Staines-upon-Thames Air Tightness Testing Certified by AF-Acoustics

Air tightness testing, also known as air leakage testing or air permeability testing, establishes the rate at which air flows out of gaps in a building fabric. 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 certificates are registered with the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA), an organisation that guarantees technical excellence in all air leakage measurement methods. We are dedicated and accredited air leakage testing service providers in Staines-upon-Thames and we are available to provide you with testing services whenever required. 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. 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. Our customers get greater value for money spent, and our testing services are of superior 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 It Means

Air tightness testing is a technique whereby a newly constructed building is evaluated and the quantity of air leaking through is measured. Air tightness testing is also known as air pressure testing or air leakage testing. 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. Draughts are uncontrolled ventilation. Using air tightness testing, the total air lost can be estimated. 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. This can make a building more energy efficient since air leakage is under control. It will also be cost effective and of high quality.

Air Leakage, what Is It?

Air leakage is where air enters and leaves a building uncontrollably through cracks and holes in the building fabric. Also called infiltration, it differs from ventilation which is the regular, planned and restrained flow of air into 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. Air tightness testing is compulsory for all new constructions and non dwellings with a floor area over 500m² in England and Wales. This came into effect in 2006.

Air Leakage’s Resulting Outcomes

Heat loss within a building can be caused by air leakage. When the weather is cold and windy, unwanted air seeps into a building through the holes and cracks in its fabric, causing heat loss and discomfort. Movement of moist air into cavities in other parts of the building also occur. This process is called exfiltration. The warm air is filled with moisture, which hits the inner wall surface and condenses. Moisture is sucked into the building material, and this can lead to serious structural issues. Wooden sheathing or overlay becomes wet, making it weak.

Over time, any of these conditions can cause 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. An adequately installed air barrier reduces air leakage and condensation of water vapour on inner wall layers. Correct ventilation, whether passive or active, ensures fresh air circulates through the building, eliminating water vapour, moist odour and polluting substances.


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. Heating buildings contribute to global warming and CO2 emissions, since fossil fuels are used to create heat. A reduction in air leakage lessens the heat needed to keep a building warm. Uncontrolled air leakage also results in health problems. Coupled with poor air circulation, it leads to the growth of mould and mildew. A great option would be to build tight and ventilate right. High levels of air leakage can lead to moisture ingress into the building fabric, resulting in expensive repair costs and potential health problems due to mould.

When Your Building Needs an Air Tightness Test

A building should ideally be air tightness tested early in the construction process and again at the end of the building project, although sometimes only the final check is carried out. The test results are used in SAP and SBEM calculations, this impacts the energy rating of new building. Individual property is not tested in a large residential development. The test is done on different types of houses within the area. This type of testing attracts a penalty of +2m3/h/m2, consequently, if the target result is 5m3/h/m2, a lower score of 3 would have to be attained.

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. Selective testing is not advisable, as it does not give a realistic picture of the air tightness of each individual building. A tested property might be a lot tighter than an untested property. Also, the penalty implemented on the untested houses make air permeability rates very difficult to achieve.

The reasons Why You Should Choose AF Acoustics for Your Air Tightness Testing

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

Helpful service and information

Our experience in serving diverse customers in Staines-upon-Thames is proof of our ability to satisfy your requirements no matter the size and type of building, or your circumstance. 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. If you need knowledgeable and trustworthy air leakage experts who can provide exemplary results, AF Acoustics is the team you need in Staines-upon-Thames.

Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA) Registered

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 want you to be able to access comprehensive air tightness testing in Staines-upon-Thames whenever you need it. We offer responsive scheduling options. You can schedule for air tightness testing at your convenience. There won’t be delays or complications once you’ve fixed a time.

Quick Turnaround on Test Certificates Where Possible

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.

Competitive Charges

AF Acoustics fees are lower since we’re a company with low overheads. Our services are professional and we offer affordable prices in Staines-upon-Thames.

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 Staines-upon-Thames

Regardless of the size, type, or complexity of your domestic or commercial building in Staines-upon-Thames, we can provide you with air tightness testing, carried out by an experienced and professional air tightness tester and issue you a certified ATTMA certificate. You can find out how much uncontrolled ventilation your building has by testing it for air leakages. The result 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 building fabric.

