Blog

  1. Commercial Building Enclosure Testing

    Authored By: Sam Myers

    As building codes and owner expectations evolve, more commercial buildings across the United States are being designed to meet standards that reduce air leakage through the building enclosure. Some states are adding air tightness and testing requires to their building codes. There are also several third-party standards that require tighter building enclosures such as LEED and the Army Corps of Engineers.  The presence of a tighter building enclosure allows for lower utility bills, provides the ability to size mechanicals correctly, improves indoor air quality and reduces issues due to moisture brought in by outside air. According to the Building Env

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  2. Duct Testing Best Practices

    Authored By: Sam Myers

    Testing ductwork in residential HVAC systems for air tightness is essential to ensure a home will be energy efficient and comfortable. Tighter ducts help homes perform better by allowing conditioned air to travel to its intended destination. They also keep newly conditioned air from escaping to the outside of the home. More states and municipal code jurisdictions are including duct sealing and testing requirements in their energy codes for residential new construction. It is also a part of the RESNET HERS Rating process as well as a function of BPI Analysts when they perform energy audits. There are two methods used for testing ducts: Total duct leakage and leakage to outside (LTO). It is best to verify with local code requirements to see which method is specified. Some state a

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  3. Stay Safe Long after the Storm - Steps to Make Sure your House is Healthy after Hurricane Florence

    By: Sam Myers, Retrotec and Kristi Brodd, Advanced Energy

    Hurricane Florence brought record amounts of rainfall and devastating flooding across North Carolina, especially in the eastern part of the state. According to CNN measurements, some cities saw close to 3 feet of rain over four days, which is the highest rainfall total for any tropical system to hit the East Coast of the United States.

    As flooding recedes, many people are returning to their homes and beginning the restoration process. If you are moving back into a home that was flooded, it is extremely important to become knowledgeable on moisture management and take the necessary steps to keep your house safe and healthy for you and your family. Just because the water is gone and your house looks back to normal, does not mean that there is no damage or dangerous mold behind the walls, floors and ceiling.

    Many families suffered the effects of mold after flooding caused by Hurricane Floyd in 1999

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  4. Why does FanTestic start at the highest pressure first?

    We start at the highest pressure and work downward for two reasons. 

    1. It helps the fans reach the target pressures faster. The speed control algorithm works faster going from a higher pressure to a lower pressure.
    2. It helps you properly select your Range Ring for the test. By starting with the largest possible range (highest flow) to test at your highest pressure you ensure the minimum possible range changes while testing. Ideally, you don't want to change ranges in mid test because it wastes time. 
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  5. Why does my Q4 (flow at 4 Pa) result have such high uncertainty?

    You need to consider that there is a fundamental issue of uncertainty with using 4 Pa as a reference pressure. Just imagine, if there is even a 1 Pa fluctuation, due to so many possible sources that can cause pressure fluctuations as you know, the pressure measurement already has an uncertainty of +/- 25% error. Consider that for almost all airtightness testing standards across the world, the reference pressure for Flow results are either 50 Pa or 75 Pa.

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  6. Is using a positive duct test pressure advantageous?

    The main disadvantage to positive duct test pressure is that it blows off register seals or makes them leak. An LBL study showed a wide dispersion of results when the same duct test was repeated many times.  Depressurizing will allow the use of lower sticking masking materials that are less likely to pull off the paint. In some cases plastic food wrap will work.

    The main advantage to positive duct test pressure is that the flex duct doesn't contract as much. In cases where the flex runs to the ceiling this contraction effect might cause problems.

    Testing using depressurization will usually result in less leakage because gaps and seams will be pulled closed”

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  7. Quick Tips for Testing Ducts at Rough-Ins

    Authored By: Sam Myers

    Whether it’s for a building code, third-party home performance program, HERS rating or quality control, testing ducts on new construction homes before the drywall is installed is a good idea to easily fix issues. Once the drywall is installed, it can be difficult to access certain parts of the duct system that need air sealing, especially if there are ducts in chases or between floors. Sometimes it can be tricky to set up your duct tester at rough-in since you typically don’t have a grille to tape the flange to, especially if the return is in the ceiling. Unfortunately, duct mask doesn’t stick to wood and mastic ver

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  8. Get More From Your Blower Door

    A comprehensive guide to getting the most out of your blower door system
    Authored By: Sam Myers

    A blower door system can do much more than tell you how much your building is leaking. It can also help you determine the location and severity of the leaks in different zones. There are also cases where you can use your blower door to determine if some ventilation systems are working properly. Knowing the tightness of a home and finding leaks is helpful to HERS Raters, BPI analysts, insulators and HVAC contractors. In this article we’ll introduce the blower door system and ho

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  9. United States Home Energy Performance Averages

    This image shows how a house’s natural stack effect pulls air in from the bottom and pushes it out through the top.When it comes to home energy performance, comfort, durability and health, the United States falls short in the ranks compared to other developed countries. This is based on the 35 years of experience that Colin Genge has in testing houses from coast to coast and from selling diagnostic tools to over 10,000 technicians who have tested millions more.

    Duct leakage in existing homes can range from 12% to 35%.

    Most American houses have poor quality flex duct running outside of the envelope into attics and/or crawlspaces and typically leak an average of about 20%. Some as high as 50%! Code for new

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  10. A Brief History of Retrotec’s Involvement with Home Performance

    In 1980 I calibrated the fledgling Retrotec Energy Innovations Ltd.’s blower door at the National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa, Canada.  It used RPM and pressure drop to crudely measure flow.  Little did I know that what I learned from the head air flow scientist at NRC would result in a 38-year long career making Retrotec the largest calibrated door fan manufacturer in the World.

    Retrotec stands for retrofit technology, which means fixing houses after they’re built.  Our first blower doors were designed to perform energy audits on these houses using their in-house energy analysis software based on HOT2000.  It ran on a 32k pocket computer.   Currently known as Home Performance (HP), this application was promoted by Retro

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