The Importance of Room Integrity Testing

The Importance of Room Integrity Testing 

In ISO 15004, it clearly states that an enclosure must be integrity tested annually when protected by a gaseous fire suppression system and/or alternatively when alterations are made to the structure of the enclosure such as the introduction of new cable or mechanical runs. At APT we provide room integrity testing for a wide variety of types and manufacturers of fire suppression systems, whether it is part of a system installation or annual inspection or intermediate post work testing.  Our engineers use the latest high powered fan technology to test all types and sizes of enclosure from small server rooms to large data centres. If your enclosure fails the room integrity test we can undertake a smoke survey and produce a detailed report to highlight the air leakage paths, this allows your site operatives to accurately seal the areas of air leakage.

Room_intergrity_test_fire_supressant

It is a requirement that a room Integrity Test is carried out at the time of the fire suppression installation. It is also a recommendation that a room Integrity Test is carried out on an annual basis as part of the routine maintenance schedule. This test is designed to ensure that an extinguishing concentration is held for a sufficient time (normally 10 minutes) to prevent re-ignition in the event of a fire.

Detailed studies have revealed that the predominant cause of failure of gaseous extinguishing systems is inadequate room sealing, which is usually down to excessive air leakage paths through the building envelope. It is also found that room integrity performance reduces with time; this is usually due to ongoing modifications to the envelope to accommodate extra mechanical and electrical installations such as data cabling etc.

Due to the potential issues associated with fire damage, it is essential that your main asset can contain the gas suppressant for as long as possible to prevent the fire reigniting. To enable this it is important to ensure that good room integrity is established at the end of the enclosures construction and maintained throughout the life cycle of the enclosure.

It is with noting that the annual integrity inspection and testing are also required by the BFPSA and are routine practice at most major commercial institutions such as banks and data storage companies. The benefits of ensuring good room integrity are recognised by insurers and regulatory authorities, who frequently insist on such testing.

For further information on our room integrity testing services, please contact our technical manager Darren on 07775623464; or email us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk

Room Integrity Test

Room Integrity Test

A room integrity test is one of the most important aspects of any fire suppression system. If a protected enclosure has a suppression system, the agent that is discharged into the enclosure has to be able to remain there for a minimum period of 10 minutes, from the initial activation of the fire alarm or alert.

A fire suppression system can provide adequate cover and function correctly if the room is adequately sealed. A room that is insufficiently sealed may allow the suppression agent that has been discharged into the room to escape too quickly, prior to fully extinguishing the fire which may result in massive damage to your major asset.

On Site Fire Integrity Test 

Room_intergrity_test_fire_supressant

The performance of any protected room and fire suppression system can only be guaranteed when serviced regularly through a professional maintenance routine. APT always recommend that room integrity testing is made part of an annual service and maintenance package, to ensure that on discharge, the suppression agent achieves and maintains the correct concentration, at the appropriate height for minimum required time frame.

In many instances although the room may be quite air tight, the enclosure may fail as the distance from the structural height, i.e. the ceiling of the enclosure may be very close to the top of the protected height – the top of the server racks. When designing a protected enclosure it is always best to allow plenty of distance between the top of the protected height and the ceiling as this should result in more retention time, as long as your enclosure is sufficiently airtight.

It is worth noting that if your protected enclosure suffers fire damage, it may not be covered by the buildings insurance if you don’t have up to date Fire Integrity Certification.

For further information on our room integrity testing services, please contact our technical manager Darren on 07775623464; or email us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk

Checking the Air Seal Line to Ensure Air Tightness

Checking the Air Seal Line to Ensure Air Tightness

Many companies don’t fully understand the importance of the air seal line in regards to air tightness. The air seal line is usually the building envelope but this is not always the case. In many instances buildings may have plant rooms where are heavily vented to outside atmosphere, in these instances the air leakage line will be the internal wall that encapsulates the plant room.

