Petts-Wood Air Tightness Testing, Licensed by AF-Acoustics

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. Since Approved Document L was reviewed in 2006, air tightness testing has become an essential part of building regulations for newly completed and rehabilitated buildings.

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. AF Acoustics certificates are certified by Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA). ATTMA is an association of specialists that concentrate on promoting the best air tightness measurements and air permeability testing techniques. AF Acoustics, a licensed air tightness testing company, is available to provide testing services at your request. Our address is Petts-Wood. We also provide Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing, assessments and consultancy services.

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

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

Air tightness testing involves calculating the quantity of air which escapes through holes in the building fabric. Air leakage and air pressure are also used in place of air tightness. While the normal restrained movement of air all through a building is called ventilation, the unchecked movement of air through cracks and gaps in a building is air leakage; also known as draught or infiltration. Air tightness testing is done to calculate the total quantity of air that escapes through cracks in the building. Such air leakage is called uncontrolled ventilation (draughts). Too much air leakage leads to unnecessary heat loss and discomfort for the occupants. 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 vital in determining the energy efficiency of a new building, air leakage and the build quality. The introduction of tougher regulations has led to the construction of high-quality buildings. Building designs employ air tightness procedures from the early part of construction, creating a building that has adequate air tightness built into its design. When the building fabric is properly constructed to reduce air loss, the building is economical, and energy efficient.

Air Leakage, what Is It?

Air leakage is uncontrolled air movement in a building due to cracks. Air leakage is the uncontrolled movement of air into and out of a building through gaps and spaces in the building’s fabric. It is also referred to as infiltration and is the opposite of ventilation which involves well managed circulation of air in a building. It may cause uncontrolled influx of air during frosty and windy weather. This reduces the temperature of the building, making the occupants uncomfortable. 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. Once the atmosphere is cold and windy, unwanted chilly air infiltrates the building through gaps, leading to heat reduction. 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. Once the moist air reaches the colder internal layer of the wall structure, the vapour in it condenses and forms droplets of liquid, which drawn into building materials and can potentially start a multitude of structural problems. The strength of the outer wooden covering is drastically reduced because it is wet.

These problems will eventually cause structural harm to the building.
Other effects of air leakage are:

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

These effects can be mitigated by controlling the circulation of air into and out of the building. An adequately installed air barrier reduces air leakage and condensation of water vapour on inner wall layers. To get rid of pollutants, water vapour and moisture odour, the building must be well ventilated.


Why Should We Do an Air Tightness test?

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. Heating buildings contribute to global warming and CO2 emissions, since fossil fuels are used to create heat. When air leakage is controlled, heat loss and energy used by the heating system are reduced. 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. A great option would be to build tight and ventilate right. The result of uncontrollable air moving into the building fabric could be health problems and costly repairs.

When Do I Need an Air Tightness Test?

Best practice says that air tightness tests should be carried out early in construction and after the final phase. Newly completed constructions’ energy ratings can be influenced by the test results, as they are used in SAP and SBEM calculations. Individual property is not tested in a large residential development. The test is done on different types of houses within the area. This type of testing attracts a penalty of +2m3/h/m2, consequently, if the target result is 5m3/h/m2, a lower score of 3 would have to be attained.

The assessed air permeability of an untested residence is a calculation of the average test score of the same kind of dwelling in the development, increased by 2m3/h/m2 at 50 Pa. It’s better to test each property because selective testing does not give a realistic picture of individual buildings. Besides, air permeability rates are difficult to achieve for untested buildings in such areas due to the +2m3/h/m2 penalty.

The reasons Why You Should Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing

With AF Acoustics, homes and businesses in Petts-Wood have been getting quality air tightness testing. Our customers highly recommend us to other people due to the following benefits.

Great service and expertise

In Petts-Wood, 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 accredited air testing experts are polite and competent. They are trained to provide the service you need and fit around your project. If you need knowledgeable and trustworthy air leakage experts who can provide exemplary results, AF Acoustics is the team you need in Petts-Wood.

We Are Registered Members of the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA)

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

When to Call Us to Test Your Building

We want to provide detailed air permeability testing in Petts-Wood for you whenever you need it. We have responsive scheduling options. Schedule for your air leakage testing at your comfort. You won’t get delays or difficulties when scheduling.

Test Certificates Get to You on the Next Day, Where Feasible

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 Petts-Wood 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 Petts-Wood

All domestic and commercial buildings in Petts-Wood 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 results are written as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. of a building envelope.

