequate air tightness. Our Air Tightness Testing certificates are registered with Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), a professional association dedicated to promoting technical excellence in all air tightness testing and air leakage measurement applications. We are a dedicated and approved air leakage testing service in North-Harrow and we can provide air permeability measurement whenever you require. 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 are professionals who take the time to explain the testing process, we are able to give informed advice on where problem areas may occur during testing, and how improvements can be made based on results of air pressure testing. Our services provide great value for money at high 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 Explained

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. Air leakage is the uncontrolled flow of air through gaps and cracks in the fabric (often referred to as infiltration or draughts) and not ventilation, which is the controlled flow of air in and out of the building. Air tightness testing evaluates the complete air leakage a building has in every gap available. The air leakage is known as uncontrolled ventilation. An excessive amount of uncontrolled air loss results in heat reduction, making the residents uncomfortable. As Government strives to reduce CO2 emissions from new buildings, building regulations now place greater emphasis on reducing air leakage from the building envelope. This reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Air tightness testing is important in establishing air leakage from a building’s fabric, the energy efficiency of a new building and in identifying poor build quality within new developments. Most building designs take air pressure into account at the beginning of construction in order to have an air-tight envelope and measure up to the required standards. A building that is air tight A building that is air tight is more economical and ensures less drafts ALS energy efficient.

Air Leakage

Air leakage occurs when air escapes through holes and gaps in a building. It is also referred to as infiltration and is the opposite of ventilation which involves well managed circulation of air in a building. Because of the nature of air leakage, excessive air infiltration might occur in a building when the weather is windy and chilly. This results in loss of warmth and an unpleasant cold draughts. Testing for air leakage plays a primary role in determining the energy efficiency of a building. It is an important procedure that measures the air tightness level to ensure that the regulatory standards have been attained and the building’s energy calculations have been properly accomplished. In England and Wales, air tightness testing has been mandatory since 2006 for all new builds and non-dwellings with a floor area over 500m².

Air Leakage’s Resulting Outcomes

Air leakage causes heat loss. During windy weather, cold air infiltrates a building through the openings in its fabric. This results in heat loss. 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. There could be a decrease in the toughness and solidity of wet wooden covering due to rot.

These problems will eventually cause structural harm to the building.
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.

These effects can be mitigated by controlling the circulation of air into and out of the building. A properly installed air barrier minimises air leakage, which, in turn, minimises the potential for water vapour to condense on vulnerable wall structures. 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 an important factor in a building’s energy efficiency and is part of government’s plan to battle environmental change by regulating the energy performance of buildings. Heating buildings involves burning fossil fuel which increases CO2 emissions and causes global warming. The best way to reduce the quantity of fossil fuel burnt is by stopping air leakage which reduces heat loss. There are also health issues associated with uncontrolled air leakage. When a building has poor levels of controlled ventilation and high levels of uncontrolled air leakage, this can cause excessive moisture and mould growth, leading to poor health. The best advice is to “Construct tightly, ventilate properly”. High degrees of air leaks cause huge problems such as expensive remedial work on the building and medical problems.

When Do I Need an Air Tightness Test?

Best practice dictates that you complete an air tightness test early in the build process, and then again after the construction process is completed; although not all builds have the first test phase. Newly completed constructions’ energy ratings can be influenced by the test results, as they are used in SAP and SBEM calculations. 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. With selective testing there is a penalty of +2m3/h/m2; if the target score is 5 m3/h/m2 and selective testing was applied, the air tightness test would have to achieve 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. 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

AF Acoustics air tightness testing professionalism has helped many homes and business owners in North-Harrow. Our customers highly recommend us to other people due to the following benefits.

Service and knowledge

In North-Harrow, we have served many clients. The experience garnered from our years of service will help us meet your specific needs no matter the size or type of property. 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 North-Harrow? Contact AF Acoustics today.

Registered Members of the Leading Air Tightness Body in the UK

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

Scheduling Your Air Tightness Testing

We want you to be able to access comprehensive air tightness testing in North-Harrow whenever you need it. We offer responsive scheduling. Schedule for your building to be tested at your convenience. We guarantee that there will be no delays or difficulties.

Quick Turnaround on Test Certificates Where Possible

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

Affordable Fees

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

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 North-Harrow

All domestic and commercial buildings in North-Harrow can be tested by AF Acoustics, no matter how complex they are. The air tightness tests are carried out by competent testers and you will be issued an ATTMA certificate. 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..

