Preparing for Sound Testing

Preparing for Sound Testing
For APT to undertake accurate sound testing we require that certain guidelines are followed, i.e. keeping site noise levels to be kept to a minimum etc. To record accurate test measurements, 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 ground works, 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 insulation test.

APT Sound Testing Services
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.

After the sound insulation test a 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 tests required on the project. Taking into account standard site conditions a set of tests on houses -two airborne walls 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 on 01525 303905 or visit the APT Sound Testing website today.

Sound Testing for Conversion Projects

Acoustic Design to Pass Sound Testing in Conversion Projects
It is essential that acoustic design is carefully thought out at the start of every conversion project to avoid sound test failures. Throughout the 1980s, most timber frame separating floors involved the following standard construction details:

  • Floorboards (18–22mm thick)
  • Gypsum-based board
  • Mineral wool batt (80kg/m3)
  • Sub decking
  • 220mm joists
  • 100mm quilt insulation between the joists
  • One/Two layers of gypsum-based board for the ceiling

Using the combination of floorboard, gypsum board and mineral wool batt is termed a “platform floor”. There is a wide range of batt densities. If the density is too low the floor surface is able to ‘bounce’ and deflect much more easily. If the density is too high then the floor may be too hard and impact sound is able to transmit more easily to the residential dwelling below.

architect drafting a house blueprint

architect drafting a house blueprint

Even when resilient battens are used, continuous structural contact along the joist between the floor sub-deck and ceiling provides a strong path for sound transmission. If contact between the ceiling and the joists can be reduced, an increase in airborne and impact performance will be achieved.

One solution is to add another ceiling element to the overall construction. This can provide the extra isolation required to pass the sound testing in London. This can be achieved by incorporate resilient metal bars which are connected to the underside of the joists and mounted perpendicular (90˚) to the joist direction. If plasterboard has already been tacked to the underside of the joists you can firstly add timber batten and then add the resilient bars, also mounted perpendicular (90˚ to the batten.

Squeaking Floors
One common problem is that the Joists are often spaced too far apart can result in a reduction in floor stiffness and complaints about footstep noise at low frequencies. Over-notching of joists can also lead to a reduction in floor stiffness and also potential squeaking. This can result in successful airborne and impact sound tests, however it won’t stop the squeaking of the floors under the extra load imposed by people walking above.

To help with impact sound testing, timber floors often pass as the separating floors normally have a resilient floor surface or “timber floating floor”. This not only assists impact sound insulation (against footstep noise transference) but also reduces airborne sound transference.

Timber floating floors must use a flanking strip to isolate the floorboards from the perimeter walls and skirting’s. If flanking strips are not fitted then footstep noise can easily enter the structure via walls etc. and flank into the adjacent dwellings. In the 1980s, mineral wool was used as a flanking strip but it was difficult to turn round at the floorboard edge. It was also prone to deterioration due to compression and movement under dynamic load. As a direct result of this, 5–10mm polyethylene flanking strips were incorporated into the acoustic design and construction., They are also easier to install and do not degrade over time to the same extent.

There are many reasons why floors may fail the sound testing, such as the use of incorrect mechanical fixing can reduce the insulation performance provided by floating floor treatments and resilient ceiling bars. Using very long screws will lead to bridging of the resilient layers and noise flanking. Inserting pipes or services within a platform floor can reduce the potential acoustic performance if they are not adequately boxed.  The placing pipes or cables under resilient battens can also bridge the resilient layer.

Potential problems with timber frame separating floors

  • Incorrect bridging of resilient layer by over-long screws/nails
  • Fixings connecting ceiling boards to resilient bars should not bridge to joists
  • Extra wide joist spacing that reduces floor stiffness
  • Platform floor resilient layers damaged by inserting pipes and services within the layers
  • Reduction in stiffness due to use of joist hangers
  • Ceiling boards not staggered
  • Over-notching of joists for services reduces floor stiffness
  • Incorrect omission of flanking strips at floor edge perimeters.

Whilst it is normal practice to have a building surveyed for its structural integrity, however often the acoustic conditions of a building are not considered until the project is well advanced and the partitions are already built. In some cases the acoustic performance of the building may not have been considered until the work is complete and the verifier requests a sound test to demonstrate compliance with the Building Standards. If it is found that the separating wall or floor does not comply you may need to action the following:

  • Extensive remedial works may be required to the wall/floor partitions.
  • The sound test completion certificate may not be accepted by the verifier
  • There may be considerable delays to entry for occupants and subsequent accommodation costs.
  • Pre-conversion sound tests can both avert the risk of non-compliance and avoid damage to the existing fabric.