Also, the incorrect sequencing of construction work may weaken the air seal line prior to the air tightness test, such as the late addition of mechanical and electrical pipework & cables just prior to the air test, obviously the M&E should have been installed earlier in the project; however, due to insufficient information i.e. missing details on drawings, the M&E is often added at a later stage, thus requiring additional penetrations through the newly completed building fabric, thus compromising the potential air tightness of the building envelope.. Unfortunately once newly formed penetrations are in the envelope, nobody wants to take ownership for the new penetrations and the resealing of the areas, so the air leakage paths are left to the end of the project, often resulting in air tightness test failures.

Air_Leakage_Paths_Through_House

In many instances – due to programme constraints) operatives are rushed to install new installations, resulting in much larger access holes than is strictly necessary for the service pipework/cables, this often happens in kitchens, utility rooms, bathrooms, toilets and service cupboards. In these rooms service penetrations are often hid behind Kitchen cupboards, behind toilets, sinks, bath panels and under shower. Other areas are around services in airing and boiler cupboards. Once cupboards and boilers etc. are installed, it makes it almost impossible to seal the air leakage paths – especially if it’s close to the air seal line.

Room_integrity_test_With_blower_fan

In many cases a lack of understanding by building contractors can lead to multiple air test failures.  One common problem is the client putting cosmetic appearance above general airtightness; however, with careful air sealing both can be achieved.  Unfortunately, with the airtightness target being halved from the old standard of 10m3/hr/m2 to 5m3/hr/m2 or even as low as 1m3/hr/m2, it is absolutely essential that the all air leakage paths are sealed as soon as the M&E is installed.

In our experience another reasons for air tightness testing failures is down to a general lack of understanding as to where the air seal line within the building.  Some of the issues that may need to be addressed to overcome this would include adequate training, quality control and building design.

If you employ APT from the start of the project, we can send out our air tightness checklist to help you prepare for the air testing. If each item is actioned in-line with the checklist then our clients usually pass first time. We also offer a site visit service to make sure that the building is being adequately sealed as works progress, so the air leakage paths can be sealed prior to the air tightness test.

If you would like more information in regards to preparing for you air tightness test in London, please contact us at: info@airpressuretesting.net or phone us on 07775623464.

The Importance of Airtightness Testing

The Importance of Airtightness Testing

The importance of air tightness testing is often overlooked within the build process. Approved document L1 & L2 suggests that air permeability is the physical property used to measure the airtightness of the building fabric.  The test measurement is defined as air leakage rate of m3/hr/m2. The old building regulations stipulated an air leakage rate of 10m3/hr/m2; however, this has now been lowered to an average of 5m3/hr/m2 which is far more difficult to achieve

Wherever air infiltration occurs, there is a corresponding exfiltration somewhere else in the building. During the summer, infiltration can bring humid, outdoor air into buildings. In winter, exfiltration can result in moist indoor air moving into cold wall cavities and may result in condensation and ultimately mould and/or rot, which could result in serious lasting damage to the property.
Air_Tightness_Testing

The ATTMA – Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association governing body for air tightness testing and  the defines ‘air leakage’ as the uncontrolled flow of air through gaps and cracks in the fabric of a building. The general public recognise it as draughts. In most cases the main air leakage paths are:

Services Penetrations

  • Service penetration’s around boilers pipes.
  • Service penetration’s around under floor heating.
  • Service penetrations in the kitchen and utility room.
  • Service penetrations in the toilets, bathroom and en-suite.
  • Pipework penetrations behind the radiators.
  • Service penetrations in the bathrooms and en-suite.
  • Around electrical fuse box.
  • Around extract fans.

General Air Leakage Paths

  • Gaps between skirting board and floor on each floor level.
  • Behind kitchen units.
  • Behind Utility Cupboards
  • Around poorly fitted trickle vents.
  • Around Patio doors.
  • Gaps around the stairs.
  • Around loft hatch.
  • Gaps around the bath panel and the shower tray.

If you employ our services from the start of the project, we will send out our air tightness checklist to help you prepare for the air testing. We also over an air tightness design and site survey service, to ensure the building envelope or the defined air leakage line is being constructed properly, we can then highlight any potential air leakage paths so they can be sealed prior to the air tightness test.

If you would like more information in regards to preparing for you air tightness test in London, please contact us at: info@airpressuretesting.net or phone us on 07775623464.