Petersham 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. 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. Located in Petersham, our company is a committed and accredited air permeability testing service provider; we provide air testing services. 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 Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association, our air leakage test certificate is accepted as evidence for Building Regulations sign-off. Not only do we test the air permeability of your building, we describe the procedure in a professional manner and advise you on problem areas discovered during the evaluation. 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

Air tightness testing is carried out to determine the volume of air escaping from holes in a building fabric. Air tightness testing is also known as 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 the recognised method used to measure total air lost through leaks in a building fabric. This is often referred to as uncontrolled ventilation (draughts). When too much air leaks through a building’s fabric, heat loss occurs, making the occupants uncomfortable. The government aims to lessen the quantity of air flowing from newly built buildings. Therefore, regulations have been put in place to reduce uncontrolled ventilation from the building envelope, sustaining the right temperature conditions without using so much fuel. Air tightness testing is important in establishing air leakage from a building’s fabric, the energy efficiency of a new building and in identifying poor build quality within new developments. 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 Explained

Air leakage occurs when air escapes through holes and gaps in a building. It is not the same as ventilation which is regulated air flowing into a building. It is also called infiltration. 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 testing plays a significant role in the energy-saving efficacy of properties. With air tightness testing, you can be sure that the building has met the stipulated targets used for energy calculation and air tightness. All commercial buildings over 500m² and new buildings in England and Wales are mandated to test for air tightness and permeability, according to the 2006 Building Regulations.

What Are the Problems Air Leakage Can Cause?

When air escapes uncontrollably from a building, heat reduction occurs. Heat loss is caused by influx of frosty outside air into a building through the openings in its envelope during draughts and cold weather, leading to an uncomfortable drop in temperature. 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. Wet wooden overlay or framing can decay, decreasing its durability.

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

The best way to reduce the harmful effect of moisture is to efficiently control how air moves into and out of the building. Air leakage and vapour diffusion are minimised when barriers are installed. Passive or active ventilation is required to reduce water vapour, moisture odour and pollutants.


Why is an Air Tightness Test Important?

Air tightness is an integral element of energy efficiency. It is part of government’s plan to overcome climate change through advancements in the energy performance of buildings. Home heating involves burning up fossil fuel which produces carbon dioxide and aids global warming. Reducing air leakage reduces heat loss, which in turn reduces the amount of energy a heating system uses. 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. To “Construct tight, ventilate right” is the best practice. 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

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. The test results are part of SBEM and SAP calculations, therefore they influence the total energy ratings of new buildings. Larger residential developments do not require testing to be completed on each individual property, instead, testing is undertaken on the different dwelling types within the development. Once every building in the residential development is not tested, the expected test result would have to be lowered by 2m3/h/m2. If 5m3/h/m2 was your target score, you must achieve 3m3/h/m2.

If the building has not been tested for air tightness, assessed air permeability rate is the average result of similar buildings in the area +2m3/h/m2 at 50 Pa. Selective testing is not recommended because: i.It is quite tough to achieve the lower air permeability rate set for untested dwellings. ii.The proper air tightness rate for each building in the development cannot be attained, as only some underwent air tightness testing; a tested building might be much tighter than an untested one.

Why Pick AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing?

Business owners and home owners in Petersham have been helped by AF Acoustics air tightness testing. We are recommended by our clients for the following reasons.

Helpful service and information

In Petersham, 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. 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. AF Acoustics is the crew you need in Petersham to give you the best solutions.

Registered Members of the Leading Air Tightness Body in the UK

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 Can You Call Us to Test Your Building?

We want to provide detailed air permeability testing in Petersham for you whenever you need it. We offer responsive scheduling. Schedule for your building to be tested at your convenience. You won’t get delays or difficulties when scheduling.

Next-day Turnaround for Certificates

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

Competitive Pricing

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

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

Air Tightness Tests for Any Kind of building in Petersham

All domestic and commercial buildings in Petersham 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. 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 maximum air permeability rate is 10m3/h/m2. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. This target can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM. 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. To get signed off by building control in Petersham, all buildings are to undergo air tightness testing and measure up to the required energy efficiency standards. Buildings where businesses are conducted will not cause discomfort to employees and clients because they have the legal air permeability rating. The company also gets reduced heating and cooling costs and higher productivity rates.

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. Air tightness can also be called air leakage or air permeability 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. Samples of houses in an area and all non-domestic buildings with more than an area of to m2 must be tested, according to Part L of the Building Regulations. The highest air permeability target set is 10m3/h/m2 but your building might need a much lower one. Air tightness is important for meeting the Building Regulations Part L standards, exceeding requirements for low carbon buildings, and overall energy efficiency.

Part F Test Explained

All your Part L and Part F testing requirements can be met by us. 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.
New buildings should ensure that all mechanical extract fans are tested for flow rate, as stipulated by Part F of the Building Regulations. Building Control Body (BCB) has made a presentation of evidence of the test a compulsory aspect of a building’s sign-off process. 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.


What Kinds of Air Tightness Testing Services Do We Offer?

There are several levels of air leakage testing based on the kind, size and multifaceted aspects of a dwelling. Here they are: 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. Level Three: At this level, tests for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings.

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

An air leakage test is a test to determine the level of uncontrolled air flow through gaps or cracks in the fabric of a building. The 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. A building has to achieve a lower rate to meet the carbon dioxide emission target. The required rate can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Excess air leakage causes heat loss and discomfort due to the influx of cold air, also causing increased energy bill expense.

Approved Document L2A Air Pressure Testing of Commercial Constructions

An air leakage test is a test to determine the level of uncontrolled air flow through gaps or cracks in the fabric of a building. The result of the air leakage test is expressed as a quantity of air leakage (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Document L2A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. The results of air permeability rate should not exceed 10m3/h/m2. The SAP or SBEM assessment for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Uncontrolled air leakage can cause several problems. They are: infiltration of cold air, discomfort, reduction in heat, and higher CO2 emission rate.

