Air Pressure Testing

Leakage testing under Part L of the Building Regulations
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Air Testing -Building Regulations Part L

In 2006, the Building Regulations for new houses were amended to incorporate a new aspect -the testing of air leakage rates to ensure better energy performance. Tom Hanson of UK Air Testing explains what this is all about.

Almost every new domestic dwelling now requires an air test, otherwise known as a pressure test.  This part of the Building Regulations was introduced in June 2006 in an attempt to drive the standards of UK houses in line with EU standards.  47% of the UK's CO2 emissions comes from our homes, which is why air testing was introduced to eliminate the unnecessary loss of heat and ensure that we are heating our homes and not the environment.
A common reaction to air testing is; 'why do I have to have trickle vents and extractor fans then?'  The answer to this is you control them, where as you cannot control the loss of heat through the fabric of your property if you do not know it is happening.  A lot of the areas that leak in a house are not always noticeable to the naked eye; however they are identified during a test.
Companies such as UK Air Testing must be fully accredited by BINDT to carry out air tests and must use UKAS calibrated equipment.  A certificate will then be produced to display that a test has been carried out and that you have met the requirement necessary.  The requirement differs, however the building control standard is 10m3/per h/m2.  This is sometimes an area where people get confused.  The target for a dwelling will be what is stipulated in the 'design' of the SAP calculation that should be done at the start of the project.  The SAP calculation may require a target of 7 for example, which would mean that you would need to build the house more air tight than at a target of 10.  Companies such as UK Air Testing can also do these SAP calculations for you and act as a one stop shop.
The process of an air test will take on average 1-2 hours.  This does not include the calculation that must be done on the surface area of the property which will usually be done before an engineer arrives.  The engineer will use a fan to create a negative pressure difference on the property which will create a vacuum to suck air into the house (through gaps and cracks) and then out through the fan.  The fan will then read how much flow is travelling through it at a certain pressure difference.  These readings are then entered into a computer and a result can be obtained.
Tom Hanson

Further information:
(Part L) Conservation of fuel and power -Building Regulations Approved Document for conservation of fuel and power in new dwellings.

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