Air leakage testing is required by Approved Document L1A and L2A. A maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2 is required. However, a building has to achieve a lower rate to meet the carbon emission target. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. With air leakage comes heat loss, greater CO2 discharge, draughts, thermal bypassing and wind washing and poor energy performance. Exfiltration/infiltration of air is caused by a stack effect. Due to the pressure difference inside and outside the building, rising warm air reduces the pressure in the base of the building and draws in air, whether through open doors, windows or other openings 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 North-Harrow. With air leakage tests, business areas are more comfortable for employees and customers. It will also help you reduce the cost of maintaining heating or cooling in your commercial building, making it more productive.

A Description of Part L Test

Air tightness testing has been a compulsory part of the Building Regulations for new dwellings, renovations and commercial projects since the revision of Document L in 2006. Other names for air tightness are air permeability rate or leakage rate. Although not always seen, air leakage can occur through any gap, space or crack in a building’s fabric. 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 comply with Part L the measured air permeability minimum requirement is 10m3/h/m2 but usually your air permeability target will be much lower. Air leakage is vital to a building’s energy efficiency and is needed to meet Building Regulations Part L and carbon emission standards.

Part F Test Explained

We can complete all your Part F and Part L testing requirements. Not only will we conduct your air tightness test and extract fan flow rate test, we will also recommend experts who can handle your SAP calculations, water calculations and Energy Performance Certificates satisfactorily.
New buildings should ensure that all mechanical extract fans are tested for flow rate, as stipulated by Part F of the Building Regulations. Evidence of this test must be passed to the Building Control Body (BCB) as part of their sign-off procedure. There are three alternative methods which can be followed to test, record and report the testing of extractor fans. AF Acoustics test process is the third method. It uses a vane anemometer and is called the minimum benchmark method.


The types of Air Tightness Testing Services We Offer

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. 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. 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. Level Three: At this level, tests for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings.

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

Air tightness testing determines the extent of air leaking out a building’s envelope. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of m3 per hour, per square metre of building fabric. Air tightness testing is required for new builds. 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.

Approved Document L2A Air Pressure Testing of Commercial Constructions

The measurement of air emitted by a building is tested to ascertain air permeability rating. The test results are inscribed using m3 per hour per square metre. Document L2A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. The test results have a limit; they shouldn’t be higher than 10m3/h/m2. Your building may need a lower air permeability rate to meet the SAP or SBEM assessment. The design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment of a construction records its required air permeability rate. Excess air leakage causes heat loss, greater carbon dioxide discharge and influx of cold air.

We Test Your Automatic Opening Vent’s Smoke Shaft

We test the integrity of the smoke shaft to ensure the automatic opening ventilation is placed in the best condition. 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 fans and vents to perform as required, the shaft itself must be sufficiently air tight so as to create the pressure difference to draw smoke out of the building and protect the occupants. To ensure that automatic opening ventilations work properly, their manufacturers have placed an air permeability target for them which we work towards. The shaft is tested for air permeability by using a fan that is fixed inside it. Then the openings are sealed off in all its parts so that the shaft can be thoroughly examined. The test takes place in advance of the automatic-opening ventilation equipment being installed and commissioned.

Air Flow Measurement of Domestic Ventilation (extraction fan testing)

Buildings that are well insulated and air tight are the standard for buildings. As a result, a high-quality ventilation system that is adequate and performs as required is vital. We have the capacity to test 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. The air flow rates of all intermittent extractor fans, which are to be installed during the building process, are to be tested and the results submitted to the Building Control Body before work is completed.

Particular Test and Building Readiness Operation

When a building is checked for the quantity of air flowing through the gaps in the fabric, it has undergone an air tightness test. Improving the air tightness of a building not only enhances the comfort of the occupants, but can also increases the building’s energy efficiency.

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

At least 20% of different kinds of dwellings in a development have to be tested, according to new regulations; but the reliability of the sample from this type of testing is determined by the types of buildings in the development. We advise that all buildings undergo air pressure testing as there is a penalty for those that don’t.

What Should You Do Before Testing Your Building?