Air tightness testing is recommended by Approved Document L1A and L2A. Although your building is required to have a rating result of 10m3/h/m2, the actual result might have to be lower than that due to carbon emission requirements. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM. Excess air leakage causes heat loss, greater carbon dioxide discharge and can make occupants uncomfortable due to the influx of cold air. It also causes wind washing and thermal bypassing, resulting in lower energy performance. Infiltration/exfiltration is the effect of air pressure difference. Warm air rises while cold air falls. The warm air within a building rises and air pressure at the base falls; this results in air coming in through doors, windows and leakage points. Air tightness testing is required by law for domestic buildings to ensure energy efficiency and comfort within the home environment. It is also a legal requirement that all new builds have an air tightness test carried out to meet energy efficiency standards before it can get signed off by building control in Petts-Wood. Buildings where businesses are conducted will not cause discomfort to employees and clients because they have the legal air permeability rating. In addition, you get lower heating and cooling costs. A comfortable environment results in a higher productivity rate.

A Description of Part L Test

In 2006, Approved Document L was reviewed and building regulations for air permeability became tighter. The air tightness test is presently a requirement for new buildings and reconstructions. Other names for air tightness are air permeability rate or leakage rate. Air leakage can happen via holes and splits in the texture of the building envelope (divider/rooftop sections, service penetrations, etc), which may not be obvious. The Building Regulations (Part L) demand that a selected group of different kinds of residential constructions and all non-domestic buildings greater than 500m2 perform air leakage tests. 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 affects the building’s energy performance and is required to meet Building Regulations Part L and measure up to the standard for low carbon buildings.

A Description of Part F Test

We can complete all your Part F and Part L testing requirements. 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.
Get the mechanical extract fans tested for flow rate. This is what Building Regulations Approved Document F requires. The Building Control Body (BCB) has to see the results of the test as part of its sign-off procedure. Extractor fans can be tested and recorded, and test reports submitted using 3 methods. AF Acoustics test process is the third method. It uses a vane anemometer and is called the minimum benchmark method.


Forms of Air Pressure Testing Services We Provide

Air Tightness Testing has different tiers, depending on how complex a building is and its size. Find them 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. The second level examines simple and complex buildings greater than 4000m3, with the exclusion of large zonal buildings and complex high rise (LCHR) buildings. 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. Document L1A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. The carbon discharge requirement for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. The required air permeability rate for a dwelling can be found on the design-stage SAP report for that dwelling. Air leakage leads to heat loss, increased energy bills, greater CO2 emissions, and an uncomfortable atmosphere for inhabitants due to draughts.

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 test results are inscribed using m3 per hour per square metre. Part L2A of Building Regulations has demanded that such tests be conducted. The test results have a limit; they shouldn’t be higher than 10m3/h/m2. The result of your dwelling’s air permeability rate might have to be lower than required due to SAP or SBEM assessment. The required air permeability rate for each building can be found on the design-stage SAP or SBEM report for that building. 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

Smoke shaft needs to be tested because its air tightness determines the performance of the automatic opening vent fitted on it. Our professionals perform the test. Automatic opening vents are crucial during fire emergencies in storey buildings, as they clear out smoke from the buildings. An air tight shaft creates sufficient pressure difference and ensures that the fans and vents perform properly to draw out smoke from a dwelling and save its occupants. We’re committed to automatic opening vents builders’ target for air permeability. This enables the vents to work efficiently. Fans are placed in the smoke shaft to conduct an air tightness test. The usual openings are closed off too so that the shaft’s integrity can be determined. The test takes place in advance of the automatic-opening ventilation equipment being installed and commissioned.

Testing Extraction Fans for Air Flow

With the legal requirement for buildings that have the right quantity of air pressure, adequate ventilation that is suitable, effective and of high quality has become crucial. We evaluate extraction rates. This has not only been made compulsory by Building Regulations; it also helps reduce humidity in rooms, bathrooms and kitchens and expel pollutants. Building Regulations Part F also requires that the air flow test of all extractor fans (such as kitchen and bathroom extract fans) in new buildings to be conducted and results given to Building Control before construction ends.

Particular Test and Building Readiness Operation

Air tightness tests calculate the level of air leakage a building has and if it is excessive. The air tightness of a building improves its energy efficiency and internal environment.

External claddings and the internal building finishes might obscure a gap in the building fabric. This makes it hard to notice and can results to potential air leakage. The most acceptable approach to show that a building fabric is impermeable is to identify leakage paths within it.

Under the new policies of building developments, the lowest number of domestic buildings developers have to test in an area is 20%. However, this depends on the quantity of different house kinds to ensure there is a regular sample throughout the survey. There is a penalty for untested constructions. Therefore, we suggest air leakage tests for all buildings.

Requirements before the Test

Our test engineers would like to see the drawings (plans and elevations) and design air permeability requirements of your building before taking the test. The duration of air pressure testing is 30 to 60 minutes in most cases and the wind speed should not be more than 6m/s. Test engineers need the drawings and air permeability details from clients so that they can know the size of the building envelope and other information before arriving at the building. In preparing the site to create an air-tight environment:

  • 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)

Building Envelope Calculations

We conduct building envelope calculations prior to the test. The building envelope is the surface area of the thermal boundary of the building. The building envelope calculations are taken from the drawings and used for our air tightness testing.

