musingsheader image
Helpful? 1

Blower Door Basics

An essential tool for building energy-efficient homes, blower doors can also help you find leaks in old houses

Posted on Jan 29 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Leaky homes are hard to heat and hard to cool. The only way to know whether your home is leaky or tight is to measure its air leakage rate with a blower door. A blower door is a tool that depressurizes a house; this depressurizationSituation that occurs within a house when the indoor air pressure is lower than that outdoors. Exhaust fans, including bath and kitchen fans, or a clothes dryer can cause depressurization, and it may in turn cause back drafting as well as increased levels of radon within the home. exaggerates the home’s air leaks, making the leaks easier to measure and locate.

An energy-efficient house must be as airtight as possible. Many older U.S. homes are so leaky that a third to a half of the home’s heat loss comes from air leaks.

There is no such thing as a house that is too tight. However, it’s also true that there is no such a thing as an airtight house. Every house leaks, and that’s why we perform blower-door tests — to measure a building’s leakage rate.

Who needs a blower door?

Blower-door testing is useful for both new construction and existing homes. By testing a new home, a builder:

  • Can determine whether a certain airtightness target has been met;
  • Can document airtightness levels needed to qualify for certain home labeling programs, including Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. and PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates.;
  • Can do a better job calculating heat loss and heat gainIncrease in the amount of heat in a space, including heat transferred from outside (in the form of solar radiation) and heat generated within by people, lights, mechanical systems, and other sources. See heat loss. the next time he or she builds a similar house;
  • Can brag about the home’s airtightness to prospective homebuyers or drinking buddies.

If you’re building a new home, the best time to conduct a blower-door test is after the home is insulated but before the drywall is hung. If the test reveals major problems, the leaks will be easier to fix at that point than later on.

Testing existing homes

There are at least two reasons to conduct a blower-door test on an existing house: to determine how leaky it is, and to help locate and fix the leaks.

When a blower door is used to help an air-sealing contractor locate and fix leaks in an existing house, the procedure is called “blower-door-directed air sealing.” (To see a GBA video of blower-door-directed air sealing, click here.)

A short history of the blower door

During the 1960s, energy experts didn’t realize the extent to which air leakage contributed to residential heat loss. During the early 1970s, however, a few researchers in Sweden, Saskatchewan, and New Jersey began studying air leakage in homes. In spite of these efforts, most early airtightness researchers still didn’t understand how air was leaking out of most existing homes.

The Eureka moment came in 1977. A Princeton University researcher named Gautam Dutt was frustrated because he couldn’t account for all of the heat escaping from a group of townhouses he was studying in Twin Rivers, New Jersey. According to a July 22, 1979 New York Times article, “Of 30 or so houses he [Dutt] checked, all were losing three to seven times as much heat to the outside as the models predicted.” After Dutt spent hours investigating the homes’ nooks and crannies, he eventually pulled back some attic insulation and discovered a huge air leak through an unsealed utility chase. Dutt is now credited as the discoverer of the “thermal bypass.”

The blower door was originally a research tool. It was simultaneously and independently invented in the early 1970s by two groups of North American researchers — the so-called “Princeton House Doctors” (David Harje, Ken Gadsby, Frank Sinden, and Dutt) in New Jersey and a group in Saskatchewan that included Harold Orr. The first commercially available unit, the Gadsco blower door, hit the market in 1980.

In 1981, Harry Sherman and his son Max — Max is now a senior researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — started selling blower doors under the Harmax brand. A year later, Gary Nelson, the founder of The Energy Conservatory, started selling the Minneapolis blower door. Of these three pioneer companies, only The Energy Conservatory is still in business.

What’s a blower door look like?

A blower door kit includes several components:

  • A frame and a flexible panel designed to temporarily fill a doorway;
  • A powerful variable-speed fan that is attached to the blower-door frame; and
  • At least two pressure gauges (manometers): one to measure the pressure difference between the home’s interior and the outdoors, and another (the airflow manometer) that deduces the fan’s airflow.

Three U.S. manufacturers (listed at the end of the article) sell residential blower-door kits for prices ranging from $2,500 to $3,200.