Our test engineers would like to see the drawings (plans and elevations) and design air permeability requirements of your building before taking the test. An Air tightness test can be done in 30 – 60mins. Wind speed should not exceed 6m/s. Test engineers need to know the size of a building envelope and requirements before coming to the site. Making your building ready by ensuring it has an air tight environment will involve:

  • Shut the windows
  • Close the smoke vents
  • Open and secure all inner doors
  • Put off the mechanical vents
  • Close ventilation
  • Fill drainage traps
  • Put off range cookers/stoves a day before the test (if applicable)

Measuring the Building’s Envelope

Before coming to the site, we get the measurement of the building’s envelope. The building envelope is the physical separator between the indoors and outdoors. We use the building envelope measurements to get the right results when testing for air tightness.

Air Permeability from the Envelope Area

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

Air Changes Per Hour

The air change rate is important in designing a ventilation system, however, it is hardly a part of the actual design. The calculation of residential ventilation rates is dependent on the area of the homes and number of occupants.

Cold Roof Envelope Area Measurement

It is important to make sure the roof area and ground floor area of a building are equal. A cold roof 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 system where the insulation is fixed along the rafters with an air barrier inside the insulation. 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.

Process for Testing the building

Examine the wind speed, barometric pressure and temperature. Place the fan on an aperture within the building envelope. Ensure all the testing equipment is ready. 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. The pressure differences in the building at each fan speed should be calculated.

Air Leakage Measurement

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

When a building has the right kind of ventilation (mechanical, natural or a combination of both) and has a low permeability rate, the advantages to the occupants are numerous. Some of them are: Reduced heating expenses because of lower heat loss, with less need for equipment that has high heating ability. A functional ventilation system Less mould will be trapped in the building fabric as a result of less moisture. Thermal comfort is enhanced because air infiltration is lower. 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 provide air tightness testing, consultancy, design reviews and support services on all buildings, both dwellings and non-dwellings in North-Harrow. We also provide cost-effective, local service that complies with all relevant Building Standards.


Good and Best Practice Styles

When constructing a new building, it should be built air tight, as stated by Building Regulations – Approved Document L1A. This regulation was put in place to conserve fuel and power. Part L1A states that new dwellings should be tested for air tightness in accordance with existing regulations.

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

The Air Tightness Testing & Measurement Association (ATTMA) provides the technical standard to be followed for the testing of dwellings in the UK as set out in Building Regulations and other documents. The technical standards 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 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. Those exceptions only occur when there are two or more dwellings in a development. Three units of a dwelling type or 50% of all examples of that dwelling type should be tested. If the development has one or two dwellings only, an air tightness test might not be taken if the DET/TER calculations assume a value of 15m3/h/m2. Find out from your SAP assessor if this is applicable to you. There are different ways that Dwellings and Non-Dwellings should be tested. ATTMA TSL1 and ATTMA TSL2 have clearly stated these. Both residential areas and many non-Dwellings are to take the air leakage test. Buildings with a floor area of less than 500 m2 might not have to take the test. Where air tightness testing is not done, an assumed air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 is used.

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. The scheme echoes the conditions of the Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) and the National Occupation Standard (NOS) documents.

Air leakage testers have three levels

  • Level 1: Testers can test dwellings and non-dwellings up to 4000m3 gross envelope volume when tested as a single entity, with a single fan.
  • Level 2: Testers can test all buildings except large, complex and or high-rise buildings and or phased handover or zonal buildings unless part of a team managed by a level 3 tester.
  • The third level expert tests big and complex zonal and phased buildings and complex high-rise buildings.

Air Pressure Test

Accredited testing companies issue air pressure reports. The testing companies seal extraction fans. After the test has been completed, they record test findings and results in a report. The report adheres to the company’s methods and all standards and requirements of Building Regulations.

Results of the Test

AF Acoustics will ensure the test result is written in accordance with the test standard requirements, identify any deviations from the relevant standards within the report and check air tightness against target value. Our reports correctly note the client, air tightness tester, building and address. If a building fails the test, we provide remedial suggestions before a retest is carried out.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

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

Air Leakage Pathway Listing – You must ensure the following are properly sealed and don’t have any openings.

  • Windows
  • Metre boxes
  • Extract fans
  • Hoods of cookers
  • Bath panel
  • Hot water tank
  • Chimney
  • Tumble drier extracts
  • MVHR
  • Soil panel
  • Boilers
  • Radiators, fans and heaters
  • Skirting and coving
  • Drainage traps
  • 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.