Air Permeability of the Envelope Area

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

Air Changes Per Hour

Air change rates are often used as rules of thumb in ventilation design but they are seldom used as the actual basis of design or a calculation. Residential ventilation rates are calculated based on area of the residence and number of occupants.

Measuring a Cold Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

When evaluating the roof area of a building, it is important to ensure the area is the same as that of the ground floor. A cold roof has its insulation at the ceiling level, with 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, found at the insulation’s warm side, is the separator between the conditioned internal aspect and the unconditioned.

Building readiness

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

How the Test Is Done

Examine the wind speed, barometric pressure and temperature. Connect a fan (or fans) to an aperture in the building envelope (e.g. door). Set up the equipment for air tightness testing. Record the air volume flow passing through the fan. Gradually increase the fan speed from 20-25 Pa to a maximum of 55-60Pa. At each fan speed, note the differences in air pressure in all the parts of the building.

Air Leakage Calculation

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

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 probability of mould because moist air won’t condense in the openings in the building envelope. Infiltration of air is reduced and the inhabitants are more comfortable. Be assured that you’ll get a test that meets all the regulations and standards no matter how big or small your building is. They also ensure that you spend less money. Here are the services we provide:

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

Best Practice Procedures

Any new building has to be air tight. The 2010 Approved Document L1A of Building Regulations has made it compulsory. The regulation helps to reduce the use of fuel and power. Part L1A has demanded that all new dwellings be tested for air leaks in line with other regulations.

Testing for Air Permeability on Building Fabrics, According to L1 Technical Standard.

During air leakage tests, there are technical standards that must be used. This was mandated by ATTMA – Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association–to align with building regulations and other rules. The technical standards ensure that all companies have similar testing procedures. They are:

  • “Thermal Performance of Buildings. Determination of air permeability of buildings. Fan pressurisation method” BS EN 13829:2001, and
  • “Thermal performance of buildings – Determination of permeability of buildings – Fan pressurization method” ISO 9972:2015
Call us today for a quote on 020 3372 4430
Or you can email us at info@af-acoustics.com

England and Wales: Building Regulation Targets Part L 2010

Approved document L1A has made it compulsory for all new buildings to be tested for air leaks. 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. 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. An SAP assessor can decide which buildings can use the assumed value successfully. The required process for testing buildings for air tightness has been declared in ATTMA TSL1 for occupied buildings and ATTMA TSL2 for unoccupied ones. Both residential areas and many non-Dwellings are to take the air leakage test. If your building has added an estimated assessed rate of 15 m3/h/m2 in its calculations or its useful floor space is less than 500 m2, it may not have to take the test.

England and Wales: Building Regulations Part L

In January 2015, the ATTMA Scheme for Competent Air Tightness Testing Firms and Their Testers (The ATTMA Scheme) was launched. It is an industry competence scheme authorised by the government and specified in Technical Standard L1 & 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

  • Air tightness testing for single buildings and smaller non-dwellings not more than 4000m3 is done with a fan.
  • The second level examines simple and complex buildings greater than 4000m3, with the exclusion of large zonal buildings and complex high-rise buildings unless a level three tester is in charge of the procedure.
  • Air tightness testing for phased, zonal handover, LCHR and multifaceted constructions is carried out by level three experts.

Air Pressure Test

Authorised companies, who test buildings of different types, sizes and complexities, give air tightness reports. Sealed extraction fans are sealed for testing and the details and results of the test are written in a report afterwards. The report adheres to the company’s methods and all standards and requirements of Building Regulations.

Air Tightness Test Results

We analyse our tests and results for any divergence from the standards required and check the air pressure rate against target rate. That way, our results are expressed in line with test standards. Clients’ test reports contain their names, construction, address; the tester’s name is also included. 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 – Building

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 List – We will inspect every part for the building envelope for leaks.

  • Windows: Examine the seal below the sills and around the frames.
  • Doors: Inspect the seal around all external door surrounds. This is more applicable to French doors.
  • Drainage traps: Make sure they’re not filled with water.
  • Skirting and coving: Examine every part and seal where needed.
  • Meter Boxes: Make sure the external supplies are properly covered.
  • Light Fittings: Inspect the seal around all light fittings and switches.
  • Radiators/Fans /Heaters: Check the seal on pipes and wires.
  • Boilers: Inspect the seal around the boiler supply and flue.
  • Extractor Fans: Inspect the edge of the extracts and seal the front of the grill.
  • Cooker Hoods: Examine the seals around all penetrations.
  • Soil pipes: Inspect the seal around all soil pipes and sink waste pipes especially those inside or behind kitchen cupboards.
  • Bath Panels: Make sure all the pipes behind bath panels are sealed properly.
  • Hot water tank: Examine the seal around supply pipes.
  • MVHR: Examine seal around all terminals.
  • Chimneys: Cover the open fireplaces.
  • Junction between floor and wall under kitchens and baths
  • Tumble drier extracts: Study the seal around the extract.

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.