Before you turn on the fan, go through the checklist

Before a blower-door test can begin, the following preparation is necessary:

  • Close all windows and storm windows.
  • Close all exterior doors (except, of course, the door with the fan).
  • Open all interior doors. In most tests, any doors between the basement and the first floor are left open.
  • Disable heating equipment and non-electric water heaters by turning down their thermostats (and in some cases by shutting off electrical power to the equipment).
  • If there are any wood stoves, verify that all fires are out. Cover the ashes in the wood stoves and fireplaces with damp newspaper.
  • Shut all wood-stove dampers and fireplace dampers. Close glass fireplace doors.
  • Turn off the clothes dryer and all bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans.
  • If there is any reason to believe that plumbing traps are dry, fill all the plumbing traps with water.

In most cases, the following openings are not sealed:

  • Combustion flues; and
  • Dryer vents.

Ventilation system intake or exhaust vents (and passive air inlets) are usually (but not always) sealed, depending on the aims of the blower-door test. If the test is being performed to comply with section N1102.4.2 of the 2009 International Residential Code, the section requires that "Exterior openings for continuous ventilation systems and heat recovery ventilators shall be closed and sealed." Moreover, in many cases a builder will seal passive air intake vents during a blower-door test to determine the theoretical leakiness of the building’s envelope without any passive inlets.

According to an anonymous document, “Blower Door Basics,” posted online, “An old energy-auditor trick is to leave your truck keys on the water heater so you remember to turn the water heater and furnace back on” when the test is completed.

Crank up the fan

Once the house has been prepped, the blower-door technician starts up the fan slowly to depressurize the house. Before cranking the fan all the way up, it’s a good idea to walk through the house to make sure that nothing unexpected is happening — for example, to be sure that fireplace ashes aren’t being pulled across the living room hearth.

The fan speed is then turned up until the pressure difference between the indoors and the outdoors reaches 50 Pascals. At that point the technician reads and records the fan’s airflow as indicated on the airflow manometer. (Airflow is measured in cubic feet per minute, or cfm).

The pressure difference at which blower-door tests are conventionally performed — 50 Pascals — is arbitrary but useful. By establishing 50 Pascals as a standard pressure difference, a wide variety of houses can be usefully compared. Leaky houses require a high airflow to maintain this 50-Pascal pressure difference, whereas tight houses require a low airflow, so the airflow of the fan (in cfm) during 50-Pascal depressurization provides a number that correlates directly with a home’s leakiness.

Interpreting your results

There are two main ways that blower-door tests are reported: airflow at a pressure difference of 50 Pascals (cfm50) or air changes per hour at a pressure difference of 50 Pascals (ach50).

The first number — cfm50 — can be read directly off the airflow manometer at the time of the test.

The second number — ach50 — can only be calculated once the building’s volume has been determined. To calculate ach50, multiply cfm50 by 60 minutes per hour and divide the product by the building volume, including the basement, measured in cubic feet.

Some blower-door technicians estimate a home’s “natural infiltration” or “natural air change rate” (ACHnat). This number shouldn’t be taken too seriously, since it is only an estimate. Natural infiltration rates (and rules of thumb for calculating ACHnat) vary by climate. In Minnesota, ACHnat approximately equals ach50 divided by 17, while in Florida, ACHnat approximately equals ach50 divided by 30. According to Gary Nelson, the president of The Energy Conservatory in Minneapolis, “ACHnat is probably only accurate plus or minus a factor of two.”

Is my house tight?

Here are some comparison points to help interpret an ach50 reading:

  • A 2002 study of 24 new Wisconsin homes showed a median air leakage of 3.9 ach50.
  • New home builders in Minnesota routinely achieve 2.5 ach50.
  • The Canadian R-2000 program has an airtightness standard of 1.5 ach50.
  • The Passivhaus airtightness standard — a tough standard to achieve — is 0.6 ach50.

David Keefe, the manager of training services for Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, recently wrote an article on blower-door testing. “Houses with less than 5 or 6 ach50 are considered tight, and those over 20 are quite leaky, though these numbers can be misleading without considering other variables such as climate, house size, and old versus new construction,” Keefe wrote. “Tight houses tend to measure less than 1,200 cfm50, and moderately leaky homes measure between 1,500 and 2,500 cfm50. Homes that measure over 3,000 cfm50 are considered leaky.”

According to The Homeowner’s Guide to Renewable Energy by Dan Chiras, “A really good measurement is around 500 to 1,500 cfm50. The older houses we work on typically fall in the 6,500 to 8,500 cfm50 range.”

