Air Tightness Testing

Air Tightness Testing is used to identify the areas that cause the drafts that blow over your shoulder when sitting by the fire. These drafts contribute considerably to heat loss in your home and therefore increase your heating cost and reduce your comfort. A standard house has an air tightness test result of between 7 to 10 Air changes per hour. This means that on a windy day the air in your house changes from warm air to cold air up to 10 times in 1 hour. This means that you have to heat the air 10 times in one hour. In other words if your air change rate was 1, you heat the air up to comfortable temperature once every hour and it will take 1 hour for that warm air to be replaced with cold air.

 

Typical house = air needs to be reheated every 6 minutes

 

Airtight House= air needs to be heated every 60 minutes

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What is Air tightness Testing?

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Air Tightness Testing is the method used for testing for draughts or air leakage in your home. Draughts contribute significantly to the amount of heat loss in your home but more importantly they cause discomfort. Air tightness test identify the areas where the cold air is getting in and where the warm air is getting out.

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I am building a new house do I need an Air-tightness Test done?

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Under the 2011 Building regulations all new house must have an air-tightness test carried out in order to show compliance to Part L of the building regulations. Part L of the Building regulations deals with the Conservation of fuel and Energy and requires that all new houses have a maximum air leakage rate of 7m3/hr/m2. This maximum rate is not very ambitious and most people are now trying to exceed the maximum to get figures down to 3m3/hr/m2 or below. It is widely recognised that a draughty house is an uncomfortable house and expensive to heat.

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How is an air tightness test carried out?

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Air testiness testing is carried out using a blower door kit. A fan is sealed in to the external door of your house. The fan is used to blow air in to the house to create positive pressure in the house. Using a smoke pen, any leaks are highlighted as the smoke can be seen seeping out through the leaks in your home. The air is then blown out of your house. This causes negative pressure in the house so cold air is drawn in from all the leakage areas. These leakage areas can be clearly seen using a thermal imaging camera.

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How long does an Air-tightness Test Take?

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Depending on the size of the building and the level of air leakage an air tightness test may take between 3 to 6 hours. Passive House Solutions take the time to ensure that the client get the best air tightness test possible. This means running a preliminary test prior to the main test to identify any obvious areas of leakage which can be sealed before the final test is carried out.

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When the Air tightness test is complete will I know if I have complied with part L of the Building Regulations?

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When the test is completed you will know the level of air tightness that the building has achieved and whether or not it complies with that section of the building regulations. However this is only one area of compliance that you must meet. The results of the pressure test are used when carrying out your final BER assessment. The BER Assessment will determine if the overall building complies with Part L of the building regs. This is demonstrated with a Part L Compliance Cert

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What happens if I don’t get an Air Tightness Test

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All buildings are required by law to comply with the building regulations. If a building does not comply the owners may find it difficult to sell the house in the future as there will be no sign off on the house to say it is compliant. Another area where people are getting in to bother is for drawing down stage payments on their mortgage. The bank will look for a certificate of compliance from the homeowner and will not release the stage payments until it is presented.

Air Tighness Testing is only one area that needs to comply so it is critical that a provisional BER is carried out as early as possible to ensure that the overall design meets the current building regulations

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How much does an Air tightness Test cost?

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The cost of an air tightness test can vary considerably depending on the size of a building and the level of involvement required from the assessor. Passive house solutions offer a complete package which includes the provisional BER Cert, advice on how to comply with part L, Final BER Cert, Air tightness test prior to slabbing advice on improving the air tightness and final air tightness test when the house is finished. This service delivers independent advice and supervision on the job from a trained professional with energy conservation as his primary objective.

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How do I get fresh air in an Air tight House?

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When an airtightness test is carried out all natural ventilation openings are blocked up so the air tightness test is really only testing for uncontrolled leakage areas around the house. The main areas of concern are around windows and doors, under window boards, sockets and switches, recessed lights, services penetrations from the outside, attic hatches and where ceiling joists are built in to external walls.

When the test is completed the vents in the walls are opened to allow the fresh air in. If you do not want open vents in your walls Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery is a more efficient way to ventilate your home.

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What is Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery?

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Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery is a method of ventilating your home without the need for big holes in your walls. Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery works particularly well in an air tight house as it exercises complete control over the level of ventilation in your home. The system operates by extracting the warmth from the stale air being taken from the house and using it to heat the cold air entering the house. This eliminates the problems of cold draughts as the fresh air coming in to the house is at a much higher temperature.

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