Wimbledon-Park Air Tightness Testing Certified by AF-Acoustics

The measurement of air escaping from a building is called air tightness testing. It is also referred to as air permeability testing or air pressure testing. In 2006, Approved Document L was reviewed and building regulations for air permeability became more stringent. The test is presently a requirement for new buildings and reconstructions.

Because air leakage is the process whereby air escapes through any crack or hole in the building envelope and influences its energy performance, building regulations have been modified to ensure a building has adequate air tightness. 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 Wimbledon-Park. We also provide Part F mechanical extract fan flow rate testing, assessments and consultancy services.

As registered members of the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association, our air leakage test certificate is accepted as evidence for Building Regulations sign-off. Not only do we test the air permeability of your building, we describe the procedure in a professional manner and advise you on problem areas discovered during the evaluation. Our services provide great value for money at high standards.

Our Guarantee

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

What is Air Tightness Testing?

Air tightness testing is carried out to determine the volume of air escaping from holes in a building fabric. It is sometimes referred to as air leakage testing or 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). An excessive amount of uncontrolled air loss results in heat reduction, making the residents 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. With air tightness testing, you can determine whether or not air is leaking from a building’s envelope, the build quality and energy efficiency of new developments. The building regulations have made air tightness part of the building’s design from the beginning of the construction. This ensures that the fabric of a building is air tight. Understanding this at an early stage can make a build cost-effective, of high quality, and energy efficient by minimising uncontrolled air leakage.

Air Leakage

Air leakage is where air enters and leaves a building uncontrollably through cracks and holes in the building fabric. Also known as infiltration, it is different from ventilation, which is air that enters a building in a controlled manner. Because of the nature of air leakage, excessive air infiltration might occur in a building when the weather is windy and chilly. This results in loss of warmth and an unpleasant cold draughts. Air leakage testing plays a significant role in the energy-saving efficacy of properties. With air tightness testing, you can be sure that the building has met the stipulated targets used for energy calculation and air tightness. In 2006, air tightness of newly constructed buildings and non-dwellings with a floor area over 500m² became compulsory in England and Wales.

What Is 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. As cold seeps inside, warm moist air escapes through the cracks and gaps in the building. Some of it settles within the building’s fabric. Once the moist air reaches the colder internal layer of the wall structure, the vapour in it condenses and forms droplets of liquid, which drawn into building materials and can potentially start a multitude of structural problems. Wooden sheathing or overlay becomes wet, making it weak.

Over time, any of these conditions can cause structural damage.
Other impacts include:

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

These effects can be mitigated by controlling the circulation 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?

Air tightness is a key factor in building energy efficiency, and is a part of government-led initiative to combat climate change through improvements in building energy performance. Environmental change caused by carbon dioxide emissions and global warming is partly aided by the burning of fossil fuels to generate heat. A reduction in air leakage lessens the heat needed to keep a building warm. Poor degrees of ventilation and high levels of uncontrolled air leakage encourage mould growth and excessive moisture. This could potentially cause medical issues. Best practice advice is to “Build tight, ventilate right”. Excess air leakage leads to moisture in the building envelope, causing large repair expenses and medical issues because of mould.

When Do I Need 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. 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. Selective testing has a penalty of +2m3/h/m2. If target score is 5m3/h/m2, air tightness test score will have to be 3m3/h/m2.

If the building has not been tested for air tightness, assessed air permeability rate is the average result of similar buildings in the area +2m3/h/m2 at 50 Pa. Because selective testing does not conduct tests for all buildings, a tested building might have a much higher air tight rate than an untested building; making it unreliable. The 2m3/h/m2 penalty added to untested buildings makes the air permeability rate hard to achieve.

The reasons Why You Should 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 Wimbledon-Park. Our customers highly recommend us to other people due to the following benefits.

Helpful service and expert knowledge

Our vast experience in serving a variety of clients in Wimbledon-Park guarantees we have the expertise to satisfy your needs regardless your unique circumstances, type or size of property. We have competent and accredited air testing professionals who provide a quality, convenient service. AF Acoustics is the crew you need in Wimbledon-Park to give you the best solutions.