Blower-door-directed air sealing

Any competent energy auditEnergy audit that also includes inspections and tests to assess moisture flow, combustion safety, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and durability. of an existing home must include a blower-door test. Once you know your air leakage rate, you can formulate a plan for improving your home’s performance.

The leakier a home, the more economic sense it makes to hire an air-sealing contractor. “Homes with more than 6,000 cfm50 may merit days of labor and hundreds of dollars of materials,” write energy experts John Krigger and Chris Dorsi in their book, Residential Energy. “Homes with 1,500 cfm50 are difficult to improve.”

If your house is leaky enough to justify air-sealing work, you’ll need a blower door to efficiently locate and fix the leaks. Blower-door-directed air sealing is done while the house is depressurized to about 30 Pascals.

Once the blower-door has been set up, it usually makes sense to leave the fan running for several hours. By walking from room to room, many leaks can be found by feeling around with your bare hands. Subtler leaks can often be found using a smoke pencil or smoke bottle. In cold weather, an infrared camera can also be used to find air leaks.

The most important areas to seal air leaks are down low — in the home’s basement or crawl space — and up high — at the attic floor. Because of the stack effectAlso referred to as the chimney effect, this is one of three primary forces that drives air leakage in buildings. When warm air is in a column (such as a building), its buoyancy pulls colder air in low in buildings as the buoyant air exerts pressure to escape out the top. The pressure of stack effect is proportional to the height of the column of air and the temperature difference between the air in the column and ambient air. Stack effect is much stronger in cold climates during the heating season than in hot climates during the cooling season., leaks in these areas matter much more than leaks in the middle of the house, where there isn’t as much of a difference in air pressure between the indoors and outdoors.

Many homeowners assume that gaps around windows and doors are responsible for most of a home’s air leaks. In fact, air leaks in the following areas are usually much more significant:

  • Basement rim joist areas;
  • Holes cut for plumbing traps under tubs and showers;
  • Cracks between finish flooring and baseboards;
  • Utility chases;
  • Plumbing vent pipe penetrations;
  • Kitchen soffits;
  • Fireplace surrounds;
  • Recessed can lights; and
  • Cracks between partition top plates and drywall.

With the blower door running, air-sealing work begins, using a variety of materials, including spray foam, caulk, and rigid foam board. Workers first attack the largest and most obvious leaks. As they proceed, they periodically check the blower-door fan’s air flow to determine whether the air-sealing work is effective.

Don’t forget a combustion safety check

After air-sealing work in an existing house is complete, it’s vitally important to conduct a combustion safety test. This usually involves a worst-case depressurization test: all of the home’s exhaust fans, including the clothes dryer, are turned on at once, and every combustion appliance is checked to be sure there is no spillage of flue gas into the home.

Sealed-combustion appliances are immune to spillage and therefore preferred for tight homes.

Air-sealing contractors need to have a good understanding of “house as a system” principles to be sure that their work doesn’t cause or exacerbate indoor humidity problems, radonColorless, odorless, short-lived radioactive gas that can seep into homes and result in lung cancer risk. Radon and its decay products emit cancer-causing alpha, beta, and gamma particles. exposure, or a variety of other potentially hazardous conditions.

Do you need mechanical ventilation?

Many air-sealing contractors aim to lower the air-leakage rate in an existing home to somewhere in the range of 1,000 to 2,000 cfm50. If air-sealing work continues until the house is tightened below 1,000 cfm50, it’s advisable to install a whole-house mechanical ventilation system.

So why would anyone want to first tighten a house and then turn around and ventilate it with a fan? For several reasons:

  • Leaky homes don’t provide dependable volumes of fresh air. In a leaky house, air infiltration rates are very high in some conditions (when it’s cold outdoors and when it’s windy) and very low in other conditions (when outdoor temperatures are mild and there is little wind.)
  • Leaky houses tend to be overventilated in zones that are leaky and underventilated in zones that are relatively tight.
  • Air leakage through wall and ceiling assemblies can lead to condensation, mold, and rot.
  • Leaky homes are uncomfortable.
  • Tight homes use less energy than leaky homes — even taking into account the electrical energy used for ventilation.

Alternatives to blower-door testing

For those who can’t afford to buy a blower door, there are other ways to locate air leaks. In his excellent book, Insulate and Weatherize, energy consultant Bruce Harley advises, “You can make your own blower door if you can obtain a powerful fan (a regular box fan won’t work). You won’t be able to measure the air leakage, but you can use it to feel the air leaks.”

