Oxford 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. 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. Our certificates are registered with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), an organisation that guarantees technical excellence in all air leakage measurement methods. Located in Oxford, our company is a committed and accredited air permeability testing service provider; we provide air testing services. You can also contact us for assessments and consultancy services. In addition to air leakage testing, we provide Part F Mechanical extract fan flow rate testing.

Our air leakage test certificate is approved by ATTMA and is an indication that a building has been signed off by building control. If you want specialist air pressure testing services in Oxford, AF Acoustics’ tightness testing services will

  • Describe the process to you,
  • Highlight possible problem areas that might occur during testing,
  • Conduct the air tightness test, and
  • Give advice on improvements based on the outcome of the test.

Our goal is always value for money and customer satisfaction. We are professionals and our services are of the highest quality.

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?

When a building is assessed during an air tightness test; the internal thermal envelope of the building is examined for leakages and the quantity of air passing through it. Air leakage and air pressure are also used in place of air tightness. While the normal restrained movement of air all through a building is called ventilation, the unchecked movement of air through cracks and gaps in a building is air leakage; also known as draught or infiltration. Air leakage is uncontrolled ventilation. Air tightness testing is the approved method for gauging the entire air that has leaked through a building fabric. When too much air leaks through a building’s fabric, heat loss occurs, making the occupants uncomfortable. As Government strives to reduce CO2 emissions from new buildings, building regulations now place greater emphasis on reducing air leakage from the building envelope. This reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. 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 introduction of tougher regulations has led to the construction of high-quality buildings. Building designs employ air tightness procedures from the early part of construction, creating a building that has adequate air tightness built into its design. 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 occurs when air escapes through holes and gaps in a building. It is also referred to as infiltration and is the opposite of ventilation which involves well managed circulation of air in a building. Once the atmosphere is windy, draughts infiltrate the building through holes in the fabric, leading to heat reduction and discomfort. How do you know if a building is energy efficient? By testing its air permeability. This lets the occupants know if the building meets standard air-tightness requirements. 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 Are the Problems Air Leakage Can Cause?

Heat loss within a building can be caused by air leakage. Once the atmosphere is cold and windy, unwanted chilly air infiltrates the building through gaps, leading to heat reduction. The infiltration of chilly air causes exfiltration, making warm air within the building escape through the spaces in other parts of the building. The water vapour in the moist air condenses on the inner wall surface holes. After a while, it is absorbed into building materials and diffuses, causing potential structural problems. Wet wooden overlay or framing can decay, decreasing its durability.

These problems will eventually cause structural harm to the building.
Other impacts include:

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

The best way to reduce the harmful effect of moisture is to efficiently control how air moves into and out of the building. An adequately installed air barrier reduces air leakage and condensation of water vapour on inner wall layers. Correct ventilation is important, whether it is passive or active, to remove water vapour, unwanted moisture odour and pollutants.


The Importance of Air Tightness Test

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. Home heating involves burning up fossil fuel which produces carbon dioxide and aids 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. Building tightly and ventilating the right way is highly recommended. High degrees of air leaks cause huge problems such as expensive remedial work on the building and medical problems.

When Should an Air Tightness Test Be Done?

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. Newly completed constructions’ energy ratings can be influenced by the test results, as they are used in SAP and SBEM calculations. Individual property is not tested in a large residential development. The test is done on different types of houses within the area. 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?

Numerous businesses and home owners have been aided by AF Acoustics air tightness testing proficient skills in Oxford. We are recommended by our clients for the following reasons.

Helpful service and expert knowledge

Our vast experience in serving a variety of clients in Oxford guarantees we have the expertise to satisfy your needs regardless your unique circumstances, type or size of property. Our accredited air testing experts are polite and competent. They are trained to provide the service you need and fit around your project. Our personnel will use their expertise to provide lasting solutions. Contact AF Acoustics in Oxford –the right team for your building.

Registered by the Leading Air Tightness Body in UK

We are registered with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), an organisation that is centred on technical excellence in all air leakage measurement methods. ATTMA, the leading air leakage testing body in the UK, has recognised the quality of our services.

