Energy Audits

Duct Leakage Testing

Here in Charlottesville, we are subjected to cold winters and hot summers. Many homeowners believe that heating and air conditioning units are the sole determinants of their system’s efficiency. However, leaky ducts can be crucial detriments to your system’s efficiency and override the benefit of state-of-the-art equipment.

How do you know if you have leaky ducts? Well, industry experts estimate that, of the million plus miles in residential ductwork, two-thirds of those homes would be well served by duct sealing or duct repair. It doesn’t matter if you live in Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, or Louisa County; there’s a good chance your system may be a victim to leaky ducts.

Typically, we’ll use a blower door and duct leakage tester in tandem when we evaluate your home. For diagnostic purposes, we may use a pressure pan along with the blower door. A number of outfits in the industry will exclusively use blower door testing: BEWARE. The results are not as reliable and we highly recommend blower door testing in tandem with either the duct leakage tester or pressure pan.

Regardless of which diagnostic test we determine best suits your needs, they all work in a similar fashion. The basic concept is that you use a calibrated fan to pressurize the duct system, then measure the duct airflow with the system at pressure. The test results will definitively tell Airflow Diagnostics Institute whether your system is indeed plagued by leaky ducts.

Home Leakage Testing

The new homes of today are built tighter than their older counterparts, so that’s the good news.  What if you live in one of Charlottesville’s many older homes? Home leakage testing can help you isolate areas with energy-wasting leaks.

As mentioned above, blower door testing is instrumental in identifying leaks. It depressurizes the home and in turn reveals leakage locations. However, our skilled comfort consultants can employ cheaper alternatives such as visual inspection and a building pressurization test.

For the home’s exterior, we will carefully inspect where two different housing materials meet. This includes, but is not limited to, an inspection of:

  • All corners.
  • Water faucets.
  • Siding and chimney intersections.
  • Foundation and siding/ brick intersections.

For the home’s interior, we look for any cracks or gaps that may cause leakage. These areas typically include:

  • Electrical outlets.
  • Switch plates.
  • Door and window frames.
  • Electrical and gas service entrances,
  • Baseboards.
  • Door weather stripping.
  • Fireplace dampers.
  • Attic hatches.
  • Wall or window air conditioners.
  • Cable and phone lines.
  • Dryer vents.
  • Vents and fans.

Caulking and weather stripping are apt solutions for visible leakage areas. In rare instances, you may want to replace older doors and windows for newer, high-performance models.

If a simple visual inspection is inconclusive, and you’re hesitant to jump to blower door testing, we recommend a building pressurization test.

  1. Turn off all combustion appliances. This includes gas furnaces and sometimes water heaters.
  2.  Close all windows, exterior doors, and fireplace flues.
  3. Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside.
  4. Light an incense stick and walk by the suspected leakage areas. If the smoke wavers or is extinguished, there’s a draft.

One last trick: close a door or window on a dollar bill. If you can extract the bill without it dragging, your home has leakage!

Infrared Imaging

Infrared imaging is a critical part to any home energy audit. For all intents and purposes, infrared imaging is an intensified visual inspection of your home. Using an infrared assessment device, one of our comfort consultants will scan the attic, walls, and various nooks and crannies in your home. At the end of the audit, we will have a temperature “map” of your home’s leakage points and be able to pinpoint the locations that require work.  Let’s get started!