Air Pressure Testing
The Air Tightness of new properties has required mandatory testing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since 2006. Similar regulations came into force in Scotland in 2010 – the initial regulations set in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were also revised in 2010. The regulations state that builders and developers must have a sample of new builds tested on any new housing or property development.
Put simply, the regulations have in place a figure for the maximum air permeability of a building. If a building’s air permeability falls above that figure, it will fail the Air Tightness Test. The aim of Air Tightness Testing is to help increase the energy efficiency of buildings across the board – in more technical terms, Air Tightness Testing is there to ensure the Design Emission Rate of a building is below the Target Emission Rate (anything above will fail, as previously mentioned).
Air Tightness Testing is required under different sections of building regulations – in England and Wales it’s required under Part L of the Building Regulations, specifically “The Conservation of Fuel and Power”. In Scotland, Air Tightness Testing is required under Section 6 of the Scottish Building Standards. In Northern Ireland Air Tightness Testing is required by Part F of the Northern Ireland Building Regulations.
Our service includes :
- Commercial, Industrial & Domestic Air Tightness Testing – as required by Part L of the Building Regulations.
- Pre – Test Site Inspection – This is undertaken at various stages during the construction.
- Finding Faults – We complete visual inspections. Thermographic Surveys and Smoke Testing can be undertaken in order to determine key leakage paths.
- Reviews – Design or Construction drawings will be reviewed and evaluated to identify potential building envelope leakage paths.
- Induction Seminars/On Site Training – One main method to reduce leakage rates is carrying out on-site seminars for the construction team. It is highly recommended that a training programme is allowed for all large projects.
Air Pressure Testing is not something that everyone will be familiar with, and as such we know that most people will have a number of questions about it. We have a few options for you if this is the case. You can either read through the questions and answers below, or you can ring us to speak to one of our highly trained members of staff. As promised though, below you will find some of the more common questions asked about Air Pressure Testing…
What Needs to Be Provided to Complete an Air Pressure Test?
A complete set of architectural drawings (floor plans, sections, elevations and site plan).
A SAP Calculation or Air Tightness Target (which is found in a SAP Calculation).
Why is Air Pressure Testing Needed?
Maintaining a high level of air tightness within a building greatly helps with the energy efficiency of the building. Air tightness testing is carried out in order to detect the loss of air from inside of a building, to the outside – and vice versa. Air coming in and out of a building can lead to poor energy efficiency, lost heat, and cold draughts.
Failing to maintain air tightness can lead to up to 40% of heat loss from within a building. If you’re investing in energy efficiency measures such as a new boiler or extra insulation, make sure you don’t forget about air tightness testing too – your efforts could be in vain if the building’s air tightness isn’t as high as it should be.
Building regulations are strict when it comes to air tightness – therefore it’s important to have an air tightness test completed on the property. This allows a figure to be put on the amount of air gained and lost – this figure can then be measured against what’s acceptable and what’s not in the eyes of the building regulations.
What Regulations Govern Air Pressure Testing?
Air pressure testing is governed by two different sets of regulations – Part L1A and Part L2A. Part L1A regulates all new dwellings, whereas Part L2A is the regulation used to govern air tightness in any building not classed as a dwelling, such as offices and public buildings. The compliance with these regulations is enforced by Building Control. In Scotland the regulation covering air testing is Section 6, while in Northern Ireland it is Part F.
Air pressure testing is also a component of both SAP assessments and SBEM assessments, both of which also have to be carried out on certain buildings. This is because SAP and SBEM both calculate, amongst other things, the size of a building’s carbon footprint, which is greatly affected by how airtight the building happens to be. You can find out more about SAP assessments and SBEM assessments by visiting their respective pages on this site.
What Happens if the Building Fails the Air Pressure Testing?
At UK Building Compliance, we want your building to pass, although we have to provide entirely accurate and honest results for every job. If your building does fail though, we will be able to help you with a number of measures to ensure that the process is a success next time. Some of the techniques we can employ to remedy the problems you might be suffering from include:
- Smoke Testing – We can fill the building with smoke, before then pressurising the whole building. This will then provide a visible indication of the areas of escape, as the smoke will be seen flowing through them. For less extreme situations, we can use devices known as “smoke pencils” to complete the task.
- Depressurisation – In order to complete the process, we will have to pressurize the whole building, therefore forcing air out through any gaps or cracks. When we depressurise though, draughts will be felt as the air rushes back into the room, giving an indication of where the air is escaping from in the first place.
- Thermography – It is also possible to use infra-red cameras to detect where the hottest and coldest spots are in the house, therefore providing yet another way to locate areas that are experiencing high levels of air loss. This is usually done at night, when the inside and outside temperatures are considerably different.
By providing you with assistance when your building fails the Air Pressure Testing, we ensure that you are not kept waiting for that all important completion certificate. Other companies simply test and then leave – we will stay until you get the result you want.
What are the Most Common Problems?
There are a number of different factors that can cause the air tightness of a building to be unsatisfactory. The most common areas of air leakage are:
- Behind fitted units, such as in the kitchen or bathroom.
- Where the external wall meets a floor.
- Around windows and doors that have not been sufficiently sealed.
- Around any pipework leading into the building.
- Around sockets and other electrical inputs.
Why Use Us?
UK Building Compliance has a long history of working with the building trade in order to assess all of the rules and regulations laid down by the authorities. This experience means that we have built a great reputation, with clients repeatedly returning to us to have more work completed for them. When you hire UK Building Compliance, you’ll be hiring a company that:
- Cares about its clients, always ensuring that their needs are met in both a timely and professional manner.
- Understands the regulations laid down in both Part L1A and Part L2A, both of which govern different aspects of the air pressure testing process.
- Gives clear and impartial advice on the ways to ensure that your development achieves the results desired – we are not affiliated with other companies, so we won’t ever recommend unneeded work.
- Offers a number of other services that might be of value to you – please see the bottom of this page for details.
Luckily, if these problems are located they can be corrected with a minimal amount of time and money. Of course, ensuring that they are installed correctly first time round will be the best option though!
Other Services to Consider
We also offer a number of other different services, some of which might be of use to you if you require air pressure testing. These services are:
- SAP Assessments – required by every new dwelling, in order to ensure that it satisfies requirements pertaining to environmental impact.
- SBEM Assessments – similar to SAP assessments, however they are for non-dwellings.
- Domestic EPCs – these must be issued to every new dwelling, or any dwelling about to be sold.
- Commercial EPCs – these must be issued to any commercial building upon completion or when it is being sold.
- Display Energy Certificates – these must be displayed in all public buildings, to show visitors how energy efficient the building is.
- Ventilation Testing – this ensures that a building’s ventilation is efficient and effective.
- U Value Calculations – these show how much heat is lost through different materials used in the construction of a building.