Air Leakage Testing
Posted: May 30, 2019||
Building and HVAC performance testers around the world rely on calibrated fans and pressure gauges to determine the construction quality of building envelopes, duct systems, and other building components. These tools include blower doors and duct testers which have been used for decades to measure the air tightness of certain assemblies. For these tools to become and remain accurate, they must be calibrated by the manufacturer once they are built and re-calibrated after a certain period specified by the manufacture. With Retrotec tools, this is every five years for gauges and fans.
Blower doors and duct testers have become important tools for high-performance builders. A longtime industry veteran looks a how we got here and what's next
This is the first of what will be a monthly column with my observations on the art and science of high-performance building and home testing. In this first column, I want to introduce myself and help you understand why you should care about these topics.
My name is Ben Walker and since May of 2017, I've been co-CEO of Retrotec, the world's largest manufacturer of blower door and duct testing equipment. Our products help designers and builders reduce building energy use, which contributes to a cleaner, healthier environment. That contribution is what gets me up every day.
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
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
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
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
Posted: June 07, 2018||
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
As you may have heard, the RESNET 380 standard will replace RESNET Ch. 8 which dictates how raters test homes for envelope leakage, duct leakage, mechanical ventilation, and duct system air flows. Any home permitted on or after July, 1 2018 must be tested in accordance to the 380 Standard. The standard currently applies to all single-family homes as well as multifamily projects that are three stories or less. There are more updates coming for multifamily so make sure you are signed up to receive email updates from RESNET.
One goal of the 380 standard is to improve consistency throughout the HERS process and to reduce the need for Raters to make judgement calls when taking measurements in the field. To help achieve this, the standard includes definitions for:
- Conditioned Space Volume
- Unconditioned Space Volume
Posted: August 30, 2017||
As required by Washington State Code, all commercial multi-unit residential structures are required to have air barrier testing performed to ensure they meet the state requirements for infiltration levels. During the construction process special procedures, materials and methods are utilized to ensure the airtight integrity of the inside and outside of the building are maintained. Yet even when
Written by Stacie Bagnasco, July 26, 2017.
In California the California Energy Commission [CEC] aka Energy Standards, provide two basic methods for complying with low-rise residential energy budgets: the prescriptive approach and the performance approach. The mandatory measures must be installed with either of these approaches, but mandatory measures may be superseded by more stringent measures under either approach.
The prescriptive approach, composed of a climate zone dependent prescriptive package is less flexible but simpler than the performance approach. Each energy component o