Ventilation Retrofit – Now A Reality

 

 

VENTILATION RETROFIT – NOW A REALITY – 

p.11Commercial Building Engineers have been keeping a dirty little secret for decades – their building’s ventilation shafts leak…badly. According to recent studies, 80% or more of today’s commercial buildings have ventilation ducts that are so riddled with leaks that proper ventilation is virtually impossible.

The reason this has been kept a secret for so long is the fact that there simply hasn’t been an efficient, cost-effective solution to the problem. Short of conducting major demolition to access the ventilation shafts, reaching and sealing the leaks has been an impossible task. So the problem has been kept a secret.

That is until now.

For the last several years, homeowners have found aeroseal duct sealing to be the single most effective thing they can do to reduce energy waste and improve indoor comfort. As it turns out, however, that is just one of the technology’s ground breaking uses.

On the commercial side of the industry, HVAC professionals are finding aeroseal technology to be the long sought-after solution to poor ventilation. Aeroseal’s unique “inside out” approach to sealing is making it possible to easily and cost-effectively reach and seal ventilation leaks without having to tear into walls or disrupt the existing building structure. As a result, hundreds of buildings across the country are now undergoing ventilation repair and hundreds of thousands of tenants are enjoying the benefits that proper ventilation affords.

The game-changing nature of this sealing innovation is so profound that its use in ventilation repair is being recognized this January at the biggest industry tradeshow in the U.S. We just learned that a panel of ASHRAE members judged aeroseal technology to be the top Innovation Award winner for ventilation at this year’s 2016 AHR Expo.

If you’re an industry professional planning to attend the AHR Expo, let us know and we’ll make sure you get an invitation to the award ceremony. And if you’re an engineer or building owner looking to improve the ventilation of your building, let us show you how it can be done quickly and cost-effectively.

 

 

 

 

Aeroseal: For New Construction Projects Too

 

AEROSEAL: FOR NEW CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS TOO –

20150330_142332  I recently learned about a construction project that proves once again that aeroseal duct sealing technology is not only for retrofits. In fact, a growing number of engineers are specifying aerosol-based duct sealing right from the get-go for both new construction and upgrades. Word is starting to spread that aerosealing is quicker, less labor intensive and usually less expensive than manual sealing – especially if you’re trying to meet today’s tighter building codes. I’ve spoken to more than one general contractor who told me that he thinks it’s the only sensible way to go for anyone looking for LEED or Energy Star certification.

Case in Point…

The Cambridge Housing Authority was looking to receive LEED certification for a newly constructed housing project they were about to complete. Not only was “energy saving” bragging rights on the line, but they the CHA was expecting to receive thousands of dollars in federal rebate dollars by building to LEED standards.

After manually sealing the new ductwork, TAB testing found that the ductwork, used to ventilate the five-story building’s 40 bathrooms, was leaking at a rate of 900+ CFM. The LEED standards demanded nothing over 250 CFM. So they weren’t even close.

After several failed and costly attempts at resealing the ductwork using mastic, the general contractor decided to give a go-ahead to a new duct sealing solution -one that works from the inside to seal leaks.

The Aeroseal team experts arrived on a Friday to set up the  equipment and prepare the ductwork. The following Monday, they began and finished the entire project. The end result…a total leakage rate of 47 CFM – well below the allusive 250 mark they were aiming for…and this total included the leakage around the fire damper door access panels. Remove that component from the equation and Aeroseal sealed the ductwork down to about 8 CFM of leakage.

The entire process took two workdays to complete and was conducted while other construction work continued throughout the building. Any concerns over health risks were quickly eliminated after a review the technology’s Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) by the union steward.

So here’s another one for the record books. Faster, cheaper, more effective. Aeroseal – the key to meeting standards and saving energy.

Duct Tape For Anything But Taping Ducts

DUCT TAPE FOR ANYTHING…BUT TAPING DUCTS –

Screen-Shot-2015-07-13-at-11.32.33-AMIf you’re the kind of homeowner that feels pretty handy with a screwdriver and a caulking gun, you’ve probably already tackled a lot of home performance projects designed to reduce home energy consumption and lower your monthly utility bill. But now that the programmable thermostat has been set, and you’ve switched out all your light bulbs to energy-efficient LEDs, what about taking care of those duct leaks?

Recent research reports have found that duct leaks are typically the single biggest contributor to home energy waste. Effectively sealing these leaks save the average homeowner somewhere between $200 and $800 a year on their annual utility costs.