When to Call Us to Test Your Building

We would like to give your building in Oxford a thorough air leakage test whenever it is needed. We offer responsive scheduling. Schedule for your building to be tested at your convenience. You won’t get delays or difficulties when scheduling.

Next-day Turnaround on Test Certificate Where Possible

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 fees are lower since we’re a company with low overheads. Our services are professional and we offer affordable prices in Oxford.

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

Air Tightness Tests for Any Kind of building in Oxford

Whatever the type and size of a domestic or commercial building in Oxford, AF Acoustics’ experts can test it for air permeability and issue an ATTMA certificate afterwards. An air leakage test is used to determine the level of uncontrolled air flow through gaps or cracks in the fabric of a building. The result of the air leakage test is expressed as a quantity in the form of 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. 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. 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 permeability testing is a legal requirement for constructions in Oxford. This way, they can have high energy performance, meet building regulations requirements and get signed off by building control. With air leakage tests, business areas are more comfortable for employees and customers. In addition, you get lower heating and cooling costs. A comfortable environment results in a higher productivity rate.

What Is Part L Test?

Air tightness testing has been a compulsory part of the Building Regulations for new dwellings, renovations and commercial projects since the revision of Document L in 2006. 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. The Building Regulations (Part L) demand that a selected group of different kinds of residential constructions and all non-domestic buildings greater than 500m2 perform air leakage tests. To comply with Part L the measured air permeability minimum requirement is 10m3/h/m2 but usually your air permeability target will be much lower. Air tightness is important for meeting the Building Regulations Part L standards, exceeding requirements for low carbon buildings, and overall energy efficiency.

What Is Part F Test?

All your Part L and Part F testing requirements can be met by us. 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 requires that all mechanical extract fans in new dwellings be subjected to a flow rate test. The Building Control Body (BCB) has to see the results of the test as part of its sign-off procedure. You can test, document and report the test of your building’s extractor fans in three ways. Using a vane anemometer, our testing procedure follows Method 3 – The minimum benchmark method.


Forms of Air Pressure Testing Services We Provide

There are several levels of air leakage testing based on the kind, size and multifaceted aspects of a dwelling. Here they are: 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

Air pressure testing, involves the calculation of air escaping through openings in a building. The result is expressed as a quantity in the form of m3 per hour, per square metre of building fabric. Air tightness testing is required for new builds. A lower air permeability rate might be needed due to carbon emission requirements. 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

The measurement of air emitted by a building is tested to ascertain air permeability rating. The test results are inscribed using m3 per hour per square metre. Part L2A of Building Regulations has demanded that such tests be conducted. The results of air permeability rate should not exceed 10m3/h/m2. The SAP or SBEM assessment for all buildings reduces the air permeability rate target. The design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment of a construction records its required air permeability rate. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and draught.

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 help storey buildings dispel smoke when there is a fire. For the vents and fans to operate at the expected level, the smoke shaft must be air tight to create a difference in air pressure and give emergency services when needed. To ensure that automatic opening ventilations work properly, their manufacturers have placed an air permeability target for them which we work towards. Fans are placed in the smoke shaft to conduct an air tightness test. The openings for ventilation grilles and extract points on each floor are closed so that the state of the shaft itself is known. Once the test is completed and successful, the automatic opening vents are installed.

We Offer Extraction Fan Testing

The mandate to construct well insulated and air tight buildings, has made it crucial for satisfactory, enhanced and balanced ventilation systems to be installed. Extract fans are tested by us. This is done to meet the Building Regulations standard. Make sure the ventilation system is efficient, expels pollutants and odours, and reduces humidity, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Another of such targets, as stated by Part F, is to have the standard intermittent extractor fans, like kitchen and bathroom extractors, in new constructions measured for air flow and results given to Building Control before the construction work is completed.

Precise Air Pressure Test and Building Procedure

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.

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. To ensure that the air tightness of a building is optimal, gaps and spaces in the building have to be found and measured.

Under the new policies of building developments, the lowest number of domestic buildings developers have to test in an area is 20%. However, this depends on the quantity of different house kinds to ensure there is a regular sample throughout the survey. We advise that all buildings undergo air pressure testing as there is a penalty for those that don’t.