Another method requires a theatrical fog machine. For more information on this technique, see “Pinpointing Leaks With a Fog Machine.”

Manufacturers of blower doors

There are only three U.S. manufacturers of blower doors:
Infiltec of Waynesboro, Virginia.
Retrotec of Bellingham, Washington.
The Energy Conservatory of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

To see a GBA video of blower-door-directed air sealing, click here.

Last week's blog: “HRV or ERV?”


Tags: , , ,

Image Credits:

  1. The Energy Conservatory
  2. Infiltec

1.
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 12:49

Natural ACH
by Brennan Less

Helpful? -1

Martin,

I'm glad you mentioned the variability and potential inaccuracies of the estimated natural air change number that are often offered by energy audit technicians. I just read an interesting study by the Energy Center of Wisconsin comparing different methods of assessing duct leakage in new homes. The blower door/duct blaster method tended to over estimate the leakage that was occurring under standard operating system pressures. My assumption would be that this is similarly the case with standard blower door tests. Air exchange will vary widely by micro climate. The "n" factors that are used attempt to account for this, but they necessarily fail to capture the micro climate. Here's a link to the study: http://www.ecw.org/resource_detail.php?resultid=361. Keep up the great posts.


2.
Mon, 02/01/2010 - 20:38

Another use for the blower door
by Doug McEvers

Helpful? 1

I have ran this by a few folks, Gary Nelson included, why not use the blower door as a pre-drywall diagnostic tool. This probably would apply more to climates where a vapor barrier is used. When the insulation is in and the vapor barrier is in place, slightly pressurize the house and introduce theatrical fog into the living space and watch where it goes. You could mark those areas with a Sharpie and seal them before the drywall is in place. You could also see the leaks through the exterior sheathing and seal them up before the siding goes on. Gary said they have a fogger and use it for commercial testing, I think it may have value in residential. It's hard to find and seal air leaks once the drywall is hung.


3.
Mon, 02/01/2010 - 22:12

When to conduct a blower-door test
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 1

Doug,
If you read the article again, you'll notice that I wrote, "If you’re building a new home, the best time to conduct a blower-door test is after the home is insulated but before the drywall is hung. If the test reveals major problems, the leaks will be easier to fix at that point than later on." So I agree that it's usually best to use the blower-door before the drywallers arrive.

One possible exception: homes built with the Airtight Drywall Approach; for those homes, it may be desirable to hold off on the test until after the drywall is hung.

Finally, I agree with you about the usefulness of theatrical fog machines. The last paragraph of the article includes a link to an earlier blog, "Pinpointing Leaks With a Fog Machine."


4.
Tue, 02/02/2010 - 01:18

Onward through the fog
by Doug McEvers

Helpful? 0

You are way ahead of me Martin, I should have read closer. Once a builder gets on to building airtight, there really should not be many leaks, but we all miss things. The fogger would be a great tool to use when breaking in a new insulating and airsealimg crew. This would also be the time to depressurize very slightly and IR camera the house to spot insulation voids.


5.
Tue, 02/02/2010 - 18:25

The problem with volume & home made blower doors...
by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

Helpful? -1

Great, thorough article, Martin! It's not the sexiest building science topic out there, but it's certainly an important one.

Now, about those ways of reporting air leakage, you mention cfm50 and ACH50. The former is great if you're in the business and have tested a lot of houses. You get a feel for the numbers after a while, but you still need to factor in the size of the house. That's where ACH50 comes in, and it's a flawed measure, in my opinion, because it's based on the volume of the house, not the surface area of the building envelope.

Leaks don't happen throughout the volume, though, so dividing the cfm50 by volume doesn't give you a fair way of comparing houses of different sizes. As houses grow, the volume usually increases faster than the surface area, so using ACH50 (or ACHnat) is biased toward larger houses. For many houses, the range isn't big enough to worry about, but when you're comparing a 1000 square foot Habitat for Humanity house to a 10,000 sf McMansion, the difference is significant.

A much better way to report infiltration is with the Envelope Leakage Ratio (ELR), developed by Southface in Atlanta for its EarthCraft House program. Since the leaks come through the envelope, not the volume, the ELR is simply the cfm50 divided by the square footage of the building envelope. With this measure there's no bias in favor of bigger houses because you're normalizing to the correct quantity.