Potential Problems with Services
It’s very common to run services such as electricity cables as well as water and gas pipes within the floor void. This is acceptable and should not require any additional acoustic attenuation measures. However, care should be taken to ensure that their installation does not damage the deafening material or resilient layers, which is a common cause of sound test failures.

sound_insulation_testing2It is strongly recommended not to run waste or rainwater pipes horizontally within a party floor. The pipes can then be boxed properly using insulation rapping and sound board boxing.

Steel columns can be a source of flanking transmission, in particular hollow steel columns. They can also provide a strong path for structural impact transmission. Pre-conversion sound tests should be able to identify whether any columns act as a significant transmission path and whether any treatment is required. It may not be necessary to treat the column in all dwellings if flanking is limited, however in many instances the columns will need to be acoustically boxed to prevent sound test failure. One such treatment for columns would be to construct a free standing metal stud partition around the column, incorporating 50mm insulation quilt and sheeted with two layers of gypsum-based board. Where columns pass through separating floors, as in old bonded warehouses, the junction between column and floor should be well sealed not only for sound insulation but also for fire. The column linings should be double lined with gypsum-based board (minimum mass per unit area 10kg/m2).

Timber beams do not significantly affect the sound insulation performance of a separating floor. However, if a beam has been installed for strengthening, the boxing around the beam may be a single sheet of lightweight board and may be fixed directly to the beam as this will result in a weak area for airborne sound insulation. This can be resolved by stripping off the boxing, packing any voids with dense mineral wool batt and re-sheeting with two layers of dense gypsum-based sound board.

Contact APT Sound Testing We hope the above information helps you to understand the potential problems with acoustic design and pre-completion sound testing on your development. If you have a project that’s needs acoustic design advice or sound testing in London, then please visit our Sound Testing website or phone us directly on 07775623464.

Room Integrity Testing

The Importance of Having Valid Enclosure Integrity Certification
It is a requirement of the BFPSA that all protected enclosures have valid enclosure certification; it’s also a requirement of all major commercial institutions. The benefits of ensuring room integrity are widely recognised by insurers and regulatory authorities, who frequently require room integrity testing to prevent critical system failure on valuable assets such as server rooms and data centres.

For most extinguishing system types, a retention time of ten minutes is the minimum period the suppressant agents is required to be retained for within the enclosure. NFPA 2001, Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems, requires that a minimum concentration of 85% of the adjusted minimum design concentration be held at the highest level of combustibles for a minimum period of 10 minutes. This is usually long enough to prevent re-ignition for most deep-seated fires and should provide adequate time for the emergency services to attend and prevent the fire taking hold.

In the relevant ISO standard BS EN15004, it states that it is ‘mandatory that room integrity testing is carried out annually on all enclosures protected by a gaseous fire suppression system’. If you don’t have valid enclosure certification you may negate your buildings insurance in the event of a fire. In all instances the integrity certification should always be attached to the front of the protected enclosure/s to show it has valid certification and to clearly show the dates of the next test. The certification also has other useful information that should be adhered to at all times. If you don’t have integrity test certification fixed to the front of the enclosure, then the chances are that your enclosure may not have valid certification.

In many cases the stakeholder may not be aware that any modifications have taken place to the server room envelope, which may have reduced the integrity of the enclosure envelope. That is why it’s always best to plan any works within protected enclosures so that everyone’s aware of the importance of maintaining the integrity of the enclosure envelope and to ensure that in the event of a fire, the gaseous suppressant doesn’t leak straight through the building envelope via excess air leakage paths. Also, if a room integrity testing plan is followed at all times, then the integrity test can be programmed straight after service works have taken place.

To reduce the chance of potential fire damage to your valuable assets, it is essential that a room Integrity test plan is adhered to at all times. APT can formulate a testing schedule and warn you of any impending tests to ensure you have valid certification at all times.

Remedial Works to Improve the Air Tightness on Protected Enclosures
In our experience the majority of room integrity test failures are caused by the lack of enclosure integrity, and/or the ability of the enclosure to adequately retain the extinguishant agent. Often the correct initial design concentration can be achieved but the enclosure is not able to retain the extinguishant agent for the required holding period due to the large amount of air leakage paths.