Pre-Test Requirements

The client needs to send our test engineers the drawings of the development (plans and elevations) and target air permeability requirements. An Air tightness test can be done in 30 – 60mins. Wind speed should not exceed 6m/s. Test engineers need to know the size of a building envelope and requirements before coming to the site. In preparing the site to create an air-tight environment:

  • Turning off all range stoves and cookers (if applicable)
  • Turning off mechanical vents
  • Shutting all windows and external doors
  • Sealing ventilation grids and smoke vents
  • Filling the drainage stops

Measuring the Building’s Envelope

We conduct building envelope calculations prior to the test. The building envelope is the surface area of the thermal boundary of the building. The calculations, which are extracted from the drawings, are fed into our estimations when testing your building for air leaks.

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 Exchange Rate

Although hardly used as a major deciding factor for calculation or design, air exchange rate is vital in ventilation design. Residential ventilation rates are measured based on the number of inhabitants and area of residence.

Evaluating a Cold Roof 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 the thermal insulation put in the ceiling with wide space between the insulation and pitched roof 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. In the warm part of the insulation, is the barrier between the conditioned and unconditioned space.

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);

How the Test Is Done

Measure the weather conditions. Check the temperature, barometric pressure and wind speed. Fix a fan to an aperture, usually the door, in the building. Fix the instrument for testing. Using the fan, measure the air flow volume, from the building fabric. Gradually increase the speed of the fan to a maximum of 55-60Pa. Note the difference in air pressure in several parts of the building at each fan speed.

Measuring air leakage

We analyse the air tightness test data, point out any air leakage path and send a report to clients. If the building fails the test, we suggest remedial measures to the client. Air Pressure Testing & Compliance

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: The occupants will pay less for heat because less heat is lost and they won’t need equipment with high heating 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 From a single dwelling to the largest commercial development, we offer stress-free compliance measurements to Part L Building Regulations and Building Standards. Our services include: air pressure testing, support services, re-examining designs and consultancy for all buildings in Oxford. We are cost effective and adhere to all building regulations.


Good and Best Practice Standards

When constructing a new building, it should be built air tight, as stated by Building Regulations – Approved Document L1A. This regulation was put in place to conserve fuel and power. Part L1A states that new dwellings should be tested for air tightness in accordance with existing regulations.

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

ATTMA has specified technical standards that must be adhered to while testing buildings in the UK, according to building regulations and other documents. This Technical Standard provides detailed guidance and clarification of 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”, in order to ensure consistency by testing companies.

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. 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 let you know if you can do this for your building. There are different ways that Dwellings and Non-Dwellings should be tested. ATTMA TSL1 and ATTMA TSL2 have clearly stated these. Air tightness tests are to be carried out on all residential developments (all the buildings or a selected group) and all 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 Regulation Requirements Part L (England and Wales)

Most competent air pressure testing companies go through the ATTMA scheme, which began in January 2015, etence. The scheme is endorsed by the government and recognised by approved documents L1 and L2 of building regulations. It mirrors the operation standards and skill requirements set by the National Occupation Standard (NOS) and the Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) document.

Air leakage testers have three levels

  • Level One: Testing for the air pressure of single buildings and smaller non-dwellings of 4000m3 gross envelope area and below, is done with a single fan.
  • Air tightness testing is done in all dwellings but big phased handover/zonal and high rise (LCHR) constructions are not included except a level three tester is the head of the team.
  • Level Three: Testing for the air pressure of high rise (LCHR) buildings, phased handover/zonal buildings and other complex buildings is carried out by level three experts.

Air Tightness Test Report

Air leakage test reports are given by authorised organisations that test different buildings. Sealed extraction fans are sealed for testing and the details and results of the test are written in a report afterwards. The organisation makes sure the report meets the company and government’s requirements.

Test Outcomes

We analyse our tests and results for any divergence from the standards required and check the air pressure rate against target rate. That way, our results are expressed in line with test standards. 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

Go through the list below and send the design air testing permeability value to us before we get to the site.

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

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

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.