If you’ve noticed your home’s heating bill going up compared to where it was at this time a year ago, you could be dealing with air leaks somewhere in the house. These are often very difficult to spot with the naked eye, but they could be leading to significant energy losses that raise your bill in a major way.
At Roberts Mechanical, our HVAC and heating services include helping homeowners identify these kinds of air leaks when they can’t do so on their own. We use a few different instruments and tests here, depending on your situation. One common test that’s often used across the HVAC world is called the door blower test – what is this, and how should you go about preparing for it if you’re having one done?
Door Blower Test Basics
Door blower tests are part of many home energy audits, with the goal of locating drafts and air leaks and determining how airtight the home is. They use a temporary barrier that our technicians will bring to your home and place on one of your exterior – this barrier has a fan that runs at about 10 or 15 mph, removing air from the home and reducing the indoor air pressure. In addition, the barrier has various instruments to provide data on airflow within the structure.
When the test begins, your technician will turn on the barrier fan. When the home is fully depressurized, the basic effects of physics will kick in: Higher pressure outside than inside will cause air to flow in through any small cracks or openings in your home. Your technician will walk through each area of the home with a tool known as a smoke pencil, which emits odorless smoke and allows them to track the areas where airflow is taking place. Increased airflow from the leak will disrupt the smooth smoke, and your technician will be able to identify the leak and address it.
If you’re considering a door blower test for your home or building, there are a few basic preparation steps to take before it’s performed:
- Batten things down: 10 to 15 mph airflow won’t be enough to ruin any of the elements of your home, but it could ruffle up some things and increase your clutter. Before the test takes place, just take the time to close all windows and other openings so things like paper, fireplace ashes or dust don’t go flying everywhere.
- Open vs closed: All doors, windows, dampers and openings have to be closed to the exterior for this test. However, any interior doors – plus chests, cabinets and other passageways where air can make it through – should be opened so air can flow as freely as possible within the home.
- Appliances: Any appliances with a pilot light, including the oven, should be disabled so no sparks or flames are at risk. Our technicians can tell you about which items you’ll need to power down for this test.
For more on the door blower test, or to learn about any of our HVAC services, speak to the pros at Roberts Mechanical today.