Air tightness testing is recommended by Approved Document L1A and L2A. Although your building is required to have a rating result of 10m3/h/m2, the actual result might have to be lower than that due to carbon emission requirements. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP assessment or SBEM. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss (and consequently, higher CO2 emissions) and discomfort. It can also create convective loops within a building; this is often referred to as thermal bypassing and wind washing. Exfiltration/infiltration of air is caused by a stack effect. Due to the pressure difference inside and outside the building, rising warm air reduces the pressure in the base of the building and draws in air, whether through open doors, windows or other openings and leakage points. In Staines-upon-Thames, the law demands that all new buildings be tested for air pressure before they can be approved and signed off by building control. This enables dwellings achieve energy efficiency standards. For your commercial building, air tightness testing will ensure your staff and clients are in a comfortable environment. Heating and cooling expenses are also reduced and the environment is more productive.

The Part L Test

In 2006, Approved Document L was reviewed and building regulations for air permeability became tighter. The air tightness test is presently a requirement for new buildings and reconstructions. Air tightness is also called air leakage rate or ‘air permeability’ 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. Part L of the Building Regulations requires that all commercial buildings greater than 500m2 undergo air tightness testing and a selection of residential buildings in a development be tested. To adhere to Part L, make sure your building’s air permeability rate is not greater than 10m3/h/m2. Air tightness is important for meeting the Building Regulations Part L standards, exceeding requirements for low carbon buildings, and overall energy efficiency.

A Description of Part F Test

We can complete all your Part F and Part L testing 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. Building Control Body (BCB) will see proof that the test has been conducted before signing off your building. Extractor fans can be tested and recorded, and test reports submitted using 3 methods. Using a vane anemometer, our testing procedure follows Method 3 – The minimum benchmark method.


Different Ways We Test for Air Permeability

There are several levels of air leakage testing based on the kind, size and multifaceted aspects of a dwelling. Here they are: Level One: Testing for the air pressure of single buildings and smaller non-dwellings of 4000m3 gross envelope volume and below, a single blower door fan is used. The second level examines simple and complex buildings greater than 4000m3, with the exclusion of large zonal buildings and complex high rise (LCHR) 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

Air pressure testing, involves the calculation of air escaping through openings in a building. The result is written as m3 per hour per square metre of building. Air pressure testing is compulsory, according to Approved Document L1A. A building has to achieve a lower rate to meet the carbon dioxide emission target. The required rate can be found in a building’s design-stage SAP assessment SBEM. Too much air leakage leads to heat loss which can lead to draughts and higher energy bills.

Commercial Building Testing as Required by Approved Document L2A

Air tightness testing determines the extent of air leaking from a building’s envelope. The test results are inscribed using m3 per hour per square metre. Air leakage testing is a requirement of Approved Document L2A. Each building tested must achieve a maximum air permeability rate of 10m3/h/m2. In order to comply with the SAP assessment, it may be necessary to achieve a lower air permeability rate. You can find the required air permeability rate of your building in its design-stage SAP or SBEM assessment. Air leakage causes heat loss, increased energy bills, greater CO2 emissions, and an uncomfortable atmosphere for inhabitants due to draughts.

Testing the Smoke Shaft of Automatic Opening Vents

Smoke shaft needs to be tested because its air tightness determines the performance of the automatic opening vent fitted on it. Our professionals perform the test. Smoke needs to be cleared out in the event of a fire. The automatic opening ventilation is a vital aspect of the fire strategy for high rise buildings. An air tight shaft creates sufficient pressure difference and ensures that the fans and vents perform properly to draw out smoke from a dwelling and save its occupants. With the right air permeability rate, the vents can operate at their best. We aim for the air permeability rate set by the vent manufacturers. The shaft undergoes air leakage testing when fans are placed inside it. The openings for ventilation grilles and extract points on each floor are closed so that the state of the shaft itself is known. This test is conducted before the automatic opening ventilation is fixed and commissioned.

Domestic Ventilation Air Flow Testing (Extract Fans)

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 have the capacity to test extraction rates. 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.

Explicit Test and Building Preparation Process

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

External claddings and the internal building finishes might obscure a gap in the building fabric. This makes it hard to notice and can results to potential air leakage. 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. We recommend that all dwellings be tested, as there is a penalty for developments that are not tested.

Pre-Test

Send the drawings of your dwelling (plans and elevations) and its target air permeability requirements to our test engineers. 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. To prepare the site for the test, do the following:

  • Seal and turn off all ventilation, smoke vents and mechanical ventilation systems
  • Close the windows and open internal doors
  • Fill drainage traps
  • Switch off range stoves/cookers 24 hours before the test

Building Envelope Calculations

We undertake building envelope measurements before getting to the dwelling for the test. The building envelope is the physical separator between the indoors and outdoors. The building envelope calculations are taken from the drawings and used for our air tightness testing.