If the enclosure has failed the room integrity test, remedial work should be undertaken to reduce the air leakage paths within the building envelope, this may include;

  1. Sealing all cracks or penetrations leading into or out of the protected enclosure.
  2. Sealing all pipe chases and cable trays to be sealed around the outside and inside where they penetrate the perimeter boundaries of the protected enclosure
  3. Walls to be caulked around the inside perimeter at the floor and ceiling junctions.
  4. Sealing of porous blockwork walls – this can be remedied by painting and ensuring the mortar joints are full.
  5. The addition of door sweeps or drop seals, weather stripping around jambs.
  6. Sealing of windows/glazed sections to the area
  7. The sealing of the underside of doorways within the floor void.
  8. Ensure that air conditioning dampers are closing properly.

Smoke Testing to Highlight Air Leakage Paths
Smoke testing is one of the best ways of locating air leakage paths. Smoke generators or smoke pencils are used to help identify air leakage paths in the case of a Integrity test failure.

APT’s highly trained and experienced Enclosure Testing Engineers will be able to locate the problem areas and identify where air is leaking out of the building by walking around the test enclosure with a localised smoke puffer, pencil checking the most common problem areas first.

If required we can also undertake a large scale smoke test using a large capacity smoke generator, however this is only usually required on protected enclosures such as large data centers, however on 95% of projects we usually find that by using our experienced Air Tightness Engineers and a smoke puffer the air leakage paths can be accurately located.

The smoke won’t cause any damage to the building; however the building does needs to be emptied of all people for basic Health and Safety reasons, i.e. people falling down stairs or tripping over cables due to the poor visibility. Also, it is very important that the client contacts the local Fire Brigade to inform them of the smoke test to avoid unnecessary call outs and subsequent costs.

By combining our fan testing equipment, we blow the smoke out through any penetrations in in the enclosure envelope; this makes the air paths more visible. Smoke leaking from the enclosure can also be seen outside, and photographed to provide a record of any external leakage paths.

Pressurised Smoke tests are ideal for identifying both generic and torturous areas of air leakage.

Once the smoke test has been completed and a smoke survey report forwarded to the client, targeted remedial works can then be undertaken to seal the building envelope. Once the appropriate remedial work has been undertaken then the enclosure should be retested to confirm if an acceptable level of integrity has been reached.

If you would like some more information in regards to Room Integrity Testing on your protected enclosure, please contact us now at info@airpressuretesting.co.uk or call us direct on: 01525 303905.

Improving Sound Insulation on Existing London Developments

Improving Sound Insulation on Existing London Developments
Many of the dwellings in London consist of flats converted from large Victorian houses.. Unfortunately at the time of the building conversion, designing for sound insulation was not a high priority and so many of the dwellings suffer from adverse noise transference between the floor and wall partitions. This can be extremely stressful to the occupant’s wellbeing is a major cause for concern.

There are ways to improve the airborne and impact performance by improving the wall/floor partitions ability to reduce the amount of sound transmission from one side of a construction element to the other. By isolating the different materials may not be enough its own and you may need to improve the mass of the partition as well.

Improving Existing Floor Partitions
In our experience of undertaking hundreds of sound tests in London, refurbishment projects usually achieve 30-35dB for airborne sound and 70dB for Impact Sound, if the existing construction has not been acoustically upgraded. These figures do not meet the required 43dB & 64dB as stipulated in Part E of Building Regulations. As sound double every 10dB this is a massive failure and acoustic improvements must be made. Many existing construction consist of a similar construction as shown in as detail 1 below.

Detail 1: Existing Floor Partitions Rated At Approx. 30dB

aptimage

Acoustic Improvements to Existing Floor Partitions

To reduce airborne and impact sound transmission this usually means adding density and isolation to the floor construction. This can be as simple as adding a drop ceiling consisting of 125mm timber frame. The top of the frame must be a minimum of 25mm below the existing ceiling finish – such as lathe and plaster. Then, to the inside of the timber frame add 100mm of Acoustic Wool and two layers of sound-board tacked to the bottom of the timber frame – all boards to be lapped. This should improve your sound test results by approx. 10-15dB depending on the existing site conditions and quality of the installation. Detail 2 shows this in more detail.

