Why do we have some States that are so opposed to adopting energy efficient codes and others that manage to voluntarily sign up for Stretch codes, which have more stringent requirements? When I started Retrotec 30 years ago, I thought tools that could increase the efficiency of a home were a no brainer. Energy efficiency is energy independence, enabling home owners to rely less on the often erratic utility increases. I thought that we would have the codes we have today, back in the early 90’s…
With challenges such as industry opposition, confusion on what programs and performance criteria to use, and conflicting agendas of those involved, it’s no wonder that it’s taking so long.
Codes adoption is against fundamental human nature. We don’t like rules and regulations.
All great cities suffered through losing a major part of their populations due to Black Death, Typhus, and many more diseases before they agreed to sanitation. The cost had to become unbearable to force change. All major cities burnt to the ground: Rome, Paris, London, and San Francisco, before fire regulations were
developed and enforced. On the health and safety front, the concerns have been addressed only after the cost of ignoring them became too high—look at how many decades we believed smoking was harmless, and many still refute the regulations.
If we have pioneers among us, they can show us new ways of doing old things better. Look at Apple’s success over the past ten years: from nothing to the world’s richest corporation. Not by embracing change but jumping on top of change and daring to be great, then doing everything it did better than everyone else.
By Colin Genge
A very common complaint about duct testing is that the covers get blown off the registers.
Most code language leaves the choice of pressurizing or depressurizing up to the tester, but experience has shown that the positive pressure made sealing registers much more difficult, and could triple the time to perform a test. This has influenced most new codes, such as North Carolina, which makes a point to state that a single point depressurization test is sufficient. It also means that inexpensive Saran Wrap could be used to seal registers, making it much easier to remove, and less likely to cause damage to paint or ceiling surfaces.
All states allow results under Depressurization, with the exceptions of Washington, Delaware, Idaho, and California. If you’re testing there, we suggest doing a depressurization test until you know it will pass, and then quickly turn around your fan to pressurize. This way, if you get significantly different readings you may be able to attribute it to blow register seals, for easier problem solving.
If your state’s regulations have the option of duct leakage to outdoors, and you go the pressurization route, an easy way to avoid blowing register covers off is by pressurizing the house first then reducing the duct to house pressure to zero.
In November 2011, the California Energy Commission conducted a public workshop to present proposed revisions to the building code—namely eliminating the option of non-powered flow hood devices.
The commission must have been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism from HVAC contractors and energy raters as they have now released some information about a delay in such a requirement.
According to Docket 12-BSTD-01 from March 9 2012, staff is considering recommending that non-powered flow hood devices continue to be allowed in an upcoming proposal, which states “an industry standard e.g ASTM or ASHRAE should be developed to provide the basis for flow hood accuracy ratings to measure residential system airflow pursuant to Appendix RA3.3.” (source)
It looks like PIER (California’s Public Interest Energy Research program) has allocated funding for flow hood research to develop measurement standards for reference in the next revision of the standards.
So what is a tester to do, should we bite the bullet and just move over to powered flow hoods?
By Silvie Votrubova