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Last updated Feb. 01, 2019
When we talk about energy efficiency, there are lots of factors that come into play.
Most people concentrate on the most obvious ones like the machines used around the home and the opening and closing of doors and windows.
Air leaks affect energy efficiency and they must be dealt with if avoid energy loss.
In most homes, it is easy to identify air leaks. This is the case when the leaks are big enough. In some instances, air leaks are so tiny that identifying them is almost impossible.
It may seem like the tiny air leaks are not having a meaningful impact in energy loss but when you add all the tiny leaks up, you will see that they are making you spend so much more on heating and cooling more than you need to.
It is important, therefore that you find them and seal them. But how do you find these very tiny leaks?
The most effective way to find really tiny air leaks in your home is to depressurize the home.
A method generally referred to as a door blower test is the surest way to get this done.
It is an important household energy audit that is designed to measure the overall air tightness of home and pinpoint the locations of drafts.
You will need a qualified technician to perform this test. Always, the air leaks identified during the tests are often sealed up immediately by the technician.
To perform the door blower test, technicians install a temporary barrier across one of the exterior doors in the home. All other sources of air of air into the house are closed up.
The temporary barrier placed on one of the exterior doors has a built-in fan that pulls air out of the home.
The fan system works at a speed of about 10 to 15 mph, which is enough to significantly reduce the indoor air pressure.
There are also some measuring instruments and gauges that provide air pressure data to help the technician make informed decisions during and after the test.
After setting up the barrier and starting the process, it will take a little while to depressurize the home.
When the indoor space has been significantly depressurized, the relative pressure outside will drive air into the home even from the tiniest holes and cracks in the house.
It is at this point that the technician will start walking around the house carefully with an instrument called a smoke pencil. This tool emits a tiny, steady stream of odourless smoke.
The technician will know there is a leak from any part of the wall when the steady stream of smoke is disrupted.
At any point where the air is entering the house, the pressure will disrupt the steady stream of smoke and the technician will pinpoint the exact spot with the smoke pencil.
As stated earlier, finding the air leak is just one aspect of the job. It is actually the harder part of it, actually. Next, the technician or someone else can seal the leak.
A simple application of caulk or spray foam insulation will do the trick. Other acceptable sealants can also be used. Once all the tiny air leaks are spotted and sealed, energy efficiency can be meaningfully improved.
While repairing air leaks may be principally aimed at improving energy efficiency, there are other ways it can be beneficial to you and your household.
Unwanted pests, including that, transmit diseases like mosquitoes can enter your home through very tiny openings.
In a highly humid environment, sealing your home properly will also help to keep moisture out of the home.
There are some important steps you will have to take to prepare for the blower door test. We will summarize the important preparations you need to make:
1. Clean Your Home Properly
During the procedure, the flow of air through the home will definitely raise some particles that are settled on floorings and furniture.
It is important that you clean your home before the technician arrives to ensure there are little or no particles that will be thrown into the air once the pressure in your home is disturbed.
Fireplace ashes and dust, for instance, should be taken care of before your home is depressurized.
2. Disable Appliances that could Create Sparks and Flames
For precautionary measures, it is advisable to disable certain appliances before the blower door test commences.
Any appliance at all with a pilot light, including your oven, needs to be disabled. The energy auditor will normally mention to you the particular appliances that need to be disabled for safety reasons.
3. Open the Right Doors/Windows and Close the Right Ones
The energy auditor or the technician can always do this but you need to know about it anyways.
To really depressurize your home, all doors, windows, dampers, and other openings to the outdoor environment need to be closed.
All interior doors, on the other hand, needs to be kept opened including doors to closets and cabinets. This means you may have to arrange your house a little bit before the technician arrives.
Energy efficiency is all about making sure you are not spending more than you need to in your home. While there are several things you can do to improve it, sealing every leak is one of the most important things you need to consider.
For bigger leaks, finding them is not often n issue but when it comes to the tiniest cracks, you may have to depressurize your home to find them and seal them.
A blower door test is one of the most efficient ways to do this. The test, which can take about two hours or more, but will yield the right result and provide relevant information to improve your home energy efficiency.
If you have any further questions, contact us and we would be happy to help you.