Detail 2: Acoustic Flooring Partition Upgrade

aptimage2

Improving Existing Wall Partitions
The standard onsite construction for existing internal walls may be a mixture of 100mm masonry with render applied to either side; or, 100mm timber partition with lathe and plaster to either side. Unfortunately neither of these existing wall constructions will have the acoustic properties to pass Part E in their existing state due to lack of mass and poor isolation values.   

Improving Wall Partitions
One way to quick and simple way improve the acoustic performance of a the dividing wall partition, is to install a 70mm metsec partition in front of the existing wall – its usually best to install this in the largest room. Leave approx. 25mm gap between the back of the metsec and the wall. Then install 50mm acoustic wool to the inside of the metsec and add two layers of soundboard to the outside of the metsec frame, ensuring all boards are properly lapped and the perimeter joints are filled with acoustic mastic.

Taking the above into account is it essential that the acoustic design is addressed right from the start of the refurbishment project, so it prevents delays in handover, i.e. to prevent the dwelling failing the sound testing at building control signoff stage.– a common problem.

We can also offer acoustic design advice and UKAS sound testing on existing flats to ensure that the building handover is not delayed due to noncompliance with Part E. We can also undertake sample sound testing on projects where clients are worried about existing ‘hybrid’ construction/s to help highlight the existing noise levels so acoustic upgrades – if required) can be quickly targeted and implemented.

If you would like advice on your acoustic design or require sound insulation testing in London, please visit the Sound Testing Website, contact us now on 07775623464 or contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk.

Business:            APT Sound Testing

URL:                   http://www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk/

The Different Types of Sound Testing

The Different Types of Sound Testing
Sound Insulation Testing needs to be carried out between pairs of rooms separated by party walls or floors. In most cases the rooms to be sound tested will be the two main habitable rooms – living rooms and bedrooms. The sound testing procedure involves setting up a noise source in a room on one side of the party wall or floor and measuring the noise on both sides of the partition.

Sound Testing for Part E of Building Regulations has been a mandatory requirement since July 2003. All new build dwellings and conversions which were built after this date require 10% of each party wall/floor construction type to be tested.

There are two mains types of sound tests that need to be carried out prior to the building handover, they are:

Airborne Sound Tests
Airborne sound tests  are usually required between horizontally and vertically separated pairs of rooms. The sound tests are undertaken by using a sound source, amplifier and loudspeaker to generate a high noise level in one room (the source room). Noise measurements are then taken in both the source and receiver rooms using a prescribed number of source and microphone positions. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured. From the results, the airborne sound insulation (DnT,w + Ctr) is calculated and compared to the requirements of Approved Document E. For new build projects you are required to achieve 45dB for airborne sound testing through walls and floors and 62dB for Impact sound testing for floors. For refurbishment projects this changes to 43dB for airborne and 64dB for impact.

Impact Sound Tests
For vertically separated rooms, an Impact sound test may also be required. This sound test is undertaken using a “tapping machine”, (as above) which drops a series of weights onto the floor of the upper room. The noise level in the lower (receiver) room is measured for a prescribed number of source and microphone locations. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured. From the results, the impact sound insulation (L’nT,w) is calculated and compared to the requirements of Approved Document E.
APT Sound Testing Services
Airborne Sound Testing of Building Facades For the sound testing of external facades we place the loudspeaker outside  the  building  at a distance of 5m from the facade with  the  angle  of  sound incidence  equal  to  45° ± 5°  and  such  that  the  real  traffic  noise  impact  is simulated  the  best  possible  way.  The speaker and amplifier are used to generate a steady random noise signal via the loudspeaker source. The sound pressure levels are then measured at 2m in front of the facade plane and 1.5m above the ground.

All APT’s test engineers carry the latest Norsonic sound testing equipment, which are class one rating. All of our sound testing is completed to a strict quality controlled standard. We provide full ISO & UKAS complaint sound testing.

If you would like more information in regards to sound testing please contact us 01525 303905 or visit the APT Sound Testing website today.

Business:             APT Sound Testing

URL:                       www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk  

Sound Insulation Testing & Part E of Building Regulations

Sound Insulation Testing & Part E of Building Regulations
Sound insulation testing is usually undertaken near the end of a project to show that the party wall and floors meet the Building Regulations Approved Document E stipulated performance values.  The method for testing for airborne and impact sound insulation is in full accordance with: the suggested methods presented in BS EN ISO 140-parts 4 & 7: 1998.

