Residential HVAC Duct Cleaning

Everything You Need to Know About Duct Blaster Tests

Duct blaster tests are suitable for both new-build homes and existing properties. The test is designed to identify leaks in ductwork.

Why are leaks in a duct system so concerning?

If your home’s air ducts are leaking, you will likely experience:

  • Higher energy bills. Your heating or cooling systems will have to work harder, for longer, to replace the air that has been lost through ductwork leaks.
  • Compromised indoor air quality. If your ducts are leaking, they are prone to suck dust from your attic or crawl space. This dust and debris are then deposited throughout your home via your vents, creating issues with indoor air quality.
  • Clogged ductwork. The above issue can also lead to clogs in your system, which require extensive repairs to rectify.
  • Health concerns. Leaky ducts can also cause myriad health issues via mold and moisture accumulation, which can be problematic for residents with allergies or lung conditions.

A duct test is the first step to ensuring these issues do not occur in your property.

How does a duct blaster test work?

For existing properties, the duct blaster proceeds as follows:

  • The duct blaster fan is attached to the fan at the air handler cabinet or result grille.
  • All other supplies and returns are temporarily sealed with special tape for the duration of the test.
  • The duct blaster fan is then turned on, which immediately pressurizes the ductwork system.
  • A leakage measurement is then obtained from an airflow and pressure gauge, which is connected to the fan system.
  • If the pressure reading is low, this indicates a leak in the system.
  • Non-toxic fog can then be added to the system, which then allows for the visual identification of the exact source of leaks in the ductwork.
  • These leaks can then be repaired.

The process is much the same for properties still undergoing construction but can be conducted – with minor modifications if the air handler has yet to be installed.

Who needs a ductwork blaster test?

Duct blaster tests are suitable for properties still undergoing construction, as well as for existing properties.

In newly-constructed properties, duct leak testing should be conducted when the ductwork system is installed and prior to hanging drywall. Testing at this point ensures that all leaks are identified while the ductwork is still exposed, which ensures remedial action can be taken as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Existing properties can benefit from a duct blaster test at any point in time. The test will seek to produce a combined result for both exterior leakage, for example, to an attic or crawl space; and interior leakage to the main areas of the home. A blower door test is often combined with a duct blaster test so as to isolate exterior leakage.

When the test is complete, repair work on the leaks can be conducted to secure the system.

Who conducts a duct blaster test?

Only certified professionals are able to conduct a duct blaster test, as the process is complex and requires specific expertise.

In conclusion

Identifying leaking ductwork can be incredibly difficult. A duct blaster test is a perfect choice to ensure that the ductwork in your home is in the best possible condition, and is recommended for all homeowners seeking to ensure their home runs as healthily and cost-efficiently as possible.

Home Energy Assessment

Pass The Blower Door Test First Time

If you are constructing a home, Section 402.4.1.2 of the Florida Building Code 5th Edition 2014 Energy Conservation Now requires the property to undergo – and pass – blower door testing. This test seeks to ascertain the air infiltration of a building, a key contributor to energy efficiency. To pass the blower door test the first time, it is important to ascertain what the test is actually for.

What is a blower door test?

A blower door test involves:

  • A powerful fan is mounted at an exterior door to the property.
  • This fan is used to withdraw the air from the property.
  • This lowers the air internal air pressure significantly.
  • The external air pressure then flows through cracks, holes, and other openings in the home.
  • A measurement of the air infiltration of the building is then taken by a manometer.
  • If this measurement is satisfactory, the test is passed.
  • If not, leaks must be identified and rectified. A smoke pencil is sometimes used to assist in the identification of gaps and openings that are contributing to air infiltration issues.

What constitutes a ‘pass’ on the blower door test?

The 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) advises the following:

  • Residential buildings: a maximum of 3 ACH50 (air changes per hour at -50 Pascal) .
  • Commercial buildings: a maximum .40 CFM/square foot of envelope are at -75 Pascal.

When can a blower door test take place?

A blower door test should take place before construction is finalized, but when the following elements are installed:

  • Doors and windows (including hardware and weatherstripping).
  • Door thresholds.
  • Hatches to unconditioned attics.
  • Hatches to unconditioned crawl spaces.
  • Dampers.
  • Fireplace doors.
  • Light fixtures.Plate covers.

It is also advisable to conduct a blower door test when:

  • Hatches to unconditioned attics and/or crawl spaces have been gasketed.
  • Plumbing traps have been filled.
  • Conduits that lead outside have been sealed.
  • Work is complete on air handlers and all ductwork.

It may also be beneficial to inspect the property and fix any holes, gaps, cracks, or openings that are visible to the naked eye. Managing these issues should help you to ensure you pass the blower door test first time.

How should a property be configured during the test?

There is a specific section of the IECC that dictates how a house should be set up for the blower door test. This includes:

  • Exterior windows and doors should be closed.
  • Fireplace and stove doors should be closed.
  • Exhaust, intake, backdraft, and flue dampers should be closed.
  • Interior doors are left open.
  • Exterior openings for ventilation systems should be closed and sealed.
  • Heating and cooling systems should not be operational during the test.
  • HVAC supply and return registers cannot be sealed.

The professional conducting the test will usually check these elements prior to commencing.

How can you pass the blower door test the first time?

  • Only work with qualified, experienced builders that are aware of the need to work to the standards required to pass the test.
  • Conduct the blower door test at the right time, when the elements mentioned in section two are in place.
  • Perform both an internal and external inspection of the property to identify any gaps or openings, and fill anything you find.

In conclusion

Passing the door blower test first time is not an exact science, but with diligence during construction and careful inspection for gaps and openings, you will give yourself the best possible chance.