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Building Science

A Few Pressure Testing Tips and Tricks

Blower door and duct leakage testing can be easier if you use these techniques

Blower door and duct leakage testing can be easier if you know the tips and tricks in this article.
Image Credit: Energy Vanguard

A typical BPI Building Analyst spends four to five days in a class learning how to do blower door testing, along with all the other stuff they need to know. HERS raters get all that, too, but also have to learn how to do duct leakage testing. Then there’s that whole big bunch of people who have gone through one or two day intensive blower door and duct leakage training for energy code compliance. When they’re done with the training, how do they figure out how to do pressure testing in the real world?

The lucky ones work for companies where they get on-the-job mentoring. Many newly trained pressure testers, however, are out there doing it on their own. As a result, they can miss out on some of the techniques that experienced and proficient blower door and duct leakage testers use, so today I’m going to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the past dozen years.

1. Don’t do the blower door test first

Jason Payne taught me this one several years ago, and it makes perfect sense. I used to go in and do the blower door test first, then set up and run the two duct leakage tests. If you’ve done any of this testing, you know that it takes much longer to set up for the duct leakage testing. If it’s a hot, humid, or cold day, when you run the blower door first, you’re making the house uncomfortable for the whole time you’re setting up the duct leakage tests.

Instead, do all your setup upfront. Then run your two duct leakage tests. Once you’ve got those results, unseal the vents and run your blower door test. Running the tests…

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2 Comments

  1. Peter Rogers | | #1

    "the crawl of shame", nice to
    "the crawl of shame", nice to have a term for it. haven't had to do that in quite a while, thankfully.

  2. Kohta Ueno | | #2

    Location of Outside Pressure Tap
    Nice writeup, Allison. FYI, I used to be a big subscriber to the "put the outside pressure tap into a cup/bag" trick. But the Energy Conservatory actually looked at this systematically, for their studies on big building air leakage testing with multiple blower doors. I believe they found that having the hose near the "crack" between the building wall and grade often provided the best measurements.

    See pages 57-58 in this document (which, BTW, is a really nice resource that TEC has put out):

    http://energyconservatory.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/blower_door_applications_guide_-_beyond_single_family_residential_ver_1-0_0.pdf

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