Detached houses don’t require sound insulation testing, however if the house has been built on to the end of an existing terrace it usually requires 2 airborne wall tests – 1 through the lower kitchen/lounge and one through the bedroom walls on the upper floors.

Buildings such as apartment blocks often require airborne impact sound tests. Airborne sound insulation tests are normally required between horizontally and vertically separated pairs of rooms i.e. the wall and floor partitions. The sound tests are undertaken by using a sound source, amplifier and loudspeaker to generate a high noise level in one room (the source room). Noise measurements are then taken in both the source and receiver rooms using a prescribed number of source and microphone positions. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured. From the results, the airborne sound insulation (DnT,w + Ctr) is calculated and compared to the requirements of Approved Document E.

Thereafter impact sound testing may also be required for vertically separated dwellings. Impact sound insulation testing is undertaken using a “tapping machine”, which drops a series of weights/small hammers onto the floor of the upper room. The noise level in the lower (receiver) room is measured for a prescribed number of source and microphone locations. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured. From the results, the impact sound insulation (L’nT,w) is calculated and compared to the requirements of Approved Document E.

When it comes to refurbishment projects i.e. large houses converted into flats and/or an office block into flats we can undertake a sample sound test of the existing wall and floor construction. Once we have established the sound levels for the existing construction we can then look at extent of the acoustic upgrades to attain Part E Compliance. This is much more effective than just forwarding an acoustic design that may be to excessive and expensive, especially when the existing construction is already ‘acoustically’ robust and therefore only needs to improve by a 1-3dB.

The sound insulation levels required to pass Part E are usually 45dB for airborne wall and floors and 62dB for Impact Sound Testing on new build and 43dB for airborne wall and floors and 64dB for Impact for converted properties. Sometimes a higher target may be required in-line with the Code for Sustainable Homes; this is usually in defined in the following figures +3, 5 & 8dB. Obviously if you need to comply with the Code then special attention must be shown to the acoustic design from the offset. APT Sound Testing can help you to achieve this more robust design criteria. We can also help if your building fails the sound insulation testing by offering a targeted acoustic design solution saving time and potential costs.

The amount of sound insulation tests you require depends on the size of the development. All new build properties and conversions require 10% of each party wall/floor construction type to be tested, i.e. if you have 10 flats you would require 1 x 6 pack, this consists of 2 airborne wall, 2 airborne floor & 2 Impact sound tests. However if you have 11 units this would rise to 12 Sound Tests or 2 x 6 pack. Sometimes more tests may be required if you have many different types of walls and floors, however we will always try to propose the minimum testing required to comply with Part E.

We also offer planning noise surveys comply with BS8233 and BS4142, this allows us to provide all you acoustic requirements in one easy package; reducing cost and improving onsite co-ordination. Air Pressure Testing is UKAS accredited to undertake both Sound and Air Tightness Testing and is also accredited to ISO 17025:2005 ‘General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories’

If you have a project that requires sound insulation testing and you are unsure how to comply with Part E of Building Regulations then contact us now, we can propose a sound testing schedule that should comply with Part E. If you are unsure of your projects acoustic requirements please visit the APT Sound Testing website or call us on 07775623464. 

Business:             APT Sound Testing

URL:                       http://aptsoundtesting.co.uk/

Pre-completion Sound Testing

Pre-completion Sound Testing
Sound Insulation Testing which is completed near the end of a development to show that the performance of the party divides meets the Building Regulations Approved Document E stipulated performance values. The testing methods for airborne and impact sound insulation is in full accordance with: the suggested methods presented in BS EN ISO 140-parts 4 & 7: 1998.

Apartment blocks often require airborne wall, floor and impact sound tests. Airborne sound tests are normally required between horizontally and vertically separated pairs of rooms. The sound tests are undertaken by using a sound source, amplifier and loudspeaker to generate a high noise level in one room (the source room).

Noise measurements are then taken in both the source and receiver rooms using a prescribed number of source and microphone positions. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured. From the results, the airborne sound insulation (DnT,w + Ctr) is calculated and compared to the requirements of Approved Document E.

For or vertically separated rooms impact sound testing may also be required. This sound test is undertaken using a “tapping machine”, which drops a series of weights/small hammers onto the floor of the upper room. The noise level in the lower (receiver) room is measured for a prescribed number of source and microphone locations. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured. From the results, the impact sound insulation (L’nT,w) is calculated and compared to the requirements of Approved Document E.

