Why is Air Tightness Testing Important?

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The construction of any new building – whether it be for domestic or commercial purposes – has to comply with a range of requirements set out by the authorities. These cover elements including fire safety, energy efficiency, dimensions, sound insulation, waste water systems and more.

There are also regulations relating to air tightness testing. But what exactly is it, why is it important and how are these tests carried out? Read on to find out more.

What is Air Tightness Testing?

The idea of an air tightness test, also known as an air pressure test, is to work out how much air escapes from a building – be it through the walls, ceiling, doors, windows or floor. It forms a crucial part of maximising the energy efficiency of any structure and if needed, steps can then be taken to address any issues that are identified. Air tightness testing falls within the Building Regulations 2010.

How is Test Performed?

Large fans are brought in to pressurise or depressurise empty buildings and specialist equipment is used to measure the pressure differential between inside and outside. Readings are then taken to calculate the amount of air escaping.

Why is it Important?

Any small gaps in a building are hard to pick up with the naked eye, which is why an air pressure test is required. If significant leaks were to go undetected, it could lead to major heat loss, which could have a number of knock-on effects. For example, in a residential dwelling, the inhabitants may suffer uncomfortable living conditions – especially in the cold winter months. This could even affect their physical health.

In order to counter the loss of warm air, the residents may have their heating on higher and for longer, which will cost more money. On top of that, any heating system being forced to work harder is bound to emit increased levels of carbon dioxide, so there will be a negative impact on the environment too.

Does Your Building Need One?

That will depend on the size of the building and, if it is part of a wider development, the size of that project. For example, any new-build residential property over 500 square metres must undergo a test before it can be put on the market.

If it is a small development of two homes that are built to the same specifications, one of those must be tested. If they have been constructed differently, they both need to undergo a test. And with bigger developments, a certain percentage of the properties will need to be assessed. This will vary depending on the scale of the development.

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