Reducing the Chance of Sound Testing failures

Reducing the Chance of Sound Testing failures

The simplest way to reduce the chance of sound testing failures is through careful consideration to the acoustic design at the start of the project.  Unfortunately, by simply specifying high performance wall and floor partitions, it is no guarantee to adequate sound isolation and successful sound testing at the end of the project.

We offer preconstruction design advice to help you achieve successful sound testing in-line with Building Regulations Part E. We also offer onsite inspection services to ensure that the sound insulation elements are being installed as per manufactures guild-lines, as it’s no use having good acoustic design if it not being installed properly on site.

architect drafting a house blueprint

Acoustic Design of Wall and Floor Partitions

The first stage of the acoustic design is to send through the design drawings – to include sections etc. We then review the design to check that the construction details proposed are capable of passing the sound tests. This usually takes place straight after planning has been approved as increased cost savings can be realised at the earliest stage, we will evaluate the construction methods and materials specified to ensure that they are capable of meeting the acoustic requirements of Approved document E. The typical areas we check are:

  1. There are no flanking points, where isolated partitions are wrongly mechanically fixed together to caused noise bridging.
  2. The walls and floors design are acoustically robust, to comply withBuilding Regulations Part E.
  3. The acoustic treatments for Soil Pipes, Stair Cases Steel Beams etc. to ensure they are acoustically fit for purpose, as these are some of the areas that get usually missed.
  4. Acoustic floor treatments are compatible with the proposed floor finishes i.e. Carpets, Laminates, Floor Tiles and under floor heating systems.

APT Sound Testing also provide on-going design support service, so you will have direct contact with the allocated acoustician from the start of the process through to the successful completion of the project. One of the most important services is the going site survey visits which allow our clients to feel confident about the outcome of testing at the end of the build. The site visits let us check that the installation teams are installing the acoustic materials as per manufacturers avoiding crucial onsite mistakes. You can often have a compliant design which still fails due to poor workmanship; the site survey visits negate the risk of sound test failure.

We also offer an acoustic advice service for clients that have failed their precompletion sound testing. We offer simple solutions to reduce the noise levels and achieve compliance with Part E. We can supply simple easy to follow acoustic design reviews, utilising our extensive knowledge of different materials and construction methods

If you require more information about acoustic design and/or sound testing on your project, please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call Darren direct on 07775623464.

Why Have I Failed my Sound Insulation Test?

Why Have I Failed my Sound Insulation Test?

This is one of the most common questions clients ask when their property has just failed the sound testing. One of the main reasons for acoustic partitions failing the Part E sound test is often down to poor isolation of material/s, which can lead to excessive noise flanking. Noise Flanking is a term used by acoustic engineers to describe where sound passes through an acoustic partition due to the abutment of materials. The noise simply hits the one side of the wall and then travels through the construction via a noise bridge. This can be areas such as the incorrect use of masonry wall ties i.e. solid fishtail ties, used in place of specified acoustic wall ties; if your building suffers from noise flanking it may result in a sound test failure.

Sound_Insulation_Testing_Equipment

Unwanted noise travelling along flanking paths can make the building structure vibrate, which can cause sound to radiate into your room – as shown in the plate below . One simple cost effective solution is to build another wall or ceiling in front of the original, to offer extra isolation. For this upgrade to work you need to make sure that the independent wall or ceiling is not directly connected to the existing failed partition; so it provides isolation between materials.

Coupled_wall_construction

Noise flanking can also be down to the use of down to the use of lightweight blocks in the construction of the building envelope. Due to the lightweight mas of the inner wall it allows sound to transmit from dwelling to another, both vertically and horizontally. If a building has failed its sound testing, it is essential to establish if the problem is due to direct transmission, flanking transmission or a combination of both so that the most cost and time effective remedial treatment can be designed and applied to the failed partitions.

If you require more information about acoustic design and/or sound testing on your project, please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call me direct on 07775623464.

Sound Intrusion Though Windows

Sound Intrusion Though Windows

Sound intrusion though windows can also be a source of great annoyance if the sound is excessive, and in some cases developments have failed the sound insulation testing due to poorly specified and installed windows. Sound intrusion may be down to a variety of factors. If the windows are operable types, the first thing to check is to see if the widows close properly against their seals and any weather stripping is continuous and in good order. If the window leaks air, then more often than not it will usually leak sound. If the window closes to form a tight seal and the weather-stripping seems adequate the next thing to check is the window frame. Windows are frequently installed in to the wall opening with plastic shims to insure the unit is plumb and level. In high traffic areas you will normally require a double glazed unit as a minimum and in some cases a triple glazed unit will be required.

