Month: March 2023

Room Integrity Testing FAQ’s

Room Integrity Testing FAQ’s

Room Integrity Testing Frequently Asked Questions
To try and explain what’s involved in a room integrity test, we have written the following question and answers article:

Q – Why do I need a room integrity test?

A – The test is a requirement of the British Standard for gaseous fire extinguishing systems – BS EN: ISO 14520. Most fire insurers will require evidence that the test has been conducted and the result is satisfactory.

Q – How quickly can a room integrity test be arranged?

A – We can usually undertake a room integrity test within a few days of our client’s inquiry; however, in the case of an emergency, we do offer a 24-hour service.

Q – How do I prepare my protected enclosure for the integrity test?

A – We send out an informative checklist with all our quotations, to help clients prepare for the integrity test.

Q – How long does it take to carry out a room Integrity test?

A – The room integrity test is usually between 1 and 2 hours for a single enclosure.

Q – Will the enclosure integrity test set off alarms?

No, the enclosure test is completely independent of the detection system; however, the room should be isolated and the system turned to manual in line with our room integrity checklist.

Q – Is the room integrity test disruptive?

A – No, it is only necessary to stop access to the room for 10-15 minutes. Personnel – such as IT staff can continue to work in the room. The enclosure test can be paused if immediate access becomes required.

Q – Does equipment such as servers need to be switched off during the room integrity test?

A – No, the servers can carry on running throughout the room integrity test.

Q – Does air conditioning need to be switched off during the enclosure integrity test?

A – Recirculation (chiller) units may continue to run. Air supply/extract ducts passing into the enclosure will need to have the fire dampers closed and/or be temporarily sealed throughout the duration of the test.

Q – Will I get a certificate if I pass the room integrity test?

A – Yes, the certificate will be issued within a few days. This should be retained for possible inspection by the authorities/insurers. We will verbally let you know if the enclosure test has passed or failed whilst on site.

Q – What happens if the room fails the room integrity test?

A – A low-impact smoke test can be undertaken along with a corresponding report to identify the air leakage paths for remedial sealing.  Once the remedial works have been undertaken a retest must be conducted to confirm the adequacy of the retention time along with the corresponding pass certification.

Q – Can remedial sealing be done at the time of the enclosure test if its initially failed?

A – Yes, provided the leakage can be swiftly remedially, or temporarily, sealed.

Q – Does APT undertake remedial sealing?

Yes, we can undertake the remedial sealing if so required, or the client can arrange the works themselves.

Q – How often should the room integrity test be done?

A – The relevant British Standard (BS EN: ISO 14520) specifies that the test should be conducted within a 12-month period and/or if any works have been undertaken to the enclosure envelope i.e., new service penetrations are made to the walls, floors, or ceilings.

Q – Is there any corresponding standards for room integrity testing?

A – Yes, the following standard applies to room integrity testing: ISO 14520, NFPA 2001, and ISO 15004

Room Integrity Testing Equipment

Why use us for your room integrity test?

We offer a friendly and cost-effective one-stop solution for all your integrity test requirements. Using the very latest blower door technology, we provide thorough retention reports as well as informative assessments concerning highlighting areas of leakage, advice, and recommendations. We even offer a remedial sealing service should it be required.

If you would like more information on our server room integrity testing, please call us on 01525 303 905 or visit us at or visit our Room Integrity Page.

Have You Failed Your Air Tightness Test?

Have You Failed Your Air Tightness Test?

On previous projects where our clients buildings have failed the air tightness test,  we have used combined air tightness testing and smoke surveys to record the air leakage paths. On some projects, we have encountered very ‘leaky’ dwellings and commercial buildings, that achieved air leakage rates in excess of 40m3/h/m2 – or 8 times the usual air permeability requirements of Building Regulations Part L. By utilising pressurised smoke surveys we have managed to quickly identify the air leakage paths for our client’s air sealing teams, which invariably ends up with a successful air test at the second attempt.

