Air Tightness Testing, Certified by AF-Acoustics, in Westminster

The measurement of air escaping from a building is called air tightness testing. It is also referred to as air permeability testing or air pressure testing. Air tightness testing became an integral part of building regulations for new buildings, commercial developments and revamped buildings in 2006 after Document L was reviewed.

The energy performance of a building can be affected by air leakage. To address this problem, alterations to building regulations have been made. 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. Located in Westminster, 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. 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 involves calculating the quantity of air which escapes through holes in the building fabric. Other names for air tightness testing are air leakage testing and air pressure testing. Air leakage, also known as infiltration or draught, allows air to pass through unwanted leaks in a building; unlike ventilation where the air inside and outside of a building and its flow from one end to the other is controlled. 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). When too much air leaks through a building’s fabric, heat loss occurs, making the occupants uncomfortable. The government aims to lessen the quantity of air flowing from newly built buildings. Therefore, regulations have been put in place to reduce uncontrolled ventilation from the building envelope, sustaining the right temperature conditions without using so much fuel. Air tightness testing is important in establishing air leakage from a building’s fabric, the energy efficiency of a new building and in identifying poor build quality within new developments. Most building designs take air pressure into account at the beginning of construction in order to have an air-tight envelope and measure up to the required standards. A building that is air tight A building that is air tight is more economical and ensures less drafts ALS energy efficient.

Air Leakage

This occurs when openings in a building lead to excess air flow into and out of the building. 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 plays a major part in the energy efficiency of buildings, and testing is necessary as a means of demonstrating that the air tightness targets used in building energy calculations have been achieved. All commercial buildings over 500m² and new buildings in England and Wales are mandated to test for air tightness and permeability, according to the 2006 Building Regulations.

The Impact of Air Leakage

Air leakage leads to heat reduction. During windy weather, cold air infiltrates a building through the openings in its fabric. This results in heat loss. The infiltration of chilly air causes exfiltration, making warm air within the building escape through the spaces in other parts of the building. 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.

As the years go by, these conditions can result in structural damage.
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.

Successfully managing the movement of air into and outside the building will limit the damaging effects of moisture. Adequately installed air barriers minimise air leaks and the probability of vapour condensing and diffusing into the building’s structure. Correct ventilation, whether passive or active, ensures fresh air circulates through the building, eliminating water vapour, moist odour and polluting substances.


Why Should We Do an Air Tightness test?

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. Home heating involves burning up fossil fuel which produces carbon dioxide and aids global warming. The reduction of air leakage leads to lower heat loss and quantity of heat generated in a building. Uncontrolled air leakage also results in health problems. Coupled with poor air circulation, it leads to the growth of mould and mildew. The best advice is to “Construct tightly, ventilate properly”. High degrees of air leaks cause huge problems such as expensive remedial work on the building and medical problems.

When Your Building Needs an Air Tightness Test

Best practice dictates that you complete an air tightness test early in the build process, and then again after the construction process is completed; although not all builds have the first test phase. The test results are used in SAP and SBEM calculations, this impacts the energy rating of new building. Individual property is not tested in a large residential development. The test is done on different types of houses within the area. 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.

If your building has not been pressure tested, its assessed air permeability would be the average score of buildings like yours in the area +2m3/h/m2 at 50 Pa. 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?

With AF Acoustics, homes and businesses in Westminster have been getting quality air tightness testing. Our clients highly recommend us for the following reasons.

Helpful service and information

Due to years of experience in conducting air tightness testing in different kinds of buildings in Westminster, we have the skills to meet your needs no matter the type or size of your property. We’ll work with you to carry out our tests and consultations at times that are convenient to you, delivering an exceptional quality, convenient service. Do you need trustworthy professionals who will provide great results in Westminster? Contact AF Acoustics today.

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

AF Acoustics is a member of ATTMA, an association of specialists that concentrates on promoting the best air tightness measurements and air permeability testing techniques. It is the leading air permeability testing body in the UK and has recognised our competence and services.

When Can You Call Us to Test Your Building?

We want you to be able to access comprehensive air tightness testing in Westminster whenever you need it. Pick a time that is convenient for you in our responsive scheduling options. We won’t make you wait or make the process complicated.

You Could Get Your Certificates on the Next Day

AF Acoustics has professional speedy services to satisfy clients who want their test results immediately. We have a next day turnaround policy for our test certificates and endeavour to deliver in all situations.