Sound_Intrusion_Through_Windows

The space between the frame and the wall should be insulated and sealed before the window casings are installed. If this was not done correctly you can probably detect the sound leakage by placing your ear close to the frame and listening. The sound may be able to run along the cavity and back into the adjacent property, It is case of letting your ears do the walking and listening. If you detect distinguishable differences in sound you may have found the problem; the solution will be to remove the casing and insulate and caulk all leaks. In some cases the thickness of the glass maybe the problem in which case it may be necessary to install another layer of glass on the inside of the existing frame making sure that the additional pane of glass is well sealed into the opening.

In some instances you may be able to lower excessive sound by installing a heavy curtain – especially if the house is in a conservation area and as a result the local authority will not let you change or upgrade the windows.

If you require more advice on your project and/or you require precompletion sound testing, please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk  or phone me directly on 07775623464.

Remedial action following a sound insulation test failure

Remedial action following a sound insulation test failure

If a partition fails a sound insulation test, it can be difficult to provide definitive guidance on resolving specific problems that have occurred in individual buildings as the building is usually complete at the time of testing. However, using our knowledge of acoustic construction and detailing APT Sound Testing are usually able to identify and resolve any problems with the acoustic partitions.

ACOUSTIC_DESIGN

If the sound testing failure is attributed to the construction of the separating and/or associated flanking elements, other rooms that have not been tested as part of the testing schedule may also fail to meet the test performance levels. Additional tests may be needed, over and above the number recommended under Building Regulations Part E.

Extra sound testing will assist in identifying, at an early stage, where the failures have been caused by intermittent poor workmanship and/or design. Sound Testing may then be required for all plots to identify the ones that require remedial treatment. Where failure is due to a design fault, additional testing may not be required, as all plots with the same design are likely to require remedial treatment and so a generic acoustic upgrade can be undertaken to the failed partitions and then retested thereafter.

sound testing

To try and negate potential problems with the sound insulation testing we offer the following 4 step acoustic design advice package:

  1. Site Survey Visits – to let us view the existing site construction. This allows us to check for potential problematic construction detailing and also lets us check that the installation teams are installing the acoustic materials as per manufacturer’s guidelines.
  2. Sample Sound Testing – of the existing construction. This offers an accurate overview of the acoustic performance of the existing partitions.
  3. Design Review – a full design review of the proposed developments party walls and floors.
  4. Pre-completion Sound Testing to satisfy Approved Document E.

APT Sound Testing can supply a ‘one stop’ solution for all your acoustic requirements. If you would like more information in regards to sound insulation testing or acoustic design please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk  or call Darren direct on 07775623464.

Sound Test Report Information

Sound Test Report Information

All our testing and reportage are undertaken in strict accordance with Annexe B of Approved Document E of the Building Regulations and BS EN ISO 140-4:1998 “Field measurements of airborne sound insulation between rooms” and BS EN ISO 140-7:1998 “Field measurements of impact sound insulation of floors.”

Acoustic_Design_Service

After the sound insulation test a sound test report or certificate should be provided in compliance with Building Regulations Part E. This normally provides the following information:

  1. The company name and/or testers name and address that carried out the test and the accreditation held by the membership organisation.
  2. The client/applicant name.
  3. Site address.
  4. Plots tested
  5. If it was a wall or floor test.
  6. List of equipment used (including details on calibrated equipment) and testing technique.
  7. Confirmation that the test was in accordance with BS EN ISO 140 Part 4 (airborne) and Part 7 (impact).
  8. Measurement procedure.
  9. The results should be calculated in accordance with BS EN ISO 717-1 and 717-2 1997. Detailed test results giving a declaration of a pass or fail.
  10. Date of test. The test results or certificates will be submitted to the verifier during the completion certificate process.

The test duration depends on the amount of sound insulation tests required on the project. Taking into account standard site conditions a set of two airborne wall tests (for a pair of houses) will take one to two hours. A six pack of tests on flats, consisting of two airborne walls, two airborne floor and two impact tests will take between two to three hours. Throughout the sound testing we will require full free uninterrupted access to the units/rooms in all test areas.