The sound levels required are usually 45dB for airborne wall and floors and 62dB for Impact Sound Testing. For converted properties the sound levels change to 43dB for airborne wall and floors and 64dB for Impact. the amount of sound tests you require depends on the size of the development. All new build properties and conversions require 10% of each party wall/floor construction type to be tested, i.e. if you have 10 flats you would require 1 x 6 pack, this consists of 2 airborne wall, 2 airborne floor & 2 Impact sound tests. However if you have 11 units this would rise to 12 Sound Tests or 2 x 6 pack.

If you are complying with code for sustainable homes the standard required may rise between 3-8dB so if you need to comply with more stringent standard, than it’s worth asking us to undertake an acoustic design review. For a small fee you have a peace of mind that the acoustic elements will be robust enough to pass the sound insulation test.

We also undertake air tightness testing to comply with part L as well as part E. This allows our clients receive Sound & Air Testing in one easy package; thus reducing cost and improving onsite co-ordination. Air Pressure Testing is UKAS accredited to undertake Air & Sound Testing and is also accredited to ISO 17025:2005 ‘General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories’

If you have a project that requires air and sound testing and you are unsure how to comply with Part E of Building Regulations then contact APT Sound Testing now, we can propose a sound testing schedule that should comply with Part E. Please contact us via our website: www.airpressuretesting.net or telephone us on 01525 303905 and with consultants nationwide, we can offer an extremely proactive cost effective service.

Business:         Air Pressure Testing

URL:                www.airpressuretesting.net

Designing Buildings to Pass Sound Testing

Designing Buildings to Pass Sound Testing
From the very start of the design phase of a new building, it’s extremely important that careful consideration is given to the acoustic element the building.

By getting us involved at the start of the design process we can undertake a comprehensive acoustic design reviews and on-going site surveys. We always advocate meeting with the design team at the earliest opportunity to go through all acoustic elements for the building’s design, taking into account the site constraints and the most cost effective method of achieving Part E of Building Regulations. We try to forward of any possible ‘onsite’ construction problems and difficulties in achieving successful acoustic construction and subsequently the sound testing for Part E.

Once we have completed the acoustic design review our services don’t finish there. We provide the site team with on-going design support and site visits. You will have direct contact with the allocated acoustician from the start of the process through to the successful completion of the project.

Once the first phase of the building is completed, we can undertake sample sound testing to ensure the acoustic design and onsite construction methods are sufficient to pass Part E sound testing.

When it comes to refurbishment projects i.e. house converted into flats and/or an office block into flats we can undertake a sample test of the existing wall and floor construction. Once we have established the sound levels for the existing construction we can then look at extent of the acoustic upgrades to attain Part E Complaisance. This is much more effective than just forwarding an acoustic design that may be to excessive and expensive when the existing construction is already ‘acoustically’ robust and therefore only needs to improve by a few dB.

One problem we often encounter (without our design input) is that the building marginally fails during the sound test. The potential problem that is often overlooked is that many types of acoustic design/materials have attained an acoustic rating within a laboratory. It is very difficult and extremely unlikely that the sound levels achieved on a construction site will be as good as in the confines of a stringent laboratory environment.

When the construction assembly is tested in the lab, it is also certified and an exact description of the materials and the installation techniques are described in detail and followed to the letter, obviously this should be replicated on the your site as closely as possible, however this seldom happens. This is one of the reasons why a 5dB point difference is allowed between the construction design on paper and the actual on site construction performance. When you consider that sound doubles every 10dB, then 5dB can make a huge difference to the overall performance of the dividing partition under test. If consideration is not allowed for during the design process then there will be a greater chance of a sound test failure on your project.

Another potential problematic area of sound transference and potential sound test failures is down to flanking sound. Noise flanking is when travels along a continuous path due to insufficient isolation/break within the building wall & floor elements. One of the most common flanking paths is along the inner leaf of an external cavity wall. This may be due to lightweight block construction resulting insufficient mass to prevent noise transference.

Unwanted noise travelling along flanking paths makes the building structure vibrate and this causes the sound to radiate into your room. One solution is to build another wall or ceiling in front of the original, but not connected to it (often called an independent wall or ceiling). APT can help to locate the flanking sound and propose a cost effective design that will pass the sound testing and satisfy Part E of Building Regulations.