Air tightness testing and smoke surveys provide a powerful combination, as it provides an accurate and visual approach to identifying and controlling air leakage in in buildings. Our blower door equipment can be set up quickly with minimal disruption to projects, and the test and smoke survey can be carried out in a matter of minutes, meaning that you can quickly establish buildings air leakage rate, as well as producing an accurate air leakage survey report, highlighting the air leakage paths within the building envelope, to allow targeted remedial sealing works minimising time and costs.


How do you undertake an air leakage smoke survey?

Our blower door fan mounts into a door-sized housing, that can be adjusted to suit the size of the door frame.

We then set up the blower door equipment using the following procedure:

  1. Firstly, we temporarily install a blower door fan system (depending on building size) in a suitably placed doorway
  2. We then take a series of environmental measurements such as internal and external temperatures as well as barometric pressures and undertake measurements between 25-70Pa in 5Pa increments, recording the pressure differential at each step
  3. Finally, our technicians will calculate the total air flow required to achieve a pressure differential of 50 Pa, divided by the total building envelope area – this calculation will show leakage rate in m³/h.m² @ 50 Pa as well as the equivalent air leakage area.
  4. Once its been established that the building has failed the air tightness test, we then pressurise the building (blows air into) to around 60 pascals of pressure, this forces air to flow through the air leakage paths throughout the building fabric.
  5. We then turn on the smoke machine and walk around the building recording all the air leakage paths through the building envelope
  6. We send a detailed smoke survey report to the client to distribute to his remedial sealing team.

It usually takes 1-2 hours to complete an air leakage smoke test; however, we can attend site for a whole day if required. This allows time for operatives to seal all the necessary air leakage paths on the day of the test. If you are planning on undertaking remedial sealing works on the day of the test, your operatives will need to have the correct sealing materials, such as mastic, expanding foam, draught excluders, plasterboard, grip fill and suitable safe access to undertake the sealing works. Here is a video of a typical smoke survey to a dwelling.

If some of the areas are difficult to reach such as very tall commercial buildings, we can also undertake a Thermography survey. This is performed using an infra-red camera to identify hot and cold spots on the surface of the building; this requires a temperature variation and is often done at night.


Why is useful to know the Equivalent Leakage Area (ELA)

once we have undertaken  the air tightness test, our software not only works out the air leakage rate, it also works out the equivalent leakage area (ELA) which can be extremely useful. For instance, if our the building fails the test at 20m3/hr/m2 and you need to achieve a figure of 20m3/hr/m2, you know it is approx. 4 times over the air permeability target.

Our computer software then converts the pressure drop to an equivalent leakage area (ELA), which is the overall size of a single hole in the building fabric, so say the overall equivalent air leakage area (ELA) is one metre square (1m x 1m) you know that you will need to reduce the ELA to approx. 0.25m2  (500mm x 500mm) to attain a pass.

The equivalent leakage area (ELA) is very useful for our engineers and clients to understand the cumulative effect of the many small leaks – such as leakage along a skirting board – that are present within a typical building as they may add up to the equivalent of an open door or window on the building. for instance if you have one hundred linear metres of skirting board with a 5mm gap, you will end up with an approx. air leakage area of half a metre square, more than enough to fail a large house, especially if its got to get down to an air leakage rate of 3m3/h/m2.

The types of Smoke machines used on air leakage surveys

We usually use 3 different types of smoke machines for our air leakage surveys.  We have a smaller handheld smoke machine for standard size  houses. Our middle size smoke machine uses pressurised smoke canisters, which is extremely useful for large houses and smaller commercial buildings. Our large smoke machine is used on large commercial buildings.

So, to recap, we use the different size smoke machines on the following buildings:

  • Small smoke machine – houses, flats, and laboratories
  • Mid-size smoke machine – large houses and small commercial buildings
  • Large smoke machine – large commercial buildings

In all instances, we always use our smoke machines with our blower door systems to accurately identify the air leakage paths in buildings. Without the inclusion of a blower door system to pressurise the entire building, you will only see small amounts of ‘wispy’ smoke drifting around, which makes it very difficult to accurately identify the air leakage paths.

