Building an airtight home is essential for any Passive House or energy-efficient build. It not only helps reduce energy consumption but also improves indoor air quality. However, how do you ensure that your home is tightly sealed? One way is through a Blower Door Test. In this blog post, we will look in-depth at Blower Door Tests, what it means for your home, and whether you need to get one done.
What is a Blower Door Test?
A Blower Door Test is a diagnostic tool that assesses the airtightness of a home or building. It is done by inserting the blower door kit into an exterior door and running the machine under depressurisation and pressurisation. This allows us to gain an understanding of how leaky the home or building is and identify where the leaks are coming from. By doing this, it essentially identifies where major heat losses or gains are occurring throughout the day, month or year, which is where the home’s energy consumption will come into play.
Additionally, an airtight home means that you have better control over your indoor air quality. An airtight home, together with a ventilation system, keeps pollutants like mould, dust, and other toxins from entering your home (not to mention other unwanted creepy crawlies)and gives you a fresh supply of air 24/7 and a healthier home to live in, critical for allergy sufferers.
So, do you need to get a Blower Door Test done?
If you are building a new home or renovating an old one, consider doing a test to gain an understanding of how your house will perform or is performing. A home built to the Passive House standard has to conduct Blower Door Tests as part of their certification process and achieve a result of 0.6 Air Changes per Hour (ACH) or lower, measured as 50 pascals pressure. To the Passive House Enerphit standard it requires you to get a test result of 1.0ACH or under. A standard home currently being built today with no test or verification would be anywhere from 15ACH and above, a vast difference. Although new construction code changes are being introduced, meaning newly built homes need to achieve 12ACH, albeit with no mandatory testing (so how will you ever know?), it just shows us how far behind we are here in Australia when in various parts of Europe and North America testing and results of 3ACH or under are in fact code.
Performing a Blower Door Test prior to having any renovation works performed would be very useful for identifying air leaks to help you prioritise and plan for your home’s upgrade. By knowing where the air leaks are, you can target those areas for improvement. For example, you may decide to add insulation or replace windows in areas where air leakage is significant rather than the whole home and where performance is slightly better. Working with your design and building team together in the planning stage is vital in this instance and will give you greater control over where to spend your renovation funds.
If you are building a new home or renovating an old one, consider getting a Blower Door Test as a must. It will provide you with vital information about your home’s airtightness, performance and help you prioritise your upgrades. Don’t wait until you experience high energy bills or poor indoor air quality to get one done!