For the smaller projects, we undertake a more simplified acoustic design service consisting of a review of the design drawings, such as to floor plans and sections. This usually takes place straight after planning has been approved as increased cost savings can be realised at the earliest stage. We can also undertake sample sound testing if the client is not sure of the existing onsite construction.

We can then evaluate the building design to ensure that it the walls and floors are capable of meeting the acoustic requirements of Approved document E.

Some of the main areas we consider are:

  • There are no potential flanking points, where isolated partitions are wrongly mechanically fixed together to caused noise bridging or the wrong materials have been specified such as lightweight blocks etc.
  • 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 many areas that get missed.
  • Acoustic floor treatments are compatible with the proposed floor finishes i.e. Carpets, Laminates, Floor Tiles and under floor heating systems.
  • The Lighting specification to, ensure they are acoustically complaint to the overall design i.e. down lighter design etc.

If you would like more information in regards to sound testing please follow our blog at: http://soundtestinguk.blogspot.co.uk/, or contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or visit the APT Sound Testing website.

Business:             APT Sound Testing

URL:                       www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk

Planning Noise Surveys

Planning Noise Surveys
We carry out noise surveys to PPG24, or “Planning Policy Guidance note 24. This document is designed to guide local authorities on the use of their planning powers to minimise the impact of noise on a proposed development. PPG24 is published by the DCLG and is used by local authorities throughout England and Wales.

The purpose of a PPG24 noise survey is to ensure that future occupiers of a development will be able to sleep at night and enjoy their living rooms and gardens by day. PPG24 noise survey makes reference to internal and external acceptable noise levels identified in WHO guidelines on community noise and BS8233.

The purpose of a PPG24 noise survey is to assess the noise levels on a proposed site to ensure occupiers will not be adversely affected by noise from sources such as roads, railways and aircraft and are usually required at the planning application stage of a residential development.

Our acoustic services are carried out by APTs UKAS qualified testers, who can provide you with all the advice and guidance you need once the sites noise levels have been established.

Our service includes the following features:

  • All tests carried out by experienced  acoustic engineers
  • National coverage throughout England and Wales.
  • Fully accredited and accepted by all  Planning Authorities
  • Easy to understand reporting format
  • Design advice once the noise levels have been established.

The noise assessment and report will also offer advice on how to achieve reasonable internal noise levels within the bedroom and living areas in-line with BS8233 and also garden areas where applicable. Simple upgrades could be an upgraded glazing specification or the installation of an acoustic fence or re-orientating the development so that habitable rooms do not face the noise source. A noise assessment is conducted by an acoustic consultant to assess the noise levels from sources such as entertainment/industrial building, roads, rail and aircraft. The survey should identify both daytime noise levels between 07:00-23:00 and night time noise levels between 23:00-07.00. The noise survey should be carried out over a typical working day, i.e. not weekends or bank holidays as the noise environment for these periods are unlikely to be typical.

What noise survey methods are accepted?
Usually the local environmental protection team, will be able to advise on the methods used for a noise survey. However as a general rule the following methods will be accepted provided they are suitable for the project/development. Please note this is not an exhaustive list:

  • PPG24 for the assessment of noise affecting noise sensitive developments near to existing sources of noise, mainly relating to traffic sources. A full 24- hour noise survey is normally required although the shortened measurement procedure in the Calculation of Road Noise (CRTN) can be used if appropriate.
  • BS4142:1997 for the assessment of industrial noise that may affect existing residential property, mainly used for fixed industrial plant such as fans.

More Information on Noise Surveys for Planning Noise affecting noise sensitive developments near to existing sources of noise, mainly relating to traffic sources are set out in NEC category B and above, APT Acoustics will look for noise reduction measures to be put in place that will achieve the “good” internal noise level criteria in bedrooms and living rooms set out in BS8233:1999.

For outdoor garden areas, noise levels should be less than or equal to 55 dB(A) as recommended in the World Health Organisation Guidelines on Community Noise. Where the noise levels are shown as NEC category D, the EPT would recommend that planning consent be refused; although, in isolated cases this decision can be overturned if adequate noise control measure can be implemented to the development.

For clarification the noise exposure categories, which the local planning authority would determine are:

  • NEC A. Noise need not be considered as a determining factor in granting planning. The noise level at the high end of the category should not be regarded as a desirable level.
  • NEC B. Noise should be taken into account when determining planning applications and, where appropriate, conditions imposed to ensure an adequate level of protection against noise.
  • NEC C. Planning permission should not normally be granted. Where it is considered that permission should be given, for example because there are no alternative quieter sites available, conditions should be imposed to ensure a commensurate level of protection against noise.
  • NEC D. Planning permission should normally be refused. After we have carried out the noise survey, APT can offer noise mitigation advice to help your project attain planning approval. If you would like more information please contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk.