We offer an acoustic design service to review the construction detailing. We also offer a sample testing service along with site inspections which provides a ‘one stop acoustic solution’. We visit site during the build process to check for any workmanship issues that may cause problems during the final pre-completion sound testing.

If you would like APT Sound Testing to review your sites acoustic construction, then please speak to us about our acoustic design service, alternatively if you just require sound insulation testing please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk

Preparing for your site for Sound Testing

Preparing for your site for Sound Testing

To record accurate test measurements, we need to ensure that the correct site conditions are achieved prior to the precompletion sound testing. Relatively quiet conditions are required on site throughout the testing. Any site operatives working in the testing area will have to leave temporarily and any noisy works in the vicinity of the test areas including external site activity such as groundworks, drilling and banging will need to be halted, otherwise it may result in a sound test failure.  We always provide a full sound testing checklist within our quotation which identifies what actions need to be undertaken prior to the sound test.

sound testing equipment

The condition the buildings/dwelling is very important, as they can influence the results of the test. The following stages for sound testing will help preparation and also assess the point at which completed buildings can be tested. Generally before the test the parts of the building/rooms either side of the separating wall or separating floor should be complete. Particular attention should be paid to the following:

  1. All separating floors and walls and all flanking walls and floors should be complete.
  2. All wall and floor junctions should be complete – to include flanking strips etc.
  3. All wall finishes should be complete, this should include skirting’s being in place. This does not include decorative finishes such as paint.
  4. Floors must be bare and no carpets should be laid – where a concrete floor with bonded resilient cover is to be fitted with wood based flooring. In this case, the test sample resilient floor cover should be tested with a wood based floor covering laid over the test sample area.
  5. Windows should be installed with all glass fitted.
  6. Trickle vents should be in place and closed.
  7. All doors should be fully fitted and closed. This includes internal doors and external doors fully fitted with doors seals.
  8. Services should be complete and any voids around ducts finished.
  9. Electrical sockets should be fitted.
  10. A 240V electricity supply should be available to all the test plots.
  11. There should be no noise during the test other than from the testing equipment.
  12. The test plots and adjacent areas within the building should be quiet for the duration of the test.
  13. No work should be carried out or noise made in the building at the time of the test.
  14. Site workers should not enter the building or be in the parts of the building undergoing a test.

We try to offer a ‘one stop acoustic solution’ visa our acoustic design service, sample sound testing and site visits.

If you would like APT Sound Testing to review your sites acoustic construction, then please speak to us about our acoustic design service, alternatively if you just require sound insulation testing please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk

Sound Insulation Testing

Sound Insulation Testing

At APT we offer Airborne and Impact Sound Insulation Testing in accordance with Part E of the Building Regulations and, where required sound testing on Schools BB93 & BREEAM. Under Part E of Building Regulations, this is a requirement for new and converted dwellings where there is a separating partition wall or floor. The sound insulation testing of existing buildings is carried out to assess current levels of sound insulation and to allow for the design of remedial measures, where the performance needs to be increased.

The buildings that currently require sound testing are:

  1. Dwelling-houses, flats or rooms for residential purposes created by conversion of existing buildings or new build rooms for residential purposes will need to be tested if work starts after 1 July 2004.
  2. New build dwelling-houses and flats will need to be tested if work starts after 1 July 2004.

Sound insulation testing is carried out to ensure that minimum standards of sound resistance have been met to ensure the well-being of new tenants is not compromised by adverse sound transmission. The testing checks that the dividing partitions have not been compromised by poor workmanship and poor design. We use the latest sound testing equipment as shown below:

sound testing equipment

You are normally required to undertake sound testing to each type of construction, i.e. if you have a mixture of brick, block-work, timber and metal stud-work walls all four types would need to be tested, followed by a 10% sample of that type. it is worth noting that if any test failures occur, then the number of sound tests may need to increase on the development.

If you are unsure whether the Regulations apply to your development or if your site needs sound insulation testing, please call your local office or email us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk where our team will be happy to discuss all aspects of acoustics or sound insulation within buildings, and explain the testing procedure.

Good Acoustic Design

Good Acoustic Design to Pass Your Sound Insulation Testing

We have carried our hundreds of acoustic design reviews and sound insulation tests, so we are well placed to help you overcome any potential problems to achieve compliance with Building Regulations Part E.

