FAQs - sound insulation testing
Frequently asked questions for site-based sound insulation testing
1. What is sound insulation testing?
Sound insulation testing is the measurement of how much sound is stopped by separating walls or floors between residential dwellings, classrooms, hotel rooms, offices, hospitals, warehouses etc. By making a controlled noise on one side of the separating wall or floor and measuring how much sound is being received on the other side, we can tell how much sound is stopped by the structure. It is measured in Decibels (dB).
2. Why is sound testing important?
Sound testing is important because it affects the way we live whether at work, in the home or whilst at leisure. Noise reduction between walls and floors could result in a more comfortable, productive environment.
3. Is it mandatory to determine sound insulation performance?
Yes, sound insulation is covered under Approved Document E of The Building Regulations. There are two ways in which to show compliance. You can either test to the regime set out in Approved Document E (ADE), or pay to use Robust Details. Robust Details are a set of specific design details for walls and floors that have been previously tested to show compliance and must be used if this route is selected. The Robust Details scheme means that testing is not necessary, but is strictly limited to the design given in the Robust Details approved list. Sound testing provides more flexibility by allowing out-of-the-ordinary designs and is often therefore more cost effective in many cases compared to the Robust Details Scheme. Conducting on-site pre-completion sound testing also enables the architects more scope with their design and can lead to improved sound insulation performance.
4. What happens during sound testing and will this disrupt work on site?
The sound test itself produces very high levels of noise but also requires relatively quiet conditions. For these reasons, any workforce in the testing area will have to leave temporarily to ensure test accuracy. Undertaking sound tests on site varies according to the size and complexity of the building project and the site conditions. Generally a sound insulation test takes about 45 minutes for a simple, regular sized project.
5. What happens after testing?
After the sound insulation test, the sound testing engineer will provide provisional results whilst on-site, as well as providing basic feedback about what has been noted during the test, e.g. potential problems or any future areas of concern.
A full report and individual sound test certificates can be generated and sent out the next day
6. What preparation is required/when am I ready?
Sound testing can be done as soon as a number of plots are completed past second fix stage. The site must be clear for the duration of the sound test in order to provide a true dB reading. All internal doors must be hung and all windows fitted and closable. It is important that carpets are not laid for tests which are establishing the performance of the floor.
7. What needs to be sound tested?
The sound testing regime is set out in the Approved Document E of the Building Regulations. It states that one set of tests is required for every 10 units in a group or sub-group. Sub-groups are defined in Section 1 of Approved Document E (ADE). There are three types of grouping criteria that need to be assessed: dwelling houses (including bungalows), flats and rooms for residential purposes, such as student accommodation, hotel rooms, care homes etc. The extent of testing required for these three groups is shown below.
|New build houses
||Set of two tests on the walls only is required
|New build flats
||Set of six tests on separating walls and floors comprising of:
- two airborne wall tests
- two airborne floor tests
- two impact floor tests
||A set of three tests are required:
- one airborne wall test
- one airborne floor test
- one impact floor test
8. How are plots selected for sound testing?
Typically this is left to the discretion of the test engineer, however the local authority building control officer, warranty provider or other concerned parties may wish to test in specific areas.
Sound tests are always conducted between pairs of rooms, so if a wall is to be tested, two plots, side-by-side, must be chosen.
9. What are the common problem areas?
Many aspects of the build can affect the acoustic performance of the separating walls or floors. One of the single largest factors influencing performance is workmanship. Sealing of air paths, clearing of cavities and good detailing are all key aspects in maximising on site performance. Generally, good workmanship for acoustic performance also leads to a better air leakage performance and we strongly advocate this to clients. Sound testing needs to be taken into account very early in the construction stage, to make sure a correct combination of building materials is used to achieve the performances required.
10. What should I look out for in an acoustic test body?
The Building Regulations Part E Section 0.4 says that the testing body should be UKAS accredited, or a member of the ANC (Acoustic Noise Consultants) is acceptable. Exova is both UKAS-accredited to undertake acoustic testing and air tightness testing, which means our engineers are capable of testing for both air and sound on the same visit, keeping down costs.