Business:             APT Sound Testing

URL:                       info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk

Ceiling Treatments to Improve Sound Testing

Ceiling Treatments to Improve Sound Testing
When our clients have a problem with sound transmissions through floors we generally advice that secondary ceilings are a minimum of 100mm deep, however if the available ceiling height is in place, such as a Victorian house with ceilings in excess of  2.8m the optimum improvements are achieved with depths of 250mm. Generally the greater the ceiling void depth and the less direct connection between the secondary ceiling and the original floor structure, the better the improvement in your sound test results.

Where we have encountered much tighter ceiling tolerances where secondary ceiling depth is at a premium the choice of fixing mechanism may compensate for the limited depth, in this case the use of composite supports such as timber battens and metal resilient bars can improve sound insulation with ceiling voids depths of 70mm which invaluable if you existing ceiling is 2.5m or less.

Also by installing absorption layers within the ceiling void such as AW sound insulation can also increase sound insulation for airborne noise and impact noise helping you to pass the Part E sound testing. However, care should be taken the correct installation of electrical cables to prevent overheating. In all instances the installation must comply with BS 7671.

You must also consider the additional weight of fixings, boards and insulation will increase loading on the original structure. If you are removing lathe and plaster and installing a resilient layer and a single layer of sound board then this shouldn’t be a problem. However if a large amount of upgrades are required then specialist advice from structural engineers should be sought to check if the existing structure can accommodate the additional loads.

In our experience one easy way to provide adequate isolation is the through the installation of metal resilient bars. The resilient bars are typically 11–16mm thick and vary in design and resilience. Resilient bars should never be mounted directly to the underside of an existing ceiling as this creates full contact between the ceiling and the resilient bar for its full length which may result in a sound test failure.

When your existing structure has both concrete and timber floors, where the existing ceiling is not being removed and resilient bars are being used, it is always preferable to install a 50 x 50mm timber batten and then mount the resilient bar perpendicular to the brander, i.e. the resilient bars should run across the batten’s to allow for the minimal contact.

If you are utilising an existing concrete floor and you are removing the existing ceiling the timber battens should be used prior to installing the resilient bars. In the case of joist floors the resilient bars may be directly connected to the joists provided they are perpendicular (at right angles) to the direction of the joist.

Using absorption layers, such as mineral wool within the ceiling voids can improve sound insulation for speech, TV and general living noise. However, the primary pathways for sound may not always be through the floor or ceiling cavities but via the floor joists and perimeter walls. In such cases, placing quilts or absorbent layers within the floor voids may only a limited effect. Mounting additional ceiling boards directly to the existing ceiling, where the ceiling is directly fixed to joists, will marginally increase the mass and ceiling however it doesn’t always make much difference to the overall sound insulation performance. In this instance you may also need to install a resilient layer to the walls or build an independent wall in front of the existing walls to pass the Part E sound testing.

Another common source of complaint of poor noise levels in flats can be related to drainage runs, drainage stacks or soil and vent pipes (SVPs). The most common method to reduce noise transmission from services is to enclose pipe runs or stacks in a generic lining or proprietary lining system.

In our experience generic solutions are normally less expensive than proprietary systems but may be more time consuming to fit. In both cases the wrapped insulation should completely surround the pipe and the boxing and gypsum board should not come into direct contact with the pipe or pipe fixings. It’s often prudent to use two layers of lapped gypsum board for the outer lining.

Where there are horizontal pipe runs through separating floors either in the ceiling void or in floor cavities between timber joists these may require to be wrapped and boxed with two layers of lapped gypsum-based board. In some cases it is difficult to box these services and so heavy proprietary pipe wrap systems involving multi-layered materials may be required.

We believe in working with our clients whether they are existing home owners needing minor acoustic upgrades or large developers requiring a more expansive service to achieve sound testing compliance. We believe that by being involved at the beginning of a project we can often save our clients expensive and difficult remedial works at the completion stage of a project by avoiding sound test failures

If you would like more information on our full range of services please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call us on 07775 623464

Business:       APT Sound Testing

URL:               http://aptsoundtesting.co.uk/