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

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

When Can You Call Us to Test Your Building?

We would like to give your building in Wimbledon-Park a thorough air leakage test whenever it is needed. We have responsive scheduling options. Schedule for your air leakage testing at your comfort. We guarantee no delays or complications regarding scheduling.

You Could Get Your Certificates on the Next Day

AF Acoustics offers trustworthy and expert services. We know that clients want to receive their test results quickly. As a result, we endeavour to deliver test certificates by the next day.

Affordable Prices

At AF Acoustics, we offer the most competitive prices in Wimbledon-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 Permeability Testing for Different Kinds of Commercial and Domestic Dwellings in Wimbledon-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. Air permeability testing calculates how much air moves through spaces in your building’s fabric. The results are written as The test results are described as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. of a building envelope.

Air tightness testing is recommended by Approved Document L1A and L2A. 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. With air leakage comes heat loss, greater CO2 discharge, draughts, thermal bypassing and wind washing and poor energy performance. Infiltration/exfiltration is the effect of air pressure difference. Warm air rises while cold air falls. The warm air within a building rises and air pressure at the base falls; this results in air coming in through doors, windows and leakage points. Air tightness testing is required by law for domestic buildings to ensure energy efficiency and comfort within the home environment. It is also a legal requirement that all new builds have an air tightness test carried out to meet energy efficiency standards before it can get signed off by building control in Wimbledon-Park. For your commercial building, air tightness testing will ensure your staff and clients are in a comfortable environment. It will also help you reduce the cost of maintaining heating or cooling in your commercial building, making it more productive.

The Part L Test

Since Approved Document L was reviewed in 2006, building regulations have demanded that new and rehabilitated constructions conduct air tightness test. Air tightness is also called air leakage rate or ‘air permeability’ rate. Any hole or crack in a building fabric is a spot where air leak can take place. Air leakage points are not often visible. 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. To comply with Part L the measured air permeability minimum requirement is 10m3/h/m2 but usually your air permeability target will be much lower. Air leakage affects the building’s energy performance and is required to meet Building Regulations Part L and measure up to the standard for low carbon buildings.

A Description of Part F Test

We will ensure that you exceed all the Parts L and F standards. With our organisation, you receive:

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

Approved Document F of the Building Regulations demands that all mechanical extract fans in newly completed constructions undergo a flow rate test. Building Control Body (BCB) will see proof that the test has been conducted before signing off your building. There are 3 available methods for examining, recording and reporting the testing of extract fans. Using a vane anemometer, our testing procedure follows Method 3 – The minimum benchmark method.


Different Ways We Test for Air Permeability

Air Tightness Testing has different tiers, depending on how complex a building is and its size. Find them below: A single blower door fan is used for air tightness testing for single buildings and smaller non-dwellings not more than 4000m3. Second Level – Testing is done for building 4000m3 and higher, typically simple and complex dwellings. High rise and phased handover buildings are not part of this test. Level 3: Air Pressure Testing for LCHR buildings, phased and zonal handover buildings is carried out.

We Offer Air Leakage Testing of Apartments and Houses to Meet Approved Document L1 Standard

The measurement of air emitted by a building is tested to determine air permeability rating. The test results are inscribed as m3/h/m2 – (m3 per hour) per square metre. Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L1A. 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. Excess air leakage causes heat loss and discomfort due to the influx of cold air, also causing increased energy bill expense.

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

An air leakage test is a test to determine the level of uncontrolled air flow through gaps or cracks in the fabric of a building. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of air pressure (m3 per hour) per square metre of building fabric. Document L2A of Building Regulations declares air leakage testing to be mandatory. The maximum air permeability rate for a dwelling tested is 10m3/h/m2. In order to comply with the SAP assessment, it may be necessary to achieve a lower air permeability rate. 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.

Testing the Smoke Shaft of Automatic Opening Vents

We test the integrity of the smoke shaft to ensure the automatic opening ventilation is placed in the best condition. 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. We’re committed to automatic opening vents builders’ target for air permeability. This enables the vents to work efficiently. The shaft is tested for air permeability by using a fan that is fixed inside it. The usual openings are closed off too so that the shaft’s integrity can be determined. 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 have the capacity to test 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. 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.

