For those looking to improve building and HVAC performance, a blower door is a must-have. This tool measures and exposes air leaks in buildings, one of the most vital contributors to high construction quality and correct HVAC equipment sizing. The blower door test removes a lot of the guesswork for builders, HVAC contractors, and insulators. It is also mandatory for HERS Raters, energy auditors, and building science consultants. If you are using a blower door, it is clear you care about the quality of your work. Therefore, you are going to want the best product available to allow you to work smarter, not harder. When shopping for a blower door system, here are some questions to consider to ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck.

 

Durability: Will it last? – Not all blower doors are created equally. Remember, you will be hauling this piece of equipment to construction sites and loading and unloading it over and over again. This tool is an investment, so it must stand the test of constant labor over time. Durable blower door fan housings are made with high-impact automotive plastic.  Makroblend® resins have a property profile that includes high toughness (even at low temperatures), good chemical resistance to many lubricants, solvents, and cleaning agents, along with reduced susceptibility to stress cracking. The most durable blower doors also have more fasteners holding the fan shells together.

 

Accuracy: Can I trust the measurements I am taking? – At the end of the day, how reliable your blower door system is comes down to the accuracy and repeatability of your measurements. The most reliable blower door equipment is calibrated by an ISO 17025/ILAC accredited lab which is required in many countries. This goes for both the blower doors and the digital manometers used for airtightness testing. 

 

Your blower door and gauge should come with a NIST traceable calibration certificate. Look for the accreditation seal on your certificates to ensure you have confidence your tool was calibrated with NIST traceability and stated uncertainties. Just as our buildings need third-party testing and verification to be healthy and efficient, the tools that do the testing should also have rigorous third-party evaluations to help ensure top quality.

 

State-of-the-art digital 14-bit pressure sensors provide you with the precision and accuracy, so this is something you should look for in a high-resolution digital manometer. Auto-zero manifolds minimize sensor drift, affecting accuracy over time.

 

Intelligent Design: Is it easy to use and intuitive? – We continually invest in innovation and technological advancement. The Retrotec SmartCloth is an excellent example of this as the reference tubing is sewn into the fabric.  This feature also helps stabilize readings during windy days and helps keep your reference tube out of the wind, rain, and debris.

 

Ergonomic design is also essential to consider. Some blower door manometers allow the user to operate it quickly with one hand, while others require two hands if it’s not attached to the frame. The Retrotec Model 5000 has a built-in USB port that will enable you to keep your digital manometer always charged.  This prevents users from being left without power to the manometer once the test is ready to be conducted.

 

 

Quick Setup and Tear Down: Will it save me time? – There is an old saying that “time is money.” This absolutely applies to the building and HVAC industries when it comes to diagnostic testing. Be sure to select a system that will allow you to set up the equipment, run tests, and pack up as quickly as possible so you can move on to your next task.

 

One thing to look for is color-coded tubing and pressure ports. This allows for quick setup and reduces user error. Other manufacturers do not have a color-coding protocol and can be more confusing to set up. These types of setups can be tricky to remember, especially if you do not test often.

 

The frame design is also a critical time-saving component. Retrotec has the only frame on the market that can be dismantled in one quick motion by snapping it apart. Others must be taken apart piece-by-piece, which adds time.

 

Another thing to consider is the time it takes for the manometer to boot up. Retrotec has the only digital manometer that boots up instantly.

 

Customization and Versatility: What options do I have? – It is always good to have options, and not every tester has the same needs. Look for a blower door system that will serve you well in all 

types of scenarios. Retrotec provides a standard and high-output model to choose from: The Model 5000 (standard-output) and Model 6000 (high-output). Both read the same low flow readings for tighter buildings. Still, the Model 6000 provides more power when needed for larger, leakier buildings.

 

Retotec provides several options for door panels; the SmartCloth with wind dampening cloth, the rigid modular panel for superfast setup, and the stacking panels to customize tests with multiple fans or allow you to make your own panel.

 

Retrotec's manometer also works with competing products. So, if you already own another brand, the DM32 manometer can handle it.

 

Hopefully, this article has shed some light as you continue your quest to find the right blower door system to fit your needs. As you can see, they are not all the same. Just as our buildings continue to improve with new technology and third-party testing procedures, the same goes for our testing equipment. We’re constantly researching new technology to make testing more accurate, faster, and easier while putting ourselves through the most rigorous third-party accreditation processes on the planet. This ensures you get the best possible product. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to sales@retrotec.com or give us a call at 1 (855) 738-7683.