The UK Government has rubber-stamped the use of an alternative air tightness testing method, known as the ‘Pulse’ test. Now an official compliance tool, it may be used instead of the ‘blower door’ method.
The low-pressure system is a portable unit that uses compressed air to measure a building or other structure’s air leakage at a near-ambient pressure level (4Pa).
The system features an air change rate measurement that represents the real-world conditions of inhabited buildings, because it measures at low pressure. This results in a better understanding of ventilation needs and energy performance.
The Pulse system includes an air receiver and nozzle unit, and air compressor unit and a control screen. Unlike the blower door method, Pulse does not necessitate the building fabric to be penetrated, which results in less disruption for occupants and construction workers.
The Pulse system was developed in the UK by the University of Nottingham, and has been licensed for manufacture and distribution by Build Test Solutions (BTS).
Future Homes Standard (proposed changes to both Parts L (energy) and F (ventilation) of existing building regulations) was previously opened up for public consultation, and then adopted by the government.
Critically, it means that all new buildings must be tested for air tightness, rather than the previous approach which involved a sample of new buildings being tested on a particular development.
The consultation (under Part L1a) also proposed the adoption of the Pulse air tightness testing system.
Luke Smith, managing director of Build Test Solutions, said: “We are delighted with this outcome, which is testament to the extensive field trial testing, product development and third-party validation that has taken place over the years. It has been quite the journey but to reach this milestone and see the positive responses made by so many industry respondents is fantastic.
“We firmly believe that Pulse delivers a pioneering approach to fabric air permeability measurement; not only allowing the industry to more readily step up to the new requirement for 100 per cent sample testing but perhaps most importantly of all, providing greater choice to clients and testers alike.”
The Pulse system is placed in the centre of a dwelling. A burst of air is then released for a duration of 1.5 seconds. High frequency sampling of the background pressure then takes place, and the resultant signature reveals the air leakage characteristics of the dwelling
The developers of Pulse say it was not designed to replace the blower door system – but to compliment it. As well as delivering new metrics, Pulse makes it easier to test other types of enclosed area, such as:
We are registered with iATS (Independent AirTightness Testing Scheme) and use equipment calibrated by UKAS laboratories. Our testing procedures are also recognised by UKAS.