Benefits of Blower Door Tests At Different Stages of SIP Construction

Posted by Roberta Bartel on February 25, 2021

Blower door tests are often done near the end of the building process, when the paint is done, and the final doors and windows are in place.

When is the best time to perform blower door testing?

Blower door 2 It depends.  Doing blower door tests at different construction stages can help diagnose air infiltration issues allowing them to be fixed before the interior finishes have been completed. The key to early testing is that you must seal up openings in the building envelope; otherwise, you may not be able to depressurize the building to look for leaks.

Recently, Enercept did a blower door test on a Habitat for Humanity duplex under construction in Watertown, SD, using Enercept SIP wall panels.  The outside temperature was minus 11 degrees F, and the units were heated with a temporary heat source that was vented through a board over a window opening - as shown here:temporary heat

Also, there were utility closets in the garages and beneath the stairs that did not have DSC_1231 doors.  So our first line of business was to seal up these areas the best we could with poly and painter's tape. We were able to depressurize the home - shown here.

Then the fun began! We toured the unit with thermal imaging, looking for cold spots, and we found some:

DSC_1240 DSC_1248 DSC_1257
Enercept National Sales Manager Joe Pasma, PE, explained that where the blue is darkest is a cold spot, and where you see wisps of lighter blue, this indicates the cold air being pulled in by the blower door fan. 
Equipped with this information, our local Habitat for Humanity chapter has the information they need to seal these homes better to make them more efficient and comfortable for the new homeowners.
We test again when the duplex is sealed, and the trim, stairwells, and utility closet are finished. Doing the blower door test at the end of the building process is a great time to find your final numbers.
Builders can get their own testing equipment, but it is a large investment. However, in the long run, it could pay off as energy codes become more restrictive.
Learn more:
What  does a HERs Rater do?

Topics: Energy Efficiency, SIPs, Structural Insulated Panel, greenbuilding, Green Homes