Air Tightness Testing, Certified by AF-Acoustics, in Upper-Edmonton

Air tightness testing, also called air leakage testing or air pressure testing, calculates the quantity of air escaping through openings in a building. 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 Upper-Edmonton, our company is a committed and accredited air permeability testing service provider; we provide air testing services. You can also call or email us for any of these services:

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

As registered members of the ATTMA, our air tightness certificates are accepted as proof of 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. AF Acoustics provides services that are cost effective and of high standard.

Our Guarantee

  • Over 15 years experience
  • State of the art equiptment
  • Onsite Support
  • Next Day Report Turn Around
Call us today for a quote on 020 3372 4430
Or you can email us at info@af-acoustics.com

Air Tightness Testing – What It Means

Air tightness testing is a technique whereby a newly constructed building is evaluated and the quantity of air leaking through is measured. Other names for air tightness testing are air leakage testing and air pressure testing. Air leakage is the draught or infiltration of unbridled air through the spaces and openings in a building. It is different from ventilation, which is the contained circulation of air within and outside the building. Air leakage is uncontrolled ventilation. Air tightness testing is the approved method for gauging the entire air that has leaked through a building fabric. Once too much air escapes, heat reduction occurs, causing the temperature of the building to drop to a level that isn’t comfortable for those residing in it. 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. Calculating the emission of air from a building’s fabric, establishes the energy efficiency of the building. 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. This can make a building more energy efficient since air leakage is under control. It will also be cost effective and of high quality.

Air Leakage Explained

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. As air leakage is uncontrolled, too much air may enter the house during cold or windy weather, leading to excessive heat loss and uncomfortable cold draughts. Air leakage and a dwelling’s energy efficiency are intertwined. Testing is needed to verify that air tightness levels used in the building’s energy calculations align with the targets required by the law. Air tightness testing is compulsory for all new constructions and non dwellings with a floor area over 500m² in England and Wales. This came into effect in 2006.

Air Leakage’s Resulting Outcomes

Air leakage leads to heat reduction. 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. 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. The water vapour in the moist air condenses on the inner wall surface holes. After a while, it is absorbed into building materials and diffuses, causing potential structural problems. Wooden sheathing or overlay becomes wet, making it weak.

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.

The key to minimising the damage potential of moisture is effectively managing the flow 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. Correct ventilation, whether passive or active, ensures fresh air circulates through the building, eliminating water vapour, moist odour and polluting substances.


Why is an Air Tightness Test Important?

Climate change caused by carbon dioxide emission is an environmental hazard that government is trying to curb. Energy performance and air tightness is a key part of this plan. Fossil fuel is burnt to heat up a building. This leads to a discharge of carbon dioxide which increases global warming. The reduction of air leakage leads to lower heat loss and quantity of heat generated in a building. Properties with uncontrolled air leakage also cause health issues. A building with poor ventilation and high air permeability is conducive for moisture and mould growth which can affect the inhabitant’s health. A great option would be to build tight and ventilate right. High levels of air leakage can lead to moisture ingress into the building fabric, resulting in expensive repair costs and potential health problems due to mould.

When Is an Air Tightness Test Needed?

Best practice says that air tightness tests should be carried out early in construction and after the final phase. The results of the test can affect a building’s energy ratings because they play a part in SBEM and SAP 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. 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.

Why Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing?

Numerous businesses and home owners have been aided by AF Acoustics air tightness testing proficient skills in Upper-Edmonton. Our customers highly recommend us to other people due to the following benefits.

Great service and expertise

In Upper-Edmonton, 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. Our knowledgeable and dependable air testing experts will provide lasting solutions to your problem. Call AF Acoustics for your air tightness testing.

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

We are registered with ATTMA, a professional body that focuses on high quality air tightness testing and air permeability applications. This means our services are endorsed by the leading air leakage testing body in the UK.

Responsive scheduling

We want you to be able to access comprehensive air tightness testing in Upper-Edmonton whenever you need it. Simply fix a convenient time for your building’s air permeability test. We offer responsive scheduling. 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.

Fair Pricing

AF Acoustics offers competitive fees in Upper-Edmonton. Since we’re a small business, we offer less expensive air permeability testing and render high quality services.

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

Air Tightness Testing for Domestic & Commercial Buildings of All Types and Sizes in Upper-Edmonton

Regardless of the size, type, or complexity of your domestic or commercial building in Upper-Edmonton, we can provide you with air tightness testing, carried out by an experienced and professional air tightness tester and issue you a certified ATTMA certificate. The best way to determine how much air seeps through a building’s fabric is through air permeability testing. The results are registered as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building.