Common Air Leakage Paths 

  1. Poorly installed windows and doors which do not close tightly
  2. Defective windows and doors with missing seals
  3. The gap at the wall/skirting board junction.
  4. Perimeter and internal wall/floor junctions.
  5. Gaps around service penetrations (such as water and electrical) through floor and walls
  6. Pathways through ceiling voids into masonry cavity walls
  7. Pathways through eaves in cavities
  8. Gaps around windowsills and door reveals
  9. Gaps around bathroom and WC services
  10. Gaps around kitchen and utility services.
  11. Gaps between dry lining and ceilings
  12. Unsealed chimneys
  13. Gaps around electrical and IT fittings
  14. Gaps around ceiling loft hatches
  15. Ventilation penetrations through the walls, ceiling, and roof
  16. Poorly installed extractor fans to kitchens, utility, and bathrooms

We can help you pass you air tightness test

At APT Sound Testing we have large amount of experience in understanding the requirements of Approved Document L, along with extensive experience of carrying out thousands of successful air tightness tests on a wide range of developments across London and the UK.

In order to achieve the required air tightness target and to avoid the risk of a failed air tightness test, we strongly recommend that early consideration is given to the design of the air leakage line within your project. By working with our customers at the design and construction stages we provide advice and guidance on the most feasible ways to avoid air leakage and attain compliance for the air tightness test. Please download our air tightness checklist for more information on how to prepare your building for the air tightness test.

At APT Sound Testing, we are happy to provide you with general air leakage design advice for your building envelope and onsite guidance. Upon completion of your project, we provide Nationwide UKAS Accredited Tightness Testing for domestic and commercial buildings to help you demonstrate Building Regulation Part L Compliance.

To find out more about our air tightness testing service or if you wish to discuss your project please contact us on 01525 303905 or email us at

Noise Surveys for New Developments

Noise Surveys for New Developments

A noise survey and report should be submitted during the pre-application process and discussions on planning applications. In many circumstances a planning condition will stipulate that a noise survey will need to be undertaken. Noise surveys are normally carried out prior to completion, however the local authority may also require post a BS 8182 noise level survey to prove that the noise standards have been achieved within the living rooms and bedrooms.

Noise Surveys

The following information will usually need to be included within the noise survey report.

  1. The reason and scope of the report.
  2. Location plan of the proposed development and likely receptor points such as the nearest residential window/s.
  3. The noise survey Methodology including the noise monitoring location, the equipment used and the weather conditions during the noise survey.
  4. Reasons for deviations from standard methods.
  5. Full table of results.
  6. A comparison of survey results against the noise standards.
  7. Recommendations for noise control measures – acoustic barriers etc.
  8. Full calculations against noise reductions expected to support any suggested noise control measures.

When is a noise survey and PPG24 report required?
A noise survey and PPG24 report may be required at the application stage or once planning
permission has been granted. A noise survey and report are required if:

• the proposed development with commercial areas that may create noise which may affect nearby noise sensitive properties. For example, a new commercial activity near existing residential properties.
• the proposed development positioning will be sensitive to noise and is likely to be affected by existing noise sources i.e. busy roads, railway, airports or commercial activity.

What is the noise Survey report for?
The noise survey report is to demonstrate that:

• the source of noise is evaluated and quantified
• nearby noise sensitive receptors identified
• noise receptors have been determined with reference to noise standards

The noise survey report (where required) will also set out control measures where it is necessary to reduce noise to acceptable levels. For example, the installation of different glazing e.g. from double to triple glazed panels or acoustic trickle vents are installed so that internal noise standards are met.

When should a noise survey report be submitted?
A noise survey report should be submitted during pre-application discussions or
more commonly during a planning application. In some circumstances, a planning condition will be included on the planning permission requiring the submission of a noise report.

As background noise surveys are usually carried out prior to completion of a development, compliance with any noise standards are demonstrated by calculation. However, the local authority may also request a post-completion noise survey assessment to prove that noise standards have been achieved.

APT is suitably qualified to carry out noise assessments and provide a noise survey reports
A noise survey must be carried out by a suitably qualified acoustic consultant. We have vast amount of experience and skill in dealing with noise surveys for the planning applications for all types of developments throughout the United Kingdom.

