Westcombe-Park Air Tightness Testing Certified by AF-Acoustics

Air tightness testing, also known as air leakage testing or air permeability testing, establishes the rate at which air flows out of gaps in a building 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.

Revisions were made to building regulations to address air leakages – a process where air escapes through any opening in the building, affecting its energy efficiency. Our Air Tightness Testing certificates are registered with Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), a professional association dedicated to promoting technical excellence in all air tightness testing and air leakage measurement applications. AF Acoustics, a licensed air tightness testing company, is available to provide testing services at your request. Our address is Westcombe-Park. You can also call or email us for any of these services:

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

We are registered members of the ATTMA. As a result, our air tightness certificates prove that the building requirements for your building have been met. We are professionals who take the time to explain the testing process, we are able to give informed advice on where problem areas may occur during testing, and how improvements can be made based on results of air pressure testing. 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 Does It Mean?

Air tightness testing is a technique whereby a newly constructed building is evaluated and the quantity of air leaking through is measured. Air tightness testing is also known as air pressure testing or air leakage testing. Air leakage should not be confused with ventilation. Also called draughts or infiltration, air leakage is unrestrained movement of air through holes in a building fabric, while ventilation is the restrained and planned movement of air. Draughts are uncontrolled ventilation. Using air tightness testing, the total air lost can be estimated. Too much air leakage leads to unnecessary heat loss and discomfort for the occupants. Regulations now concentrate on minimising air leakage from the building envelope thereby reducing the amount of fuel burned for maintenance. This helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Air tightness testing is important in establishing air leakage from a building’s fabric, the energy efficiency of a new building and in identifying poor build quality within new developments. With the introduction of tougher regulations, building designs will often consider air tightness at the early stages of the construction process, ensuring attention to detail during construction to create an air-tight envelope. Incorporating this at the beginning of the construction process makes the development more cost effective and energy efficient.

Air Leakage, what Is It?

Air leakage is where air enters and leaves a building uncontrollably through cracks and holes in the building fabric. 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. Testing for air leakage plays a primary role in determining the energy efficiency of a building. It is an important procedure that measures the air tightness level to ensure that the regulatory standards have been attained and the building’s energy calculations have been properly accomplished. In England and Wales, air tightness testing has been mandatory since 2006 for all new builds and non-dwellings with a floor area over 500m².

What Is the Impact of Air Leakage?

Air leakage leads to a reduction in heat. 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. Movement of moist air into cavities in other parts of the building also occur. This process is called exfiltration. 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. Wet wooden overlay or framing can decay, decreasing its durability.

Over the years, these problems can damage the building’s structure.
Air leakage can also cause these problems:

  • Colder homes that result in discomfort
  • Higher heating expenses
  • Reduction in CO2 emissions’

The best way to reduce the harmful effect of moisture is to efficiently control how air moves into and out of the building. Adequately installed air barriers minimise air leaks and the probability of vapour condensing and diffusing into the building’s structure. Proper ventilation, whether active or passive, is critical in expelling undesirable damp scents, water vapour and polluting substances.


Why Should We Do an Air Tightness test?

Air tightness is an important factor in a building’s energy efficiency and is part of government’s plan to battle environmental change by regulating the energy performance of buildings. Fossil fuel is burnt to heat up a building. This leads to a discharge of carbon dioxide which increases global warming. A reduction in air leakage lessens the heat needed to keep a building warm. 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. The best advice is to “Construct tightly, ventilate properly”. Air leakage causes infiltration of moisture into the building envelope, leading to health issues and high repair costs.

When Your Building Needs an Air Tightness Test

A building should ideally be air tightness tested early in the construction process and again at the end of the building project, although sometimes only the final check is carried out. The test results are used in SAP and SBEM calculations, this impacts the energy rating of new building. Larger residential developments do not require testing to be completed on each individual property, instead, testing is undertaken on the different dwelling types within the development. With selective testing, you get a penalty of +2m3/h/m2. Houses that have a target score of 5m3/h/m2 must get a lower score of 3.

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. This type of testing does not reveal the exact air tightness of each residence and is therefore not advisable. Moreover, the penalty implemented on untested buildings makes the required air permeability rate difficult to attain.

Why Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing?

With AF Acoustics, homes and businesses in Westcombe-Park have been getting quality air tightness testing. We come highly recommended by our clients because of the following guarantees.

