Archive for November 2020

Sound Testing Party Walls in Bedford

We often get asked by our clients in Bedfordshire, how they can improve the sound insulation within Party Walls to pass the sound insulation testing.  To try and simplify this we have written the following article explaining the main acoustic design considerations for undertaking the construction of party walls in dwellings.

To begin with you need to consider the following five basic acoustic design considerations, when upgrading existing walls in flats they are:

  1. Adding Mass 
  2. Providing Isolation
  3. Adding Absorption
  4. Providing Resilience
  5. Adding Stiffness

Reasons for party walls failing the Precompletion Sound Testing  

The are many reasons why party walls fail the pre-completion sound testing for Approved Document E of Building Regulations, the main reasons are: 

  1. Shared Structural Building Components – Floorboards, Floor Joists, Continuous Drywall Partitions, Continuous Concrete Floors, and Cement Block Walls.
  2. Through Structural Steel – Structural steel beams are often a major cause of noise transmission as plasterboard is often fixed directly to the steel without sound breaks.
  3. Plumbing Chases – Junctures between the Walls & Floor Slab Above or at the Exterior Wall Juncture (this should be filed with mortar etc. to add mass to these weakened areas.
  4. Through Windows – if they have single glazing, with no double glazing or secondary glazing as a minimum and the windows are in close proximity either side of the party wall.
  5. Fixtures & Outlets – Light Switches, Telephone Outlets, and Recessed Lighting Fixtures (if penetrations have been cut back to back with the opposite dwelling under test)
  6. Structural Joints – Perimeter Joints at Wall & Floor, Through Wall & Ceiling Junctures (these should be filled with acoustic mastic.
  7. Around the End of the Partition Through the Adjacent Wall (acoustic mastic should be used to seal this junction)

Acoustic wall upgrade for existing flats

One way to quick and simple way improve the acoustic performance of a dividing wall partition, is to install a 70mm met-sec partition in front of the existing wall – it is usually best to install this in the largest room. Leave approx. 25mm gap between the back of the met-sec and the wall. Then install 50mm acoustic wool (min 45kg/m3) to the inside of the met-sec frame, then add 1 x 15mm & 1 x 12.5mm layers of soundboard to the outside of the met-sec frame. Ensure all boards are fully lapped and the perimeter joints are filled with acoustic mastic.

How many airborne sound tests do I need on my party walls?

Essentially, for sound testing party walls, you only need to carry out one type of sound test,  which is airborne sound testing. If you development is 10 units or smaller you are required to carry out 2 airborne wall sound tests, if there are different types of wall construction you may need to undertake further testing to each wall type. The airborne sound insulation test is carried out by means of a loudspeaker emitting a steady source of noise on one side of the partition (wall or floor) to be measured

Preparing your dwelling to pass the party wall sound test

There are quite a few items to consider when preparing your development for the sound insulation testing. Basically, if you action the following items it should help you pass the sound testing at the first attempt avoiding costly delays and extra works: you should action the for the following checklist:

  1. Download our sound testing checklist and tick off the items one by one. 
  2. The whole building envelope and internal walls and floors should be fully completed.
  3. All external and internal doors and walls should be installed.
  4. All external windows should be installed and closing properly. 
  5. All electrical fittings must be completely in-place, and fully functional. Poor electrical installation can lead to excess noise.
  6. Standard 240-volt power should be in-place and available in every room. Our testing equipment can be damaged by the voltage fluctuations of on-site power generators, so it’s essential to have 240V mains supply on-site on the day of the test
  7. No carpets or laminated flooring should be fitted on the 1st floor levels or above. These materials can affect the movement of noise, and as a result could impact on whether a building passes the sound check test.
  8. The skirting boards should not touch the floating floor, a flanking strip should be installed to prevent the noise flanking.
  9. All gaps in the walls and floors should be sealed. Again, noise can leak out through any gaps, affecting the movement of sound and impacting on the space’s performance.
  10. Access to all the rooms on all levels should be granted to our technicians, with all noise sources (radios, alarms, building work) ceasing for the duration of the test.

You need to action, all the above items, if we are to achieve accurate sound test readings.  If any of them are ignored, there is a much greater risk of fail the testing. 

APT can advise on all types of acoustic design to help you pass your sound testing to walls in flats, whether it’s accomplished during initial construction or during a refurbishment or renovation project. 