NEC Noise Exposure Categories (NECs)
There are four Noise Exposure Categories based on the level of noise at the development. The NEC in which the site falls determines to what extent noise should be considered in the granting of planning permission.

The NEC(s) for a development are usually determined by monitoring noise levels. Potential mitigation options can then be assessed by calculation, and/or the use of noise modelling. Appropriate noise mitigation can then be incorporated into the development at the design stage.

Planning is awash with often contradictory guidance in regards to noise. The standards, codes of practice do not precisely cover all aspects noise and the subsequent requirements. PPG24 tries to address this by the undertaking of noise surveys at the planning stage to assess the overall suitability of the site’s noise climate for residential development. With it comes the possibility of noise control measures being necessary as part of the planning.

Problems relating to noise during the planning stages can usually be avoided or resolved with a good, detailed and accurate acoustic assessment report. various mitigation measures.

We undertake accurate on-site noise assessments to suit the needs of a client’s problem and their pocket, and deliver concise and clear reports in a timescale which is again designed to suit the client. If there are problems with the noise levels, APT can propose various mitigation measures to help you comply with PPG24 or BS4142 noise surveys.

If you would like more information on noise surveys for your new development, then please contact us on 01525 303 905 or visit our website at:

Improving Acoustics in Dwellings

Improving Acoustics in Dwellings

When designing a new project containing multiple dwellings, why go further than just meeting the basic regulations. For instance, if you only manage to achieve the minimum requirements for compliance with Building Regulations Part E for sound testing, then the chance of noise complaints will usually be higher than if you better it by 5-7dB.  

Sound Insulation Testing

Improving Acoustics in Dwellings
The World Health Organisation defines noise as ‘unwanted sound’ and such noise in buildings can have significant effects on the people (residents) who occupy them. If a person is subjected to excess noise for long periods, it can result in physical discomfort or mental distress and in many cases noise complaints. The WHO estimates that around 50% of the population of the European Union live in areas are exposed to noise levels that do not ensure acoustic comfort to their inhabitants and more than 30% are exposed to noise levels at night which is at a level disturbing to sleep this is simply not good enough.

Within homes, a noisy neighbour can be one of the main problems experienced in attached housing. It’s estimated that up to 4 million people in Britain have had their lives disturbed by noisy neighbours.

The best way to combat excess noise is to ensure that proper precautions are taken at the design stage of the project and thereafter during construction of the building. Noise transmission levels should be compatible with the building’s usage with the correct acoustic climate provided in each space.

The UK has the building regulations and a number of sector specific guidance documents covering noise, these are:

  • Approved Document E
  • Building Bulletin 93
  • Health Technical Memorandum 08-01
  • BS8233
  • BS4142

There are strong arguments for considering solutions which go above and beyond just meeting the minimum requirements in the above regulations. For instance using acoustic ceiling products and partition systems it is possible to create environments that offer greater acoustic comfort for occupants go above and beyond the standard Building Regulations requirements, which should have a positive impact on health, well-being and productivity.

Firstly, get advice on acoustic design before starting construction. The most effective way to ensure you improve the acoustics on your project and pass your sound test at the first attempt is to plan your project with sound insulation in mind. This does not need to be costly, and can save considerable time and cost at the end of the project, by reducing the chance of needing to undertake remedial works and re-testing.

The two main areas to take into consideration are usually the dividing wall and floor partitions. If you are unsure of how to build the separating wall and floor partitions and associated junctions across your project don’t panic, we can offer an acoustic design service. The degree of guidance you require can vary from site to site; however, we can cater for every eventuality by offering sample sound testing to establish the sound insulation performance of your existing wall and floors. Thereafter we can undertake more targeted design review using the information at hand.

When your project is underway, we can visit site and check the construction is being constructed as designed. Even minor alterations can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your sound insulation measures.

If you have a new project and you need help with your acoustic design and/or sound testing then please email us at:  or call us on 01525 303905. If you want more information on our full range of services please visit our website at:

If you would like to download more information on how to prepare for your sound testing, please click download our sound testing checklist.