Service and knowledge

Due to years of experience in conducting air tightness testing in different kinds of buildings in Westcombe-Park, we have the skills to meet your needs no matter the type or size of your property. Our air tightness experts are certified, well-mannered and competent. They’re trained to deliver a quality service, working as an extension of your project. Do you need trustworthy professionals who will provide great results in Westcombe-Park? Contact AF Acoustics today.

Registered by the Leading Air Tightness Body in UK

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

When Can You Call Us to Test Your Building?

We want to provide detailed air permeability testing in Westcombe-Park for you whenever you need it. We have responsive scheduling options. Schedule for your air leakage testing at your comfort. There won’t be delays or complications once you’ve fixed a time.

Quick Turnaround on Test Certificates Where Possible

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.

Affordable Fees

At AF Acoustics, we offer the most competitive prices in Westcombe-Park to ensure you have access to affordable air tightness testing when you need it. We keep the costs down, as we are a small business with low overheads. This allows us to be competitive with our pricing whilst guaranteeing a professional service.

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 Westcombe-Park

We conduct air permeability tests on residential and commercial buildings of all sizes and types. After the test, an ATTMA certificate is given to you. 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.

Approved Document L1A and L2A requires that buildings know their air permeability rates by taking the air leakage test. 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. 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. 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. Air permeability testing is a legal requirement for constructions in Westcombe-Park. This way, they can have high energy performance, meet building regulations requirements and get signed off by building control. Clients and employees will be at ease in their surroundings. Heating and cooling expenses are also reduced and the environment is more productive.

A Description of 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. The air-tightness of a building is known as its ‘air permeability’ 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. 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 highest air permeability target set is 10m3/h/m2 but your building might need a much lower one. Air permeability is key in the following areas: i. A construction’s energy performance, ii. CO2 emission targets iii. Building Regulations Part L standards

What Is Part F Test?

We can complete all your Part F and Part L testing requirements. With our organisation, you receive:

  • Expert fan flow rate testing
  • Experienced air pressure testing
  • Professionals who provide Energy Performance Certificate, water and SAP calculations.

According to Part F, it is compulsory for a flow rate test to be conducted on all mechanical extract fans of new buildings. Building Control Body (BCB) will see proof that the test has been conducted before signing off your building. There are three alternative methods which can be followed to test, record and report the testing of extractor fans. Use method 3 – the minimum benchmark method, which tests extractor fans with vane anemometers. This is our testing procedure.


What Kinds of Air Tightness Testing Services Do We Offer?

Air Tightness Testing has different tiers, depending on how complex a building is and its size. Find them below: Level 1: Air pressure testing for single dwellings and other smaller non-dwellings up to 4000 m³ gross envelope volume, typically tested with a single blower door fan. Air tightness testing for dwellings more than 4000m3, except big phased handover/zonal and high rise (LCHR) constructions is done. Third Level – Testing is done for large high rise and phased handover buildings.

Domestic Buildings Testing as Required by Approved Document L1

The measurement of air emitted by a building is tested to determine air permeability rating. The result is written as m3/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. The required rate can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. 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

Air pressure testing involves the calculation of air escaping through the openings in a building. The result is written as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre of building envelope. Air pressure testing is compulsory, according to Approved Document L2A. The maximum air permeability rate for a dwelling tested is 10m3/h/m2. A building will usually have to achieve a lower rate to meet the SAP or SBEM assessment. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and draught.

Air Leakage Test of Smoke Shafts for Auto Vents

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. When there is a fire, the auto opening vents play an important part in expelling smoke in multi-storey 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. To ensure that automatic opening ventilations work properly, their manufacturers have placed an air permeability target for them which we work towards. An air pressure test is taken for the smoke shaft by installing a fan inside. Once the fan is fixed, the extract points and ventilation grilles on each storey are sealed to ensure that the shaft is in proper condition. Once the test is completed and successful, the automatic opening vents are installed.

Air Flow Measurement of Domestic Ventilation (extraction fan testing)

The requirement to build more highly insulated and air tight buildings means that it is increasingly more important to ensure buildings are not only adequately ventilated but the ventilation system is suitable and commissioned correctly to ensure its effective operation. We test fan extraction rates. It is important to ensure the ventilation strategy is working effectively. This helps to remove pollutants from the air and control excess humidity, particularly in rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens. The air flow rates of all intermittent extractor fans, which are to be installed during the building process, are to be tested and the results submitted to the Building Control Body before work is completed.

