Green Term Defined: Blower Door Test


IR_0137The most important cost-effective construction solution used to lower energy bills is a reduction of air-leakage. The test used to determine air tightness in a home is required in the 2009 International Residential Code, it is called a blower door test. However, there is a second compliance method, the visual inspection, that most builders in Virginia use to show compliance.

blower doorBuilding code specifies that “the building thermal envelope shall be durably sealed to limit infiltration.”  Unfortunately the visual inspection provision weakens this requirement to a point that it makes no impact on most homes being constructed. The blower door is the only effective way to determine total air leakage and verify the home is as air tight as required by the building code (the worst possible construction allowed by law).

A blower door test is used to determine total air leakage of a home’s thermal envelope. The powerful fan is installed in an exterior door and the house is depressurized. The result is a measure of the home’s air tightness. This test simulates the air leakage typical in a building that uses forced air heating and cooling  as well as those that result from weather conditions. Every home should have a blower door test in order to find the leaks and reduce the money wasted each month on an inefficient thermal envelope.

 

 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Johnnie Barr says:

    Who are contractors that you would recommend to do a blower door test?

    On Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 9:03 AM, DESIGN MATTERS wrote:

    > The Gaines Group – Harrisonburg Studio posted: “The most important > cost-effective construction solution used to lower energy bills is a > reduction of air-leakage. The test used to determine air tightness in a > home is required in the 2009 International Residential Code, it is called a > blower door test. H”

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  2. Building Knowledge does a good job. I highly recommend Benjamin.

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  3. Hey Charles-

    Do you know if there is a difference in test protocol between this test and the one used for commercial construction? If so, it would be interesting to know what that is.

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  4. George, commercial building testing is not often done due to the amount of time it takes to prepare the building for the test and the size of the blower door equipment needed. There are standards for testing a commercial building:
    ASTM E 779: Standard Test Method for Determining Air Leakage Rate by Fan Pressurization.
    ASTM C 1060: Standard Practice for Thermography Inspection of Insulation Installations in Envelope Cavities of Framed Buildings.
    ASTM E 1186: Standard Practices for Air Leakage Site Detection in Building Envelopes and Air Barrier Systems.
    ASTM E 1827: Standard Test Methods for Determining Air tightness of Buildings Using an Orifice Blower Door.
    ASTM E 2178: Standard Test Method for Air Permeance of Building Materials.
    ISO 6781: Thermal Insulation – Qualitative Detection of Thermal Irregularities in Building Envelopes – Infrared Method First Edition.
    US Army Corps of Engineers: Air Leakage Test Protocol for Building Envelopes – Version 3

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