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Duct Tape Durability Testing

Description: Duct leakage is a major source of energy loss in residential buildings. Most duct leakage occurs at the connections to registers, plenums, or branches in the duct system. At each of these connections, a method of sealing the duct system is required. Typical sealing methods include tapes or mastics applied around the joints in the system. Field examinations of duct systems have shown that taped seals tend to fail over extended periods of time. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has been testing sealant durability for several years using accelerated test methods and found that typical duct tape (i.e., cloth-backed tapes with natural rubber adhesives) fails more rapidly than other duct sealants. This report summarizes the results of duct sealant durability testing over two years for four UL 181B-FX listed duct tapes (two cloth tapes, a foil tape and an Oriented Polypropylene (OPP) tape). One of the cloth tapes was specifically developed in collaboration with a tape manufacturer to perform better in our durability testing. The tests involved the aging of common ''core-to-collar joints'' of flexible duct to sheet metal collars. Periodic air leakage tests and visual inspection were used to document changes in sealant performance. After two years of testing, the flex-to-collar connections showed little change in air leakage, but substantial visual degradation from some products. A surprising experimental result was failure of most of the clamps used to mechanically fasten the connections. This indicates that the durability of clamps also need to be addressed ensure longevity of the duct connection. An accelerated test method developed during this study has been used as the basis for an ASTM standard (E2342-03).
Date: April 1, 2004
Creator: Sherman, Max H. & Walker, Iain S.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department