We are also a UKAS accredited sound testing, so you can be sure of a friendly and professional service providing a ‘one stop’ solution for all your acoustic requirements.

We cover the following areas throughout Bedfordshire, including Kempston, Wilshamstead, Great Barford, Marston Moretaine, Ampthill, Biggleswade, Flitwick, Newport Pagnell and Woburn Sands to help you achieve the requirements of Approved Document E and attain building control signoff. 

If you would like more information in regards to sound testing service and/or acoustic design services in Bedfordshire, please contact us on 01525 303905 or, for more information please visit our website at or download our sound test checklist.

Guide to Efficient Heating and Cooling

Protecting your home is about more than repairing a damaged garage door or replacing old appliances. You better protect your home when everything inside of it, from your HVAC system and beyond, work as efficiently as possible.

If your energy bills are skyrocketing on a monthly basis for seemingly no reason, then you may need to take steps to batten down the hatches around your home. The good news is that there are more than a few steps you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency, lowering your bills and making your home more comfortable to live in as you do. Guide to Efficient Heating and Cooling
Guide to Efficient Heating and Cooling Created By: Foundation Recovery Systems

How Is Your Home Losing Energy?

First off, it’s important to try and determine how, specifically, your home may be wasting energy. Some of the most common causes of energy overuse include:

  • Lack of Insulation – without insulation, the air inside of your home will cycle back and forth between the great outdoors with little regard for your HVAC system’s hard work. As such, you’ll find it much more difficult to control the temperature and moisture levels inside of your home.
  • Gaps and Drafts – hydrostatic pressure that builds up around your home can cause gaps to form between your floors and walls. This pressure can also cause cracks to appear in your foundation, basement, or crawl space. Leaving these gaps and cracks unattended to can cause moisture to flow into your home, even as warm (or cool) air drifts out at an uncontrolled rate.
  • Lack of Energy-Efficient Materials – it is also possible that you or a previous owner may have forgone more energy-efficient building materials in favor of more affordable ones. While this isn’t a bad thing, those materials may cost you a pretty penny if you don’t replace them with more efficient alternatives.

Saving Money With Energy-Efficient Home Materials

As you’re weighing the pros and cons of making your home more energy-efficient, you’ll want to consider what costs you may be cutting with your investments. Some of the most common benefits of improving your home’s use of energy include:

  • Saving twenty percent on your energy bill after encapsulating your crawl space
  • Saving between five and thirty percent on your energy bill after sealing air leaks professionally or with your own tools
  • Saving ten percent on your energy bill after installing a programmable thermostat to lower the temperature in your home at night
  • Saving between twelve and thirty-three percent on your energy bill after installing storm windows
  • Saving up to fifteen percent on your energy bill when using an EnergyStar gas furnace

Checking Your Home’s Thermal Performance

Much of the time, your home loses energy due to an imbalance in thermal performance.

As the seasons change, the warmer air in your home makes its way to your upper floors. In the meanwhile, cooler and moisture air will drop down into your basement and crawl space, as this air is denser than dry, hot air. The build-up of moist air in your basement and crawl space can bring about the Stack Effect, or an effect within your home that sees cool, damp air circulate throughout your home, making your HVAC system inefficient, even as it continues to run.

Poor thermal performance within a home can cost you a significant sum over the course of a year. If you notice humidity levels rising throughout your home, you’ll want to work quickly to try and either compensate for the sudden influx of moisture or to find that moisture’s source and patch it.

Why Should You Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency?

It takes a lot of time to improve your home’s energy efficiency. New homeowners may be reluctant to take on the challenge of swapping out energy inefficient materials or checking over the more sensitive rooms of their homes for damage. Doing so, after all, requires a designated repair budget in addition to determination and a willingness to ask for help.

However, if you take the steps to start repairing your home and otherwise working to protect your space from unwanted leakage, you’ll find yourself saving money in the long-run. The sooner you can work to prevent your HVAC from overworking, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy the comforts of your home with as little stress as possible.

That said, the benefits of improving your home’s energy efficiency don’t stop at lower electric bills. You can also write off many energy-efficient home improvements on your yearly taxes. Above all else, though, you’ll be doing your part to help the environment and live more harmoniously with the world around you.

Are you ready, then, to inspect your home for signs of air leakage? You can reach out to a professional in your area to better understand what to look for and what home improvement solutions may best suit your needs.