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Why an Air Tightness Test is So Important

September 26, 2016

Whether building a new home, or installing new insulation, air tightness is key to performance. In most cases, professionals acknowledge this fact, and further recognize the importance of an air tightness test. The bigger issue, it seems, is how best to insulate a space, and pass an air tightness test without question. This is why traditional options for air sealing are being reconsidered. Beyond conventional installations that attempt to ensure air tightness, product manufacturers are regularly introducing new approaches. As architects, engineers and insulation professionals recognize the significance of an air barrier (and vapour barrier) in construction, various product systems are gaining in popularity - systems that insulate, air seal, and moisture seal in one shot. Today, an increasing number of engineers and builders are specifying Spray Foam Insulation for residential application. Whether the installation is for attics, roofs, or walls, the idea is to create a continuous air barrier system that simplifies new construction or retrofitting. In short, Spray Foam Insulation will effectively consolidate insulation, air sealing, and moisture deterrence. Once Spray Foam Insulation has been applied, there's far more confidence when having a house air tested, and far more certainty that prescribed air tightness targets will be attained. For the professionals, a commitment to airtight building construction sets the stage for future industry objectives - those objectives being to ensure "airtight construction" in every residential home. Indeed, Spray Foam Insulation has many benefits that derive from an airtight space. Heating and cooling cycles are better balanced; energy efficiency is much enhanced; and energy consumption is reduced throughout the seasons. For the homeowner, this translates into cost savings around the year, and allows for a reasonable "payback period" on the original project investment. For the average property owner, an airtight home might also qualify for various rebate programs that are available from local utility companies and municipalities. With significant cash-backs, the cost of an insulation retrofit can be quite easily offset. The idea is to have an energy assessment (with airtightness test) before work is done, and finish with an assessment after work is done. Once a property owner has accommodated the requisites of a rebate program, insulation work can commence, using a professional contractor who will ensure that the retrofit will handily pass an airtightness test, particularly after the Energy Advisor executes the final assessment at the end of the project. In most regions of the country, this is a win-win option for any homeowner. Future trends dictate that energy efficiency will be primary in every home. There will be no place for energy wastage, and many more government regulations will define minimum requirements for an air tight space and high performance insulation. Residential homeowners would be wise to stay ahead of the trends, do some relevant homework, and start retrofitting for the future. Importantly, and particularly with Spray Foam Insulation, an installation should be performed by a professional - an expert who understands the nuances of the insulation product, and the unique aspects of the installation. These types of projects aren't well suited for a "quick-fix".

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