FIELD EVALUATION OF IMPROVED METHODS FOR MEASURING THE AIR LEAKAGE OF DUCT SYSTEMS UNDER NORMAL OPERATING CONDITIONS IN 51 HOMES

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Duct leakage in forced-air distribution systems has been recognized for years as a major source of energy losses in residential buildings. Unfortunately, the distribution of leakage across homes is far from uniform, and measuring duct leakage under normal operating conditions has proven to be difficult. Recently, two new methods for estimating duct leakage at normal operating conditions have been devised. These are called the nulling test and the Delta-Q test. Small exploratory studies have been done to evaluate these tests, but previously no large-scale study on a broad variety of homes has been performed to determine the accuracy of these ... continued below

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172 pages

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Francisco, Paul W.; Palmiter, Larry; Kruse, Erin & Davis, Bob October 18, 2003.

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Duct leakage in forced-air distribution systems has been recognized for years as a major source of energy losses in residential buildings. Unfortunately, the distribution of leakage across homes is far from uniform, and measuring duct leakage under normal operating conditions has proven to be difficult. Recently, two new methods for estimating duct leakage at normal operating conditions have been devised. These are called the nulling test and the Delta-Q test. Small exploratory studies have been done to evaluate these tests, but previously no large-scale study on a broad variety of homes has been performed to determine the accuracy of these new methods in the field against an independent benchmark of leakage. This sort of study is important because it is difficult in a laboratory setting to replicate the range of leakage types found in real homes. This report presents the results of a study on 51 homes to evaluate these new methods relative to an independent benchmark and a method that is currently used. An evaluation of the benchmark procedure found that it worked very well for supply-side leakage measurements, but not as well on the return side. The nulling test was found to perform well, as long as wind effects were minimal. Unfortunately, the time and difficulty of setup can be prohibitive, and it is likely that this method will not be practical for general use by contractors except in homes with no return ducts. The Delta-Q test was found to have a bias resulting in overprediction of the leakage, which qualitatively confirms the results of previous laboratory, simulation, and small-scale field studies. On average the bias was only a few percent of the air handler flow, but in about 20% of the homes the bias was large. A primary flaw with the Delta-Q test is the assumption that the pressure between the ducts and the house remain constant during the test, as this assumption does not hold true. Various modifications to the Delta-Q method were evaluated as possible improvements. Only one of these modifications provided improved results. This modification requires measuring the duct pressure relative to the house at either every pressure station within the Delta-Q test or at the extremes of the house pressure range involved in the Delta-Q test. If the pressures are only measured at the extremes, then calculated pressures at the other pressure stations are obtained via interpolation. Using these pressures reduced the bias in the Delta-Q test by about one-third.

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172 pages

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OSTI as DE00822900

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  • Other Information: PBD: 18 Oct 2003

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  • Report No.: NONE
  • Grant Number: FC26-01NT41257
  • DOI: 10.2172/822900 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 822900
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc786228

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  • October 18, 2003

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Dec. 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

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  • Jan. 3, 2017, 2:18 p.m.

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Francisco, Paul W.; Palmiter, Larry; Kruse, Erin & Davis, Bob. FIELD EVALUATION OF IMPROVED METHODS FOR MEASURING THE AIR LEAKAGE OF DUCT SYSTEMS UNDER NORMAL OPERATING CONDITIONS IN 51 HOMES, report, October 18, 2003; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc786228/: accessed July 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.