Air Permeability from the Envelope Area

It is defined as air leakage rate per hour per square metre of envelope area at the test reference pressure differential of 50 pascals (50n/m2). The envelope area, or measured part of the building, is 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. The calculation of residential ventilation rates is dependent on the area of the homes and number of occupants.

Cold Roof Envelope Area Measurement

This is essential to determine if the roof area is the same as the ground floor area. A cold roof has its insulation at the ceiling level, with space between the insulation and rafters.

Calculating the Envelope Area of a Warm Roof

In a warm roof, the main insulation is placed below the roof covering. The envelope area, found at the insulation’s warm side, is the separator between the conditioned internal aspect and the unconditioned.

Building readiness

To get the building ready, close and secure all internal doors, windows, Temporarily seal vents and smoke vents. Also fill drainage traps.

Site Test Procedure

Check weather conditions (wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure); Connect a fan to an opening, like the door, in the building fabric. Fix the instrument for testing. Record the air volume flow passing through the fan. Gradually increase the speed of the fan to a maximum of 55-60Pa. At each fan speed, note the differences in air pressure in all the parts of the building.

Evaluating Air Leakage

We can determine where air leakage is occurring through our test procedure. Once the test has been completed, we crosscheck the data and send a report to you. If the test fails, we will advise you about corrective measures. Air Tightness Testing and 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: Lower energy costs and need for heating appliances due to a higher level of heat retention. Your ventilation system will operate in a better way Reduced chance of mould and rot, as moisture is less likely to become trapped Fewer draughts and enhanced comfort 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. Our services include: air pressure testing, support services, re-examining designs and consultancy for all buildings in Staines-upon-Thames. We are cost effective and adhere to all building regulations.


Good & Best Practice Methods

When constructing a new building, it should be built air tight, as stated by Building Regulations – Approved Document L1A. The regulation helps to reduce the use of fuel and power. Part L1A further makes it obligatory for new buildings to be tested for air permeability in line with existing building standards.

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

There are technical standards for air tightness test of buildings in the UK detailed by Air Tightness Test and Measurement Association (ATTMA). The technical standards ensure that all companies have similar testing procedures. They are:

  • “Thermal Performance of Buildings. Determination of air permeability of buildings. Fan pressurisation method” BS EN 13829:2001, and
  • “Thermal performance of buildings – Determination of permeability of buildings – Fan pressurization method” ISO 9972:2015
Call us today for a quote on 020 3372 4430
Or you can email us at info@af-acoustics.com

Building Regulation Part L 2010 (England and Wales)

Test for air permeability must be conducted on your new constructions. This is stated in Approved Document L1A. Where there are two or more new buildings in an area, conduct a test on 50% of all examples of a kind of dwelling or 3 units of a dwelling kind. Where there are only one or two new buildings, add an assumed value of 15m3/h/m2 to the DET/TER measurements; an air tightness test may not need to be carried out. Find out from your SAP assessor if this is applicable to you. 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. Buildings with a floor area of less than 500 m2 might not have to take the test. Where air tightness testing is not done, an assumed air permeability rate of 15 m3/h/m2 is used.

England and Wales: Building Regulations Part L

ATTMA has a scheme for air leakage test organisations, which commenced in January 2015. The scheme was approved by the government and is stated in Technical Standard L1 and L2. Its basis is the National Occupation Standard (NOS) and Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) documents standard for testing and essentials for testing knowledge.

Air tightness testers can be divided into three categories

  • Air tightness testing for single buildings and smaller non-dwellings not more than 4000m3 is done with a 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.
  • Third Level – These experts carry out air tightness testing in large and complex high rise and phased handover buildings.

Report for Air Leaks Test

Air tightness reports are issued by accredited firms that carry out air permeability tests on buildings of different sizes or complexities. Temporary sealing of extraction units will be done by the tester; all test results will be noted, and a shortened form report will be written which will include the findings of the test. The organisation makes sure the report meets the company and government’s requirements.

Air Tightness Test Results

Our test and subsequent results are conducted and written to meet standard requirements, highlight any deviation from the standards and crosscheck air pressure values against target values. Our reports correctly note the client, air tightness tester, building and address. We will state if your building has passed or failed the test and give advice on the actions you need to take if another test is needed.

Resources Air Tightness Checklist – Building

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

Air 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)

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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.