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Air tightness testing

Why Do You Need Air Leakage Testing?

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Date: Tue 23rd October 2018

If you've got air escaping from your home or commercial property, you need to know about it and be able to rectify the situation. Otherwise, you could be throwing away thousands of pounds a year on unnecessary heating. That's exactly where air leakage testing, also known as air pressure or air tightness testing, comes in.

What is air leakage?

Quite simply, air leakage is where conditioned air enters and then leaves a building through a variety of holes and cracks. Also known as infiltration, it's unlike ventilation as it is not entering or leaving the building in a controlled manner. As leaking air is completely uncontrolled, far too much air may enter or leave the property during cold or windy weather which will lead to excessive heat loss and over-use of heating equipment.

Air leakage is one of the major aspects of energy efficiency in buildings, meaning that air leakage testing is necessary to demonstrate that targets used in building energy calculations have been achieved. In fact, air tightness testing has been mandatory for most dwellings and commercial buildings since the 2006 Building Regulations.

Why test for air leakage?

As a key factor in building energy efficiency and one of the main aspects of the Government's initiatives in combating climate change through improvements in building energy performance, air leakage is becoming incredibly important. When you heat a building, no matter if residential or commercial, it involves the burning of fossil fuels, which in turn contributes towards CO2 emissions and global warming.

Quite simply, reducing air leakage reduces heat loss, which in turn reduces the amount that a heating system will be used throughout the year.

In addition, there are also some health issues relating to air tightness. When a building has poor or uncontrolled levels of ventilation and high levels of air leakage, it can cause excessive moisture and the growth of mould. This can then affect the occupier's health. 

It's also likely that high levels of air leakage will also lead to an ingress of moisture into the fabric of the building, leading to potentially expensive repair costs in the future.

Who do the building regulations affect?

Air leakage targets and testing has been gradually phased in over the years, so now it just about covers all new-build developments and dwellings. Back in 2002, Building Regulations only required commercial and industrial buildings with a floor area greater than 1000m2 to be tested for air tightness. However, in 2006 this was extended via Approved Document L2A of the Building Regulations so that it covered all sizes of industrial and commercial buildings. The Approved Document L1A also then introduced testing of new dwellings too.

How can you ensure you pass the air leakage test?

The best way that you can make sure you pass an air leakage test is by hiring a professional and experienced expert to take a look at your property and give you honest and impartial advice. At Tophouse Assessments, we are members of AECB and the Independent Air Tightness Testing Scheme and have a team of experienced engineers to help you meet the right target for your commercial or domestic building. Contact us today to discuss your building requirements and receive impartial and honest advice and guidance. 

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