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Top 5 Blog Posts

Sunday, January 10 2021

Did you know that when you participate in a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR project on your home that the results are actually measurable?

Is there any other home improvement project that when it is all said and done you can actually test and get immediate, unbiased results?  I can't think of any!

Let's take replacement windows as an example.  Often times windows are replaced around a home to improve comfort and reduce drafts.  But, results are typically subjective and more times than not there is a walk away feeling for both the homeowner and contractor that the windows did not really perform, but there is not much anyone can do now.

Home performance work on the other hand is instantly measurable and to take matters further, a home performance project actually focuses in on physical attributes of your home to really move the comfort needle in your favor. 

ANALOGY: If a jet is not able to take off from the runway, do you want the airline company mechanic to just fix a perceived issue and give it a whirl, or would you rather the technician employ diagnostic tools, real time onboard computer information and proper calculations to get the plane back in the air? 

Of course we all want the more informed approach to ensure our safe return to flight.

So how does this work in home performance you ask?  How can we be sure to target the right connections to the outside in a home so that we can get the results we want?

The blower door test!  A blower door test does two things...

First, it measures the leakage rate of your home.  It quantifies the amount of air that leaves through a large industrial sized fan that essentially "sucks" the air out of your home.

Physics demands that for every cubic foot of air that leaves an enclosure, a cubic foot of air will replace it through an crack, crevice, hole, connection, etc.

So as the fan pulls air out and creates a negative pressure fresh outside air is pulled in through all of the outside connection points in your home and as new air enters and flows through the house and back through the fan, a flow rate is achieved and recorded.  This is the starting number to then measure against after the work is completed.

The second benefit of a blower door test is that is allows the contractor and the homeowner to physically inspect the house while the test is running to discover the leakage points in a physical sense - rather than in a hypothetical sense.

This is very important for the average homeowner that has a thousand other things they would rather be doing and rather be learning about.

When a homeowner can actually participate and see that air leakage can be attributed to many other things before windows it has a profound effect. For every leaky window discovered at a blower door test there are five hundred examples of recessed lights that were much worse offenders.

One great example of a home that made huge gains in comfort, reduced drafts and overall energy usage was a home in which not a single window was replaced.  The results from the air leakage test were huge and the customer noticed a difference the first day.

Here are the blower door results as seen on the pressure and flow gauge (manometer).

 

 

The results show a 29% reduction in the leakage of this home.  This means that actual holes in the home's shell were proper sealed and the results have been measured through diagnostic testing.

So, what did we do to treat this house and make huge gains on reducing air leakage you ask?

CRAWL SPACE ENCAPSULATION!!

 

Saturday, January 02 2021

Often times homeowners don't know what a Pepco energy audit is or how it can actually help.

For starters, a Pepco energy audit can help you avoid choosing the wrong solution to a problem around your home. An energy audit through Pepco is a good place to start a home improvement priority list. 

Take the important step of scheduling your Pepco energy audit as soon as you can!

Saturday, January 02 2021

Often times homeowners don't know what a BGE energy audit is or how it can actually help.

For starters, a BGE energy audit can help you avoid choosing the wrong solution to a problem. An energy audit through BGE is a good place to start a home improvement priority list. 

Take the important step of scheduling your BGE energy audit as soon as you can!

Friday, January 01 2021
The Blower Door Test - IECC Energy Code Maryland

IECC Energy Code Testing - Blower Door Test

This beautiful new construction house that was completed in summer 2020 located in New Windsor, MD went through one of it's final steps to pass the energy code in the state of Maryland. IECC Blower Door Test New Windsor Maryland

The blower door test, or air leakage test was performed in accordance with the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). 

The air leakage code requires that a house test at equal to or less than three air changes per hour (3ACH). 

The test was conducted using the ASTM E1827 - single point method. 

The blower door test was conducted five times and each measurement was recorded and entered into the report. 

Each test result yielded an ACH number less than two so the house passed with flying colors. 

In Carroll County Maryland and many other counties across the country, it is important to consider the building envelope during each construction phase so that your house is sealed properly and it can also easily pass the test. 

Tighter houses use less energy and are more comfortable.  In a tighter house you control the home's "breathing" rather than letting your energy dollars escape through the  various holes to the outside around a typical residential building's shell.

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General Guide to Air Sealing a Home

The blower door test will reveal whether these measures were properly taken during the construction of the home.

1. Air barrier and thermal barrier. 

  • A continuous air barrier/pressure boundary must be installed in the building envelope.
  • Exterior thermal envelope contains a continuous air barrier.
  • Breaks or seams/joints in the air barrier must be sealed.
  • Air-permeable insulation (fiberglass batts) should not be used as sealing material.

2. Ceiling/attic

  • The air barrier/pressure boundary in any dropped ceiling/bulkhead/soffit should be aligned
  • with the insulation and any gaps need to be sealed.
  • Access opening, drop down stairs or knee wall doors to unconditioned space should be sealed.

3. Walls

  • Corners and headers should be insulated and the junction of the foundation and sill plate must be sealed.
  • The junction at the top plate and top of exterior walls should be sealed.
  • Wall insulation should be in continuous alignment/contact with the air barrier
  • Kneewalls should be sealed.

4. Windows, skylight and doors

  • The space between window and door jambs and framing as well as skylights and framing should be properly sealed.

5. Rim Joists

  • Rim joists should be air sealed (air barrier) and insulated.
  • Floors (above garage/cantilever)

6. Insulation must be installed and affixed to the underside of the subfloor plywood.

  • The air barrier must be installed at any exposed edge of the insulation.

7. Crawl Space Walls

  • Encapsulation is recommended including installing vapor barrier at the floor, sealing and insulating the walls and disconnecting the space from the outside.

8. Shafts, penetrations

  • Utility penetrations,
  • Shafts for ducts
  • Conduits for wiring
  • Flue chases that open to the outside or unconditioned space should be sealed.

9. Narrow Cavities

  • The proper insulation solution should be used to block and seal any irregular voids.

10. Garage Separation

  • Air sealing should be done between the garage and conditioned spaces.

11. Recessed Lighting

  • Recessed light fixtures installed in the thermal/pressure boundary should be air tight, IC rated and sealed to the drywall.

12. Plumbing and wiring

  • Batt insulation should be cut neatly to conform to any wiring and plumbing located in exterior walls.

13. Shower/tub on exterior wall

  • Outside walls connected to showers and tubs shall be insulated and the air barrier installed separating them from the shower and tub.

14. Electrical/phone box on exterior walls

  • The air barrier must be installed behind electrical and communication panels/boxes or air sealed boxes should be installed.

15. HVAC duct measures

16. Fireplace

  • An air barrier should be installed on fireplace walls and the doors on a fireplace should be gasketed.


Watch the Blower Door Get Set up in 2.5 Minutes


 


 

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