But before you block out the weekend for a duct sealing project, you’ll want to keep one thing in mind…while there are products on the market that can help you reduce duct leakage, duct tape is NOT one of them.

Crazy hu? I’ve seen people do all kinds of crazy things with duct tape – from repairing a leaky canoe to crafting a heavy-duty wallet, but the one thing experts say you can’t effectively do with duct tape is seal duct leaks.

Here’s an excerpt from an article written by Paul Preuss several years ago. Preuss was writing for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a federal government research facility quite interested in energy saving solutions.

“…. Unfortunately, one of the things you can’t do with duct tape is seal ducts. At least, not for long, according to Max Sherman and iain Walker of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. For three months they tested a variety of sealing materials – many kinds of duct tape, clear plastic tape, foiled-backed tape, mastic and injected aerosol sealant – under conditions similar to those encountered in real heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

“We tried as many different kinds of duct sealants as we could get our hands on. Of all the things we tested, only duct tape failed. It failed reliably and often quite catastrophically,” says Sherman, who heads the Energy Performance of Buildings Group in Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD).

Walker notes that “tape manufacturers sell all kinds of colors and grades – ‘contractor’ grade, ‘professional’ grade, even ‘nuclear’ grade, whatever that means. But performance doesn’t seem related to grade.”

As you might suspect, the one duct sealing method that these researchers found performed well above anything else was aerosol-based duct sealing. According to the Preuss article…

“The aerosol sealant system…was tested many times longer than the others. The sticky vinyl polymer is designed to be pumped through the ducts to automatically seek out leaks, span them, and dry; in a program undertaken for the Environmental Protection Agency, Sherman and Walker sealed leaks with aerosol, then cycled the ducts from ambient air pressure and temperature to hot air at twice typical duct-system pressures, every 20 minutes for two years. There was no significant change in duct tightness.

While aerosol-based duct sealing (AKA aerosealing) isn’t something a homeowner can do on his/her own – it requires a licensed aeroseal expert – it does have one major advantage over do-it-yourself duct sealing of any kind. And that is, since it works from the inside to find and seal leaks, it seals ALL the leaks – even those hidden behind walls, under insulation or in other parts of the ductwork that are difficult to access.

So while you may want to cover over some of the visible and easily accessible duct leaks with professional mastic or aluminum tape, it’s aerosol duct sealing if you want to shore up the remaining 90% of duct leaks that are hidden away. And leave the duct tape for that broken refrigerator shelf.

Indoor Air Quality and Your Air Ducts

 

INDOOR AIR QUALITY AND YOUR DUCTS   –

p.1Did you know that women who work at home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than those that work outside the house? Or that 50% of all illnesses in the U.S. are caused by poor indoor air quality (IAQ)?

When you consider the fact that we spent 60% to 90% of our time indoors, you can see why poor indoor air quality is a problem that can have a real impact on the health of occupants… and it’s a lot bigger problem than most people realize. Here are some other IAQ facts:

  • The EPA found that indoor air can be 5X more polluted than outside air – and it’s sometimes as much as 100X more polluted.
  • 96% of homes tested had IAQ issues. 86% of these included high levels of ducts, pollen and air-borne viruses.
  • 71% of the air in homes tested was filled with potentially harmful chemicals and gases.
  • Improvements in IAQ in the workplace/classroom can increase productivity by up to 10%
  • An EPA analysis found that if a school spent just $370 each year on preventative IAQ maintenance for 20 years (a total of $8,140) it would save about $1.5 million in repairs.
  • 2 out of 3 indoor air quality problems involve the HVAC system. Many of these are directly related to leaky ventilation shafts and other ductwork.

There has been a dramatic increase in public awareness over the role that leaky ductwork plays in lost energy. The same holds true for the connection between duct leaks and indoor comfort. Not only is effectively sealing those leaks usually the single most effective thing one can do to improve energy efficiency, but it is also usually the solution to uneven temperatures – rooms that never get enough heat in the winter or air conditioned air in the summer.

Less people are aware, however, that duct leaks are also a main contributor to poor indoor air quality. Perhaps that’s because IAQ is mostly an invisible problem, making it so easy to ignore. Out of site – out of mind.

It’s time we bring the facts regarding IAQ out into the light.