Air Tightness Test and Building Preparation Method

The measurement of air pressure in a building is known as an air tightness test. When air leakage is reduced in a building, the occupants will not experience discomfort and the energy performance will increase.

Gaps and cracks in the building that cause air leakage are often difficult to detect. They may be obscured by the internal building finishes. To ensure that the air tightness of a building is optimal, gaps and spaces in the building have to be found and measured.

At least 20% of different kinds of dwellings in a development have to be tested, according to new regulations; but the reliability of the sample from this type of testing is determined by the types of buildings in the development. There is a penalty for untested constructions. Therefore, we suggest air leakage tests for all buildings.

What Should You Do Before Testing Your Building?

Send the drawings of your dwelling (plans and elevations) and its target air permeability requirements to our test engineers. The test engineers would like to have the information needed for the test before coming to your development. Our air leakage test is done between 30 and 60 minutes, and the wind speed is a maximum of 6m/s. To prepare the site for the test, do the following:

  • Open and secure all internal doors;
  • Close all windows;
  • Switch off all mechanical ventilation systems;
  • Seal ventilation;
  • Close smoke vents;
  • Fill all drainage traps;
  • Switch off all range cookers/stoves 24 hours before testing (if applicable)

Calculating the Building Envelope

We undertake the building envelope calculations before we arrive on the site. A building envelope is the boundary between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building. We use the building envelope measurements to get the right results when testing for air tightness.

Air Permeability & 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 Change Rate

Air changes per hour are crucial to ventilation design, but it is only occasionally used as the base for the design or 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 is the kind of roof where the insulation is fixed in the ceiling joists with space between the insulation and roof rafters.

Calculating the Envelope Area of a Warm Roof

A warm roof has the insulation running along the pitched roof rafters with an air barrier normally running parallel along the inside face of the insulation. The envelope area is the barrier between the conditioned space in the insulation and the unconditioned space outside.

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

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. Calculate the air flow volume through the fan which equates to the air leakage. Slowly raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to 55-60Pa. Record pressure differences across the building at each fan speed.

Air Leakage Measurement

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 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: Your heating expenses are less because heat doesn’t escape through a permeable building, and you won’t require appliances with more heating capability. Better performing ventilation system Lower probability of mould because moist air won’t condense in the openings in the building envelope. Fewer draughts, causing more comfort 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 Westcombe-Park. We are cost effective and adhere to all building regulations.


Good and Best Practice Styles

The Building Regulations approved document Part L1A 2010 specifies that any new dwellings must be airtight. This regulation was put in place to conserve fuel and power. Part L1A further makes it obligatory for new buildings to be tested for air permeability in line with existing building standards.

Air Tightness Testing of Dwellings That Meet Technical Standard L1L1

There are technical standards for air tightness test of buildings in the UK detailed by Air Tightness Test and Measurement Association (ATTMA). The technical standards give details regarding the following: BS EN 13829:2001: “Thermal Performance of Buildings. Determination of air permeability of buildings. Fan pressurisation method” and ISO 9972:2015: “Thermal performance of buildings – Determination of permeability of buildings – Fan pressurization method”. That way, testing companies use the same method.

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

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. 50% or 3 units of each dwelling type should undergo an air leakage test in the case of an area with two or more dwellings. 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. To find if your building falls into this category, contact your SAP assessor. ATTMA TSL1 and ATTMA TSL2 prescribe methods for testing occupied and unoccupied buildings. Air leakage testing is compulsory for residential areas and 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.

Building Regulations for England and Wales, Part L

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

There are three levels of testers:

  • A single fan is the instrument used for the first level to examine single buildings and smaller non-dwellings from 1m3 to 4000m3.
  • 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.
  • Third Level – These experts carry out air tightness testing in large and complex high rise and phased handover buildings.

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 adheres to the company’s methods and all standards and requirements of Building Regulations.

Results of the Test

AF Acoustics will ensure the test result is written in accordance with the test standard requirements, identify any deviations from the relevant standards within the report and check air tightness against target value. The identity of the customer, tester, building and address are correctly written in our report. 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

Send us your building design air permeability target and crosscheck the list below before we get to the site.

Air Leakage Pathway List –Ensure you thoroughly check the following equipment. Fill up drainage traps. Here are the pieces of equipment to cover, fill or seal:

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

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.