Air tightness testing is recommended by Approved Document L1A and L2A. The design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM of a construction records its required air permeability rate. While the law requires the highest air permeability rate to be 10m3/h/m2, your building might have to get a lower rate to meet the carbon emissions target. Several problems are caused by uncontrolled ventilation. They are:

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

Warm air within a heated building rises and lowers the pressure at the building’s base to draw in air through the openings in the building fabric, leading to exfiltration or infiltration. To limit exfiltration and infiltration, the law requires that domestic buildings take air leakage tests. The buildings must be energy efficient and signed off by building control in Upper-Edmonton. For commercial constructions, air pressure tests result in a better environment for workers and customers. This increases the company’s productivity and lowers heating and cooling expenses.

Part L Test

Air tightness testing is a Building Regulations obligation for new buildings, commercial developments and revamped buildings. This was put into effect in 2006 after Document L was reappraised. Other names for air tightness are air permeability rate or leakage rate. Air leaks through gaps and spaces in the building fabric such as service penetrations, walls and roof junctions. Sometimes, this is not obvious to occupants. Part L of the Building Regulations requires that all non-domestic buildings which have a gross floor area greater than 500m2, be subject to mandatory air permeability tests. For domestic dwellings, a sample of houses (in a development) must be tested. The maximum air permeability rating allowed is 10m3/h/m2, but your building might need a lower rating ts. Air permeability is key in the following areas: i. A construction’s energy performance, ii. CO2 emission targets iii. Building Regulations Part L standards

A Description of Part F Test

We can complete all your Part F and Part L testing requirements. We deliver quality air permeability and extract fan flow rate testing, and also recommend skilled experts who will handle your water calculations, SAP calculations and Energy Performance Certificates.
Approved Document F of the Building Regulations demands that all mechanical extract fans in newly completed constructions undergo a flow rate test. The Building Control Body (BCB) has to see the results of the test as part of its sign-off procedure. Examining, documenting and submitting reports of extract fans’ test can be done using three methods. Using a vane anemometer, our testing procedure follows Method 3 – The minimum benchmark method.


What Kinds of Air Tightness Testing Services Do We Offer?

Here are the descriptions of the ways air permeability can be tested: First Level – For building 1m3-4000m3, single and smaller non-dwellings, a single blower door fan is used to carry out the test. Level Two: Single and multifaceted buildings 4000m3 gross envelope volume and above are tested for air pressure. High rise (LCHR) buildings and phased handover/zonal buildings are excluded from this level. 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

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 written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Air tightness testing is required for new builds. A lower air permeability rate might be needed due to carbon emission requirements. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. An excessive amount of air leakage results in greater energy expenses, heat reduction and carbon dioxide emissions.

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

The measurement of air emitted by a building is tested to ascertain air permeability rating. The result of the air leakage test is expressed as a quantity of air leakage (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L2A. Each building tested must achieve a maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2. In order to comply with the SAP assessment, it may be necessary to achieve a lower air permeability rate. The air permeability target can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Excess air leakage causes heat loss, greater carbon dioxide discharge and influx of cold air.

Air Permeability Testing of Smoke Shafts (for automatic opening vents)

To ensure that the auto opening vent will perform optimally when fitted and commissioned, we test the smoke shaft to verify its air tightness. Smoke needs to be cleared out in the event of a fire. The automatic opening ventilation is a vital aspect of the fire strategy for high rise buildings. 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. 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. An air pressure test is conducted using a fan installed in the shaft. The intended openings of the shaft (i.e. extract point and openings for ventilation grilles on each floor) are sealed off for the test so that the integrity of the shaft itself can be determined. This test is conducted before the automatic opening ventilation is fixed and commissioned.

Measurement of Air Flow of Domestic Ventilation

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 have the capacity to test extraction rates. This test is required by law and it enables a building have a high-quality ventilation system that is efficient and removes pollutants and odours while limiting humidity in rooms, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Another of such targets, as stated by Part F, is to have the standard intermittent extractor fans, like kitchen and bathroom extractors, in new constructions measured for air flow and results given to Building Control before the construction work is completed.

Particular Test and Building Readiness Operation

An air tightness test measures the extent of air leakage in a building. Improving the air tightness of a building not only enhances the comfort of the occupants, but can also increases the building’s energy efficiency.

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

With residential buildings in an area, new building regulations demand that a minimum of 20% be measured for air leakage. Consistent samples are determined by the quantity of the different types of houses present during the construction of the project. We recommend that all buildings be tested as those that aren’t are penalised.

What You Need to Do Before Undertaking 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. This is to have the needed information for the building and to know the size of the building envelope before coming to the site. Air tightness testing lasts for 30 to 60 minutes and wind speed is not more than 6m/s. To get the site ready, make the place air tight by closing and securing all external doors, windows, ventilation and smoke vents. Remember to turn off range cookers or stoves a day before testing as well as mechanical ventilation systems, and fill all drainage traps.