Also, a couple of other measures, described in the Energy Conservatory's Blower Door manual, are the Effective Leakage Area (ELA) and the Equivalent Leakage Area (EqLA). They're attempts at extrapolating the size of the hole in the envelope based on the blower door results. A very rough estimate is that for every 1000 cfm50, there's about one square foot of leakage area in the envelope.

Finally, I just found out this week about a website with instructions for making your own blower door that can measure the leakage using a fan, a variable speed controller, a manometer, and an anemometer. I haven't tried it, but it looks like it probably gives decent results. Here's the URL:

http://www.nlcpr.com/Pressuretesting.php

Allison A. Bailes III, PhD
Energy Vanguard


6.
Tue, 02/02/2010 - 18:52

Edited Sat, 12/29/2012 - 15:32.

Response to Allison Bailes
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 2

Allison,
Thanks for all the great information and the useful link.

When I was editor of Energy Design Update,, I tried to untangle all the various metrics used to report blower-door results. This is what I wrote on the topic in the August 2005 issue of EDU:

A typical blower-door test measures infiltration airflow at a pressure difference of 50 Pascals. The airflow is usually reported in cfm @ 50 Pa (CFM50 or cfm50).

To calculate air changes per hour at 50 Pa (ACH @ 50 Pa or ACH50), multiply cfm50 by 60 minutes per hour and divide the product by the building volume, including the basement, measured in cubic feet.

Equivalent leak area (EqLA) is the area of a theoretical sharp-edged hole in the building envelope that would leak as much as all of the building’s actual holes at a pressure difference of 10 Pa. EqLA (in square inches) approximately equals cfm50 divided by 10.

Effective leak area (ELA) is the area of a theoretical hole (with rounded edges) in the building envelope that would leak as much as all of the building’s actual holes at a pressure difference of 4 Pa. ELA (in square inches) approximately equals cfm50 divided by 18.

Specific leakage area (SLA) is calculated by dividing ELA by the conditioned floor area; it is usually reported in square inches of leakage per square foot of conditioned floor area. California Title 24 defines SLA differently: SLA is 10,000 times the ELA (in square feet) divided by the conditioned floor area in square feet. The California SLA approximately equals cfm50 multiplied by 3.812, divided by the conditioned floor area.

Normalized leakage (NL), defined by ASHRAE Standard 119, is a dimensionless number calculated by dividing ELA by the conditioned floor area, multiplied by a correction factor that varies with the height of the building. For most buildings, normalized leakage can be approximated by dividing ACH50 by 20.

“Natural infiltration” (ACHnat) varies greatly by season and by climate. It is not the same as normalized leakage, although its value may be similar. Rules of thumb for calculating ACHnat vary by climate. In Minnesota, ACHnat equals approximately ACH50 divided by 17, while in Florida, ACHnat equals approximately ACH50 divided by 30.

Several “leakage ratios” have been proposed. According to one definition, the leakage ratio equals EqLA (in square inches) divided by 1% of the total envelope surface area. The Minneapolis Leakage Ratio equals cfm50 divided by the area of the above-grade envelope in square feet.


7.
Mon, 03/22/2010 - 13:29

Commercial buildings
by Allan Bullis, CEM LEED AP

Helpful? -1

I recently performed a final air leakage test of a commercial project of 182,000 CF, and came up with an ACH50 of 0.16. (Tightest by far of any I have tested and I have been at it since 1990) I was wondering if anybody could help determine the ELA, ELR and EqLA?


8.
Mon, 03/22/2010 - 13:52

Formulas for ELA, ELR, and EqLA
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? -1

Allan,
You will find the formulas for ELA and EqLA in my posted comment of Feb. 2.

ELA (in square inches) approximately equals cfm50 divided by 18.

EqLA (in square inches) approximately equals cfm50 divided by 10.

According to Allison Bailes, the ELR is simply the cfm50 divided by the square footage of the building envelope.