Air Tightness Test and Building Preparation Method

When a building is checked for the quantity of air flowing through the gaps in the fabric, it has undergone an air tightness test. The greater the air tightness of a building, the more comfortable the occupants are and the higher its energy performance.

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.

Requirements before the Test

Our test engineers would like to see the drawings (plans and elevations) and design air permeability requirements of your building before taking the test. 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. 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)

Measuring the Building’s Envelope

We undertake the building envelope calculations before we arrive on the site. The building envelope is the surface area of the thermal boundary of the building. The measurement is obtained from the construction drawings, and put in our calculations to conduct the test.

Envelope Area Air Permeability

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

Air Change Rate

Air change rates are often used as rules of thumb in ventilation design but they are seldom used as the actual basis of design or a calculation. The calculation of residential ventilation rates is dependent on the area of the homes and number of occupants.

Calculating the Envelope Area of a Cold Roof

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

Evaluating a Warm Roof Envelope Area

A warm roof is a roof system where the insulation is fixed along the rafters with an air barrier inside the insulation. 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.

Building Preparation

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

Process for Testing the building

Evaluate the weather (barometric pressure, wind speed and temperature) Place the fan on an aperture within the building envelope. Set up testing equipment. Using the fan, measure the air flow volume, from the building fabric. Raise the fan speed from 20-25Pa to the highest speed of 55-60Pa. At each fan speed, note the differences in air pressure in all the parts of the building.

Calculating 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. Testing for Air Tightness & Meeting Part L Standards

When a building has the right kind of ventilation (mechanical, natural or a combination of both) and has a low permeability rate, the advantages to the occupants are numerous. Some of them are: Lower heating bills due to less heat loss, with potentially smaller requirements for heating and cooling equipment capacities Your ventilation system will operate in a better way Lower levels of mould due to less moisture collecting in gaps and cavities. Fewer draughts and enhanced comfort Be assured that you’ll get a test that meets all the regulations and standards no matter how big or small your building is. Not only do we provide services that meet building regulation targets, when you employ our services, you’ll save money and spend less in the long run. We test for air permeability, provide consultancy services and support services and review the designs of all buildings, whether domestic or commercial, large or small.


Good and Best Practice Styles

When constructing a new building, it should be built air tight, as stated by Building Regulations – Approved Document L1A. Less fuel and power are consumed by buildings. Part L1A has demanded that all new dwellings be tested for air leaks in line with other regulations.

Measuring Air Permeability on Building Envelopes (Dwellings) – To Technical Standard L1

During air leakage tests, there are technical standards that must be used. This was mandated by ATTMA – Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association–to align with building regulations and other rules. The technical standards 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

Building Regulation for England and Wales, Part L 2010

If you are constructing a dwelling the Approved Document L1A states that you must perform an air pressure test. Those exceptions only occur when there are two or more dwellings in a development. Three units of a dwelling type or 50% of all examples of that dwelling type should be tested. 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. An SAP assessor can decide which buildings can use the assumed value successfully. There are different ways that Dwellings and Non-Dwellings should be tested. ATTMA TSL1 and ATTMA TSL2 have clearly stated these. Air leakage testing is required on all residential developments (this may be a sample of units) 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.

England and Wales: Building Regulations Part L

ATTMA has a competent scheme for air leakage testing firms which determines their level of competence. The scheme, which was launched in January 2015, is recognised by the government and noted in the building regulations. It is based on the performance criteria and knowledge requirements set out in the suite of National Occupation Standards (NOS) and under the requirements of the Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) document.

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.
  • 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.
  • Air tightness testing for phased, zonal handover, LCHR and multifaceted constructions is carried out by level three experts.

Air Tightness Test Report

Air leakage test reports are given by authorised organisations that test different buildings. First, extraction fans are closed. Then, the details and results of the tests are written down in a report. The organisation makes sure the report meets the company and government’s requirements.

Outcome of Air Leak 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. We will ensure the report correctly identifies the tester, customer, building and its address. Where it’s needed, we will identify if your building passed or failed the test and suggest ways to repair the building envelope before a retest is done.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

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

Air 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.