Professional Air Sealing

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Why Have Your Home Professionally Air Sealed?

The Department of Energy states “Most homes in the United States don’t have enough insulation and have significant air leaks.  In fact, if you added up all the leaks, holes, and gaps in a typical home’s envelope, it would be the equivalent of having a window open every day of the year.”

The Building Performance Industry (BPI) defines air conditioned or heated space within a home as the home’s “envelope” or the “thermal envelope.”    According to BPI, the optimal amount of air that should move through your home is .35 air changes per hour at 50 paschals.  

 

You Deserve the Benefits that Professional Air Sealing Provides

 

Reduced Energy Waste 

If your home isn’t tight enough, you are wasting energy and likely paying too much on your utility bills.  This is because you are having to pay to condition air that is being pulled through the cracks and imperfections in the home’s thermal envelope. 


Increased Comfort

You have more even distribution of heat with less drafts and fresher air.

 

The Confidence of Knowing Your Family is Safe

Safety is King!  If your home is below .35 air changes per hour at 50 paschals, your gas appliances and furnace can draft improperly creating serious safety issues for fire and carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as trap unhealthy chemicals in your home from outgassing.   A home that is testing too tight can cause "sick house syndrome."  A simple blower door test can determine if you home is breathing properly.

 

Improved Indoor Air Quality

In leaky homes, the air is frequently being pulled from the attic (or crawl space) where air has been contaminated with dust, dirt, and animal feces.  Too much air from the outside also contributes to increased allergens, pollen, and dust in the home. Moisture problems can lead to mold and damage.

 

 

 


Professional Air Sealing

How Do Blower Doors Work

A blower door is a powerful fan that mounts into the frame of an exterior door. The fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the air pressure inside. The higher outside air pressure then flows in through all unsealed cracks and openings. The auditors may use a smoke pencil to detect air leaks. These tests determine the air infiltration rate of a building.

Blower doors consist of a frame and flexible panel that fit in a doorway, a variable-speed fan, a pressure gauge to measure the pressure differences inside and outside the home, and an airflow manometer and hoses for measuring airflow.

There are two types of blower doors: calibrated and uncalibrated. It is important that auditors use a calibrated door. This type of blower door has several gauges that measure the amount of air pulled out of the house by the fan. Uncalibrated blower doors can only locate leaks in homes. They provide no method for determining the overall tightness of a building. The calibrated blower door's data allow the auditor to quantify the amount of air leakage and the effectiveness of any air-sealing job.


Preparing for a Blower Door Test

Take the following steps to prepare your home for a blower door test:

  • If you heat with wood, be sure all fires are completely out - not even coals - before the auditor arrives. Remove any ashes from open fireplaces. 
  • Plan to do a walk-through of your home with the auditor. Be prepared to point out areas that you know are drafty or difficult to condition comfortably.
  • Expect the auditor to request access to all areas of your home including closets, built-in cabinets, attics, crawl spaces, and any unused rooms.
  • The auditor will need to close all exterior doors and windows, open all interior doors, and close any fireplace dampers, doors, and wood stove air inlets.
  • Expect the auditor to set controls on all atmospheric fossil fuel appliances to ensure that they do not fire during the test. The auditor should return them to the original position after the test.
  • Expect the test to take up to an hour or more, depending on the complexity of your home.
Professional Air Sealing

How is Professional Air

Sealing Done?


Professional energy auditors use blower door tests to help determine a home's air tightness and locate leaks.  (You can read more about blower door technology and preparation for testing in the section at the bottom left of this page.)  


There are two approaches to Air Sealing.  Both are effective, but like most applications there is better and a best.  

 

Best:  Sealing the Top Plates

Ideally, the insulation is removed then the technician can easily see to seal the top plates of the walls from the attic.  While this approach is more costly, it provides the best resistance to air infiltrating from the attic into the living space.  Although the top plates are sealed, it is still very important to address the interior of the home to assure that any combustion appliances are in sealed closets and other weatherization measures are properly addressed.  Blower door technology is used to optimize and locate otherwise difficult areas that need sealing.  

 

Good:  Sealing from the Interior of the Home

A home can be effectively sealed without going into a home by a skilled technician utilizing a blower door, caulk, weather stripping, foam, and effectively isolating the combustion area appliances from the living space.   In all cases, the technician will be working to achieve the closest to optimal without going under the recommended air changes per hour.  In existing homes, it is difficult to achieve optimal, but a skilled technican knows how to get it as close as possible without going under.  

 


 

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