We Offer Smoke Shaft Air Pressure Testing

To ensure that the auto opening vent will perform optimally when fitted and commissioned, we test the smoke shaft to verify its air tightness. 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. The performance of the fans and vents depends on the air tightness of the shaft. Air tight shafts have enough pressure difference to extract smoke and save people inside a building during fire emergencies. 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. The shaft is tested for air permeability by using a fan that is fixed inside it. 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. Smoke shaft tests occur before installing and commissioning automatic opening ventilation.

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. A building must have an optimal ventilation system to dispel humidity from bathrooms, kitchens and other rooms and extract odours and pollutants. We can also help you meet the Building Regulations targets. Part F Building Regulations also require standard intermittent extractor fans in new buildings (such as bathroom and kitchen extractors) to have their air flow rates measured on site and the results submitted to the building control body before completion.

Air Tightness Test and Building Preparation Method

Air tightness tests calculate the level of air leakage a building has and if it is excessive. If the rate of air pressure is good, the energy performance of a building will be high and the inhabitants will be comfortable.

It is difficult to notice unwanted openings in a building envelope. They might be blocked by the internal finishes. The only satisfactory way to show that a building fabric is airtight is to detect and measure leakage paths within the building fabric.

Under the new regulations developers must test 20% of the dwellings on a site but this also depends on the amount of differing house types to ensure that a consistent sample is taken throughout the construction of the development. There is a penalty for untested constructions. Therefore, we suggest air leakage tests for all buildings.

What Should You Do Before Testing Your Building?

Clients should send the drawings (plans and elevations) and air permeability requirements to our engineers. We would like to know the requirements and the building envelope’s size prior to testing. The tests take 30 – 60 minutes, and wind speed does not surpass 6m/s. Making your building ready by ensuring it has an air tight environment will involve:

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

Calculating the Building Envelope

We undertake the building envelope calculations before we arrive on the site. The building envelope is the physical separator between the indoors and outdoors. The calculations, which are extracted from the drawings, are fed into our estimations when testing your building for air leaks.

Envelope Area Air Permeability

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 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

Measuring if the roof area and ground floor area of a building are the same is vital. A cold roof is a roof that has its insulation in the ceiling and there’s a huge space between the insulation and rafters.

Warm Roof Envelope Area Measurement

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 Preparation

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

Site Test Procedure

Check weather conditions (wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure); Fix a fan to an aperture, usually the door, in the building. Set up the testing gear. Using the fan, measure the air flow volume, from the building fabric. Gradually increase the fan speed from 20-25 Pa to a maximum of 55-60Pa. Record pressure differences across the building at each fan speed.

Air Leakage Calculation

We can determine where air leakage is occurring through our test procedure. Once the test has been completed, we crosscheck the data and send a report to you. If the test fails, we will advise you about corrective measures. 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: Lower heating bills due to less heat loss, with potentially smaller requirements for heating and cooling equipment capacities Better 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. Our services include: air pressure testing, support services, re-examining designs and consultancy for all buildings in Petersham. We are cost effective and adhere to all building regulations.


Best Practice Procedures

Any new building has to be air tight. The 2010 Approved Document L1A of Building Regulations has made it compulsory. Less fuel and power are consumed by buildings. Part L1A further makes it obligatory for new buildings to be tested for air permeability in line with existing building standards.

Testing for Air Tightness in Building Fabrics of Dwellings to Adhere to Technical Standards 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)

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. 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. There are different ways that Dwellings and Non-Dwellings should be tested. ATTMA TSL1 and ATTMA TSL2 have clearly stated these. Air tightness tests are to be carried out on all residential developments (all the buildings or a selected group) and all certain Non-Dwellings. Non-dwellings where floor area is less than 500 m2 or has an assumed assessed air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 in their calculations, may not have to undergo the air leakage test.

Building Regulations Part L (England And Wales)

An industry-wide competence scheme endorsed by the government is carried out by the ATTMA. It was launched in January 2015 as stipulated in the Technical Standard L1 and L2. Its basis is the National Occupation Standard (NOS) and Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) documents standard for testing and essentials for testing knowledge.

Testers can be divided into three types

  • Level 1: Testers can test dwellings and non-dwellings up to 4000m3 gross envelope volume when tested as a single entity, with a single fan.
  • Air tightness testing is done in all dwellings but big phased handover/zonal and high rise (LCHR) constructions are not included except a level three tester is the head of the team.
  • Level Three: Testing for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings, phased handover/zonal buildings and other complex buildings is carried out by level three experts.

Air Tightness Test Report

Air tightness reports are issued by accredited firms that carry out air permeability tests on buildings of different sizes or complexities. Extraction fans will be sealed temporarily; the results of the test are recorded in a short report. The report will be produced in accordance with company’s procedures, the relevant standards and the requirements of all relevant governing bodies.

Test Results

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. In the event that a building fails the test, we suggest methods of improving the building and what repairs to do on the building fabric if a retest is required.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Dwelling

Before we arrive on site, ensure you have sent us the air permeability target and been through the checklist below and the ones we have sent you. This will greatly facilitate the process.

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

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

Temporarily cover the following;

  • Trickle Vents: Close them.
  • MVHR Terminal/Extract Fans: Switch off and seal temporarily.
  • Air Bricks and Chimney Flues: Cover temporarily.
  • Cooker Hoods: Seal off from the inside or outside.

Air Tightness Testing FAQ’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The common leakage sites are:

All pipe works within the kitchen and bathrooms

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

Our team of experts can support you through the following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. Air tightness testing applies to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gerard Finn

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