Duct Leakage Repeatability Testing
Duct leakage often needs to be measured to demonstrate compliance with requirements or to determine energy or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) impacts. Testing is often done using standards such as ASTM E1554 (ASTM 2013) or California Title 24 (California Energy Commission 2013 & 2013b), but there are several choices of methods available within the accepted standards.
Determining which method to use or not use requires an evaluation of those methods in the context of the particular needs. Three factors that are important considerations are the cost of the measurement, the accuracy of the measurement and the repeatability of the measurement. The purpose of this report is to evaluate the repeatability of the three most significant measurement techniques using data from the literature and recently obtained field data. We will also briefly discuss the first two factors. The main question to be answered by this study is to determine if differences in the repeatability of these tests methods is sufficient to indicate that any of these methods is so poor that it should be excluded from consideration as an allowed procedure in codes and standards.
The three duct leak measurement methods assessed in this report are the two duct pressurization methods that are commonly used by many practitioners and the DeltaQ technique. These are methods B, C and A, respectively of the ASTM E1554 standard. Although it would be useful to evaluate other duct leak test methods, this study focused on those test methods that are commonly used and are required in various test standards, such as BPI (2010), RESNET (2014), ASHRAE 62.2 (2013), California Title 24 (CEC 2012), DOE Weatherization and many other energy efficiency programs.
Repeatability is considered important by some practitioners who are concerned about differences between two tests on the same home, for example as part of a quality control procedure. Repeatability is also an indication of the resolution of the test method that becomes more important for tight duct systems. The results of this study can be used by organizations such as RESNET (in home performance ratings), ASHRAE (for standard 62.2 and possibly 90.2) and other building codes and standards in determining what tests are appropriate for their specific application.