  • 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 take the building envelope calculations before the test. The building envelope is the surface area of the structural barrier of a building. It separates the interior from the exterior part of the dwelling The 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 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 Change Rate

Air exchange rate is vital to ventilation design but it isn’t used as the determinant of the actual design or calculation. The number of inhabitants and area of residence are used in measuring residential ventilation rates.

Cold Roof Construction Envelope Area Calculation

The area of the roof and ground floor should be the same. A cold roof has the insulation at the horizontal ceiling level and a large void or space between the insulation and the pitched roof rafters.

Warm Roof Construction Envelope Area Calculation

A warm roof is a roof where the insulation is installed on top of the roof structure. The envelope area is the boundary or barrier containing the overall internal ‘conditioned space’ separating it from the external environment (or non-conditioned spaces and adjacent buildings), and this is located on the warm side of the insulation.

Preparing the Building

  • Shut all windows
  • Close the smoke vents
  • Shut and secure all inner doors
  • turn off the mechanical vents
  • Temporarily seal vents
  • Fill and block drainage traps

How the Test Is Done

Measure the weather conditions. Check the temperature, barometric pressure and wind speed. Fix a fan to an aperture, usually the door, in the building. Set up testing equipment. Record the air volume flow passing through the fan. Gradually increase the fan speed from 20-25 Pa to a maximum of 55-60Pa. Note the difference in air pressure in several parts of the building at each fan speed.

Evaluating Air Leakage

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

The positive effects of an air tight building with efficient ventilation (natural, mechanical or a combination) cannot be underestimated. Here they are: Your heating expenses are less because heat doesn’t escape through a permeable building, and you won’t require appliances with more heating capability. A functional ventilation system Your building will have less mould since moisture cannot escape into holes and cavities. Infiltration of air is reduced and the inhabitants are more comfortable. From the smallest to biggest building or development, we adhere to Building Regulations Part L and Building Standards. We provide air tightness testing, consultancy, design reviews and support services on all buildings, both dwellings and non-dwellings in Upper-Edmonton. We also provide cost-effective, local service that complies with all relevant Building Standards.


Good and Best Practice Standards

All new buildings, residential or commercial, must be air tight, according to Approved Document Part L1A of Building Regulations (2010). Less fuel and power are consumed by buildings. Part L1A states that new dwellings should be tested for air tightness in accordance with existing regulations.

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

Certain technical standards are to be employed during air pressure test in the UK, as specified by ATTMA, building regulations and other documents. They explain in detail and provide guidelines for 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”.

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

Test for air permeability must be conducted on your new constructions. This is stated in Approved Document L1A. For developments of two or more dwellings, an air leakage test should be carried out on the three units of each dwelling type; or 50% of all instances of that dwelling type. If there are no more than two new dwellings, using an assumed value of 15m3/h/m2 in the DET/TER calculations might exempt them from air tightness testing. Find out from your SAP assessor if this is applicable to you. ATTMA TSL1 and ATTMA TSL2 prescribe methods for testing occupied and unoccupied buildings. Air tightness tests are to be carried out on all residential developments (all the buildings or a selected group) and all certain Non-Dwellings. A building might not have to undertake the air leakage test if its floor space is less than 500m2 or its DET calculations have an air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 added to it.

Part L Building Regulations Standards for England and Wales

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. 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

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

Air Leakage Test Report

Authorised companies, who test buildings of different types, sizes and complexities, give air tightness reports. Temporary sealing of extraction units will be done by the tester; all test results will be noted, and a shortened form report will be written which will include the findings of the test. The organisation makes sure the report meets the company and government’s requirements.

Test Outcomes

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. We make sure our report has the name of the building, customer, address and tester. Where applicable, we will identify pass or failure of your building and provide recommendations for any remedial action or improvement to the building if any further testing is required.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

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 Checklist – Check will be done for visible leaks in the following places:

  • Windows: Check the seal beneath the sills and around the frames.
  • Doors: Check the seal around all external door surrounds (especially French doors).
  • Drainage traps: Check if they are filled with water.
  • Skirting and coving: Check above and below all skirting and coving, sealing where necessary.
  • Metre Boxes: Check all external supplies are sealed appropriately.
  • Light Fittings: Check the seal around all light fittings and switches.
  • Radiators / Fans / Heaters: Check the seal around all pipes and wires.
  • Boilers: Check the seal around the boiler supply and flue.
  • Extractor Fans: Check around the edge of the extracts, only the front of the grill can be sealed.
  • Cooker Hoods: Check the seals around all penetrations.
  • Soil pipes: Check the seal around all soil pipes and sink waste pipes especially those boxed in or behind kitchen cabinets.
  • Bath Panels: Check if all pipes behind bath panels are sealed properly.
  • Hot water tank: Check the seal around all supply pipes.
  • MVHR: Check seal around all terminals.
  • Chimneys: Open fireplaces must be sealed prior to our arrival.
  • Tumble drier extracts: Check the seal around the extract.
  • 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.