Live and Learn

Remember that both of these tests are often conducted after the fact. They reveal how effectively—or ineffectively—you achieved the standard. Use the tests as learning tools. Be present when your homes are tested and ask a lot of questions. Invite your trade partners to participate as well.

Once you use diagnostic testing, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’re able to identify and correct areas of potential failure in the design phase as well as in the framing stage. When you address these issues early on, your blower door and duct blaster tests become routine. Every house you build will be a tight house that’s durable, energy efficient, safer, healthier, and a pleasure to live in.

Infrared Imaging: Finds hot spots and cold spots on exterior walls, ceilings, and floors caused by air leakage or missing or inadequate insulation levels

Flow Hood: Measures air flow from exhaust fans, supply registers, and return registers. Ensures you are getting the designed flow rates from your HVAC systems

Energy Raters: Find a local energy rater at www.natresnet.org or www.energystar.gov. Work with them to create a strategy to tighten up your homes and ducts.

Trade Partners: A number of insulation and HVAC contractors already test their work. Check with your trade contractor to see if he provides this service. Programs like Environments for Living or LEED for Homes also can help you find the people you need.

Do It Yourself: Find a used blower door and duct blaster or buy a new one from The Energy Conservatory (www.energyconservatory.com). It can help you learn what you need to do to test correctly.

President of LaLiberteOnline and a principal of Building Knowledge Inc., Mark LaLiberte is a highly regarded green building consultant who helps builders nationwide understand and apply proper building science construction principles to improve their homes. www.buildingknowledge.com; www.laliberteonline.com.

Pat O’Malley, director of operations at Building Knowledge, contributed to this article. pato@buildingknowledge.com.