9.
Tue, 03/23/2010 - 12:07

Martin, I know the rules of
by Allan Bullis, CEM LEED AP

Helpful? -1

Martin,
I know the rules of thumb you stated on Feb 2. I was just curious on the actual calculation as TECTITE program values for ELA and EqLA differ from the cfm50 divided by (10 -18) by over 10%. Guess it is close enough as a mentor once told me: " it is better to be approximatively right than precisely wrong"


10.
Thu, 04/29/2010 - 12:24

What about the properties of the envelope?
by Dan Douglas

Helpful? 0

The Envelope Leakage Ratio (aka the >Minneapolis Leakage Ratio, apparently) seems like the most solid way of those listed in this thread of reporting the leakiness of a building. The surface area of the envelope has to be a part of the formula, seems to me. There are numerous other factors that some insist should also be considered (climate, wind speed outdoors, stack effect from height of bldg, etc), and of those the one that seems undermentioned and important is the properties of the building envelope. Is it fair to use the same metric for a masonry building with 10 percent fenestration openings and almost no wall penetrations for pipes and conduits, versus a wood-framed building with 30 percent fenestration openings and numerous penetrations? The leakiness of various building types should be compared to other buildings of the same type, not to buildings of different types. The metric should say "your building is tight compared to other masonry buildings with few openings and penetrations. Your building is leaky compared to other wood-framed homes with a generous number of windows and doors". This asks more of the evaluator, of course. But if there was a table that listed types of construction and assigned a numerical factor to each, it doesn't seem like it would be so difficult to add factors that would let us judge a building's leakiness in a more realistic and fair way.

Disclaimer: I have three days' experience with blower-door testing, and am just starting to learn how this all works and what the data means. All I offer is fresh eyes.


11.
Thu, 05/06/2010 - 10:19

blower door test
by ernest joyner

Helpful? 0

very good info getting ready to take bpi i test in june trying to get a couple of test under my belt , but this info is the greatest also looking for some employment oppertunities if any resources please contanct at ernestjoyner41@ hotmail.com, plesently in weaterization course.being sponsered by eac of long island


12.
Fri, 12/10/2010 - 08:50

Blower door testing
by John

Helpful? 0

Hi, I have been using a blower door for about 2 years now and have done about 300 homes. I am BPI certified, however I don't agree on using the basement volume for determining the air leakage of the home if the basement is unconditioned as most are. If the basement is unconditioned, we don't want to heat it and a good sealing door should be installed between the two spaces. If the idea is to determine how much leakage is taking place, the volume of the conditioned space should be used, and even that has some problems. There is a big difference between testing for leakage and indoor air quality concerns. I think all new basements should be insulated and sealed and then viewed as conditioned space as this would take out the question as to weather the basement is conditioned or unconditioned or both. When I cannot figure out if the basement should be included, I do the test both ways.


13.
Mon, 06/20/2011 - 18:42

ELA = EfLA?
by Brian Ewishki

Helpful? 0

I have always seen ELA (this article) referred to as EfLA by the blower door manufacturers.

I know this article is older, but I have seen a few references to other standards recently including ASTM and USACE (for example: http://www.aikencolon.com/Retrotec-Blower-Door-Systems_c_1074.html). Are these newer standards?


14.
Mon, 06/20/2011 - 19:46

Abbreviation of "effective leak area"
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 0

Brian,
The standard abbreviation for "effective leak area" is ELA, as you can discover with a few Google searches. For example, you will see the same abbreviation I used (ELA) if you do a word search for "effective leak area" in any of the following documents:

http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/publications/html/FSEC-PF-195-90/

http://www.sips.org/content/technical/index.cfm?PageId=160

http://www.whitegatehomes.com/heafaq.html

http://www.advancedgreenproducts.com/SIP%20Technical%20Info.htm


15.
Wed, 05/16/2012 - 15:30

ELA vs EqLA
by Evan langhorst

Helpful? 0

Martin,

Thanks for the list of different leakage area calculations. I am having a hard time figuring out the best one to use when I am in a home with a client. They seem to be trying to calculate the same thing, but have different methods of doing it and will always have different results. Do you have any suggestions on which to use and why?


16.
Wed, 05/16/2012 - 16:10

Response to Evan langhorst
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 0

Evan,
Of course you can use any metric you want, but I don't think that either equivalent leak area or effective leak area is particularly useful.

Obviously, air changes per hour at 50 Pascals (ach50) is a commonly used metric. I tend to side with Allison Bailes, however, who argues that the best metric is cfm50 per square foot of building envelope. For more information on Bailes' logic, see How Much Air Leakage in Your Home Is Too Much?


Register for a free account and join the conversation


Get a free account and join the conversation!
Become a GBA PRO!