Competitive Pricing

AF Acoustics offers competitive fees in Westminster. 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

Get Air Leakages Test for Homes and Commercial buildings in Westminster

Whatever the type and size of a domestic or commercial building in Westminster, AF Acoustics’ experts can test it for air permeability and issue an ATTMA certificate afterwards. You can find out how much uncontrolled ventilation your building has by testing it for air leakages. The test results are described as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre..

Approved Document L1A and L2A requires that buildings know their air permeability rates by taking the air leakage test. A maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2 is required. However, a building has to achieve a lower rate to meet the carbon emission target. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. 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.

Infiltration/exfiltration is the effect of air pressure difference. Warm air rises while cold air falls. The warm air within a building rises and air pressure at the base falls; this results in air coming in through doors, windows and leakage points. To get signed off by building control in Westminster, all buildings are to undergo air tightness testing and measure up to the required energy efficiency standards. With air leakage tests, business areas are more comfortable for employees and customers. The company also gets reduced heating and cooling costs and higher productivity rates.

Part L Test Explained

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. Air tightness is referred to as air permeability or leakage rate. Air leakage can occur through gaps, holes and cracks in the fabric of the building envelope (service penetrations, wall/roof junctions, etc), which are not always visible. Samples of houses in an area and all non-domestic buildings with more than an area of to m2 must be tested, according to Part L of the Building Regulations. The highest air permeability target set is 10m3/h/m2 but your building might need a much lower one. Air permeability is key in the following areas: i. A construction’s energy performance, ii. CO2 emission targets iii. Building Regulations Part L standards

Part F Test Explained

We can provide you all that you need to serve all your Part L and Part F 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.
Approved Document F of the Building Regulations demands that all mechanical extract fans in newly completed constructions undergo a flow rate test. Evidence of this test must be passed to the Building Control Body (BCB) as part of their 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

Here are the descriptions of the ways air permeability can be tested: A single blower door fan is used for air tightness testing for single buildings and smaller non-dwellings not more than 4000m3. Level 2: Air pressure testing for simple and complex buildings larger than 4000 m³ gross envelope volume which does not include large and complex, high rise (LCHR) buildings, and phased handover/zonal buildings. The third level tests big and complex zonal and phased buildings and complex high rise 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 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. Your building may need a lower rate to meet the CO2 discharge target. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Excess air leakage causes heat loss and discomfort due to the influx of cold air, also causing increased energy bill expense.

We Offer Air Leakage Testing of Business Buildings to Meet Approved Document L2A Standard

Air tightness testing determines the extent of air leaking from a building’s envelope. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of air pressure (m3 per hour) per square metre of building fabric. Document L2A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. The test results have a limit; they shouldn’t be higher than 10m3/h/m2. The result of your dwelling’s air permeability rate might have to be lower than required due to SAP or SBEM assessment. To get your building’s required air permeability rate, check its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Excess air leakage causes heat loss, greater carbon dioxide discharge and influx of cold air.

We Offer Smoke Shaft Air Pressure Testing

We provide smoke shaft tests to make sure it is air tight enough to let the automatic opening ventilation work optimally when it’s installed and commissioned. Automatic opening vents are crucial during fire emergencies in storey buildings, as they clear out smoke from the buildings. For the fans and vents to perform as required, the shaft itself must be sufficiently air tight so as to create the pressure difference to draw smoke out of the building and protect the occupants. 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. Then the openings are sealed off in all its parts so that the shaft can be thoroughly examined. The test takes place in advance of the automatic-opening ventilation equipment being installed and commissioned.

Testing Extraction Fans for Air Flow

Buildings that are well insulated and air tight are the standard for buildings. As a result, a high-quality ventilation system that is adequate and performs as required is vital. We evaluate extraction rates. A building must have an optimal ventilation system to dispel humidity from bathrooms, kitchens and other rooms and extract odours and pollutants. We can also help you meet the Building Regulations targets. 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

Air tightness test determines the level of air permeability in a building. The air tightness of a building improves its energy efficiency and internal environment.

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 best solution to demonstrate a building’s air tightness level is to check for leakage paths in the building envelope.

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. Buildings that don’t undergo the test are penalised. All dwellings in a development should be tested to ensure optimum air tightness.