It is essential that good acoustic design is actioned from the offset of any new construction project. When designing acoustic partitions you will need to consider the following

architect drafting a house blueprint

  1. The careful design of floor plans to avoid habitual rooms being placed side by side.
  2. The mass and density of products that you are using.
  3. Using good design detailing to ensure the careful isolation of materials.
  4. The whole construction detail and how it is made up.
  5. Undertaking careful acoustic detailing of junctions between walls, ceilings and floors.
  6. Using acoustic wall ties in cavity walls.
  7. Types of doors in sound resisting walls.
  8. Containment of noise within noisy parts of a building such as lift shafts.
  9. Positions of sockets and flues on opposite sides of walls to ensure they don’t sit back to back.
  10. Sealing and filling of joints.
  11. The use of cavity closer’s on window/door reveals.
  12. Careful sealing of service penetrations.
  13. Designing to reduce potential reverberation in common parts of buildings such as corridors and entrance areas and the subsequent use of absorbent materials.

Unfortunately unless the acoustic design has been taken into account, the floor and ceiling partitions can be the main pathways for sound transmission.  The first type of sound transmission is airborne sound such as TV and speech; and the second is the passage of impact sounds such as footfall or children’s toys being dropped on the floor above.  Achieving good airborne and impact sound isolation requires careful acoustic design considerations.

APT Sound Testing can advise on all types of acoustic design, whether it’s accomplished during initial construction or during a refurbishment/renovation project. We also undertake UKAS accredited sound testing providing a ‘one stop’ solution for all your acoustic requirements.

If you would like more information in regards to good acoustic design and/or sound testing please follow our blog at: http://soundtestinguk.blogspot.co.uk or contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk and 07775623464 or visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk

 

Adding Mass to Improve Sound Insulation

Adding Mass to Improve Sound Insulation

Adding mass to improve sound insulation can be one of the most important elements to improving precompletion sound testing results. In summary it basically means you add extra weight/mass to the construction of the acoustic wall and/or floor partition. Materials such as solid block-work masonry is best for wall construction; however it is very important that the block-work envelope is constructed out of solid concrete block work as the use of lightweight block work often ends in sound test failure.

Sound_Insulation_Test_London

 For floor construction, solid concrete floors – min 150mm) are usually the best construction for outright mass; however soundboard, plywood and OSB can be found fairly cheaply and will also do the job – if installed as per manufacturer’s guidelines. It is very important that adequate site supervision is on hand to check the construction of all acoustic partitions.

It is basic physics, so for sound to conduct through a wall, it has to actually move (vibrate) the wall ever so slightly. As a heavier wall is harder to move than a lighter wall then it should vibrate less and turn let through less noise. Soundboard is one of the lowest cost sources of mass available and also one of the most commonly used. Wherever possible its best to use two layers of 12.5mm board with the correct laps to the boards. Although the wall will still vibrate it will be less due to the extra mass.

It’s worth noting that although the added mass improved things and it will be more difficult for sound to move this heavier wall, in many instances you will still hear low frequencies (bass noise) quite easily.

Our next blog covers the last – but not least) element of acoustic design – Damping. If you would like more information in regards to acoustic design and sound insulation testing, please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call Darren direct on 07775623464.

Noise Absorption

Noise Absorption

It is usual for air cavities to resonate, such as the cavity within a timber wall. For instance if you blow across the top of a bottle and heard the sound, it sounds much louder; this is the trapped air resonating. In a similar way a hollow wall will also trap air that will resonate. When the wall is vibrated by loud sound such as a neighbour’s loud music of TV, the air in the wall cavity will vibrate just like a drum. Unfortunately this air cavity is another means for sound vibration to travel from one side of the acoustic partition wall to the other. So even though the wall framing may be decoupled, the vibrating air cavity may still transmit some sound through the wall between the wall studs. Acoustic fiberglass insulation will absorb some of this (absorption).

installing_acoustic_wool

In all instances acoustic Insulation should help the overall sound insulation test result, and should always be installed if possible. Although the vibration reduction is smaller than the other 3 elements it is still very important.  The key is to keep the density low, so don’t try to compress or pack the insulation as the vibration may use this to bridge the construction.

So to summarise we have now managed to de-couple and insulated the acoustic wall framing, which has helped to stop much of the vibration, but unfortunately not all of it. So what else can we do? – add mass of course. A full explanation of how mass can help your sound test results can be found in the next blog.

If you require any information on our acoustic design and/or sound test services, please contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call Darren on 07775623464.