Pre-Test Requirements

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

  • 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 take the building envelope calculations before the test. A building envelope is the boundary between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building. The measurement is obtained from the construction drawings, and put in our calculations to conduct the test.

Air Permeability & The Envelope Area

Approved Document L1A Conservation of Fuel and Power in New Dwellings (2010) defines air permeability as “air leakage rate per hour per square metre of envelope area at the test reference pressure differential of 50 pascals (50n/m2)” and envelope area as “the total area of all floors, walls and ceilings bordering the internal volume that is the subject of the pressure test. This includes walls and floors below external ground level. Overall internal dimensions are used to calculate this envelope area and no subtractions are made for the area of the junctions of internal walls, floors and ceilings with exterior walls, floors and ceilings.”

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 measured based on the number of inhabitants and area of residence.

Measuring a Cold Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

It is important to make sure the roof area and ground floor area of a building are equal. A cold roof is a roof that has its insulation in the ceiling and there’s a huge space between the insulation and rafters.

Measuring a Warm Roof Construction’s Envelope Area

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 boundary between the internal environment and external environment (adjacent buildings), and can be found on the insulation’s warm part.

Building Preparation

  • Turning off mechanical vents
  • Shutting all windows and internal doors
  • Temporarily seal vents and smoke vents
  • Filling the drainage stops

Site Test Process

Examine the wind speed, barometric pressure and temperature. Fix a fan to an aperture, usually the door, in the building. Set up testing equipment. Calculate the air flow volume through the fan which equates to the air leakage. Gradually increase the speed of the fan to a maximum of 55-60Pa. Record how the air pressure differs at each fan speed.

Measuring air leakage

Our competent engineers note the points of air leakage, examine the test data and send test results to the customer in a technical report. If the test fails, we inform clients on what to do about it. Air Tightness Testing and Compliance

An airtight building has several positive impacts when combined with an appropriate ventilation system (whether natural, mechanical, or hybrid): Lower heating bills due to less heat loss, with potentially smaller requirements for heating and cooling equipment capacities Better performing ventilation system Lower probability of mould because moist air won’t condense in the openings in the building envelope. Thermal comfort is enhanced because air infiltration is lower. Our clients can expect a stress-free conformity to Part L Building Regulations standards, whether they have a single building or a large commercial building. We provide air tightness testing, consultancy, design reviews and support services on all buildings, both dwellings and non-dwellings in Westminster. We also provide cost-effective, local service that complies with all relevant Building Standards.


Good and Best Practice Standards

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 states that any new building must undergo an air pressure test, according to present 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

Part L 2010 Building Regulation Standards for England and Wales

If you are constructing a dwelling the Approved Document L1A states that you must perform an air pressure test. 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. For developments where no more than two dwellings are constructed, it may be possible to avoid the need for any pressure testing by using an assumed value of 15m3/h/m2 within the DER/TER calculations. Your SAP assessor will be able to confirm if this is the case for your dwelling. The method for testing required by the building regulations is stated in ATTMA TSL1 (for dwellings) and ATTMA TSL2 (for non-dwellings). Air leakage testing is compulsory for residential areas and certain Non-Dwellings. 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.

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:

  • Level 1: Testers can test dwellings and non-dwellings up to 4000m3 gross envelope volume when tested as a single entity, with a single fan.
  • Second Level – Testing is done in buildings with 4000m3 and higher. Large high rise and phased handover buildings are excluded from the test except a level three tester is in charge.
  • Third Level – These experts carry out air tightness testing in large and complex high rise and phased handover buildings.

Air Pressure Test

Authorised companies, who test buildings of different types, sizes and complexities, give air tightness reports. Extraction fans will be sealed temporarily; the results of the test are recorded in a short report. This is done according to the testing organisation’s procedures and Building Regulation standards.

Outcome of Air Leak Test

AF Acoustics will make sure the result is written in line with test requirements, detect any part of the test that is not in line with the standards required and check actual air tightness against required rate. We make sure our report has the name of the building, customer, address and tester. If a building fails the test, we provide remedial suggestions before a retest is carried out.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

Please send your design air pressure figure to us and go through the list below before we arrive at your site.

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

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

Here are the appliances you should seal temporarily;

  • Cooker hoods
  • Extractor fans/MVHR terminals
  • Trickle vents
  • Chimney flues and air bricks

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)
Image module

Gerard Finn

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