CT Family Enjoys Lower Energy Bills / Improved Comfort

CT Home1

CONNECTICUT FAMILY ENJOYS LOWER ENERGY BILLS – INCREASED COMFORT

Homeowner Dennis K. had heard that effectively sealing the ductwork of a home could significantly reduce home energy usage but he had no idea that having his 2,600 sq.ft. Beacon Falls home aerosealed could be the best financial investment he made in years.

Dennis called ECS hoping that we could help him reduce the amount of energy used to heat and cool his home. He was also hoping that duct sealing would improve the comfort of his house – he told us that he was always struggling to get adequate heat and air conditioned air into all the rooms, both upstairs and down.

We arrived at Dennis home and quickly tested the ductwork for leaks. Like most homes in the U.S. today, we found the leaks in the HVAC system was causing Dennis to lose about 30% of the air he was paying to heat and cool each year. These leaks were not only responsible for wasted energy, but they most assuredly were also responsible for the uneven temperatures he was experiencing.

I explained to Dennis that while he could try to seal the leaks from the outside using special tape or mastic, most of the ductwork is hidden behind walls, under insulation or other hard-to-access locations. So unless he wanted to actually tear down walls to find the leaks, traditional sealing methods simply wouldn’t be effective enough to make much of a difference. I suggested that he consider having ECS seal his ductwork using a new technology developed by the U.S. Department of Energy called aeroseal.

Unlike traditional duct sealing, aeroseal works from the inside of the ductwork to seal leaks – I like to describe it as being like Fix-A-Flat for your ducts. By sealing from the inside, the sealant can find and seal all the leaks – even those in the most difficult-to-reach locations.

Dennis agreed that this was the smartest route and we scheduled a time to do the work.

We arrived in the morning and set up the equipment. This involved blocking the registers throughout the home and connecting a big tube from our aeroseal machine to a temporary hole we created in the ductwork. Now, with the registers blocked, when we blow sealant through the tube and into the interior of the ductwork, the only place that air could escape is through the leaks. And that’s exactly how the aeroseal process works. Microscopic particles of sealant and blown into the ductwork where they stay suspended in air until they come in contact with a leak. Here they cling to the edge of the leak and then to other sealant particles until the entire hole is filled.

It took us just a single afternoon to seal the leaks. The computerized reported generated at the end of the process showed that aerosealing reduced the rate of leakage by 97% – from 441 Cubic Feet per minute (CFM) to just 16 CFM.

Dennis told us that he could feel the difference right away. With the heat on, he could feel strong warm air coming out of vents that never seemed very active before.

“Given the data collected from my programmable thermostats, I can visually see that the furnace is NOT cycling on and off as frequently anymore,” Dennis told me. “The change is quite dramatic. My wife – and eternal skeptic – noted that the house has felt warmer and more consistent in temperature and of course more heat is coming through the vents. This is a real tangible evidence that the process works,” he added.

Given his calculations, Dennis expects that by aerosealing his ductwork, he will save about 30% on his annual utility bills – a savings that will pay for the aeroseal work in less than three years – “then all that savings from then on out is simply money in my pocket,” he said.

We find that in most every home in the Connecticut area that we test, leakage rates easily run 20% to 30% or more. If you were losing that much gas out of your tank every time you filled up your car, you’d have that leak repair, right?

If you want to learn more about Aeroseal, please visit the ECS website at www.ecs-aeroseal.com or give me a call at (203) 262-1064. I look forward to talking to you.

 

 

 

Energy Savings – The Rules Are A Changing

 

ENERGY SAVINGS – THE RULES ARE A CHANGING

NYT graphRemember when we were all taught about the 4 basic food groups and how meat and milk were essential to our good health? The rules on that one have certainly changed. How about the rule that bigger is better? Tell that to cell phone manufacturers, car companies and laptop makers.

The rules regarding saving energy have also changed. New technologies and shifting realities are showing us that what we once believed may need some rethinking.

If you look at the list of energy-saving tips offered by experts just five or six years ago, the idea of duct sealing is virtually absent. Instead, we were taught that projects such as replacing windows or insulating walls were the most effective strategies for saving home energy.

It’s not that experts didn’t know that leaks in the ductwork were the single biggest source of home energy waste.  It’s just that there really wasn’t an effective solution to the problem. Sure, you could use tape or mastic to manually seal some of the leaks. But most of the ductwork is located behind drywall, under insulation or simply impossible to reach.

So the problem was virtually ignored and advice to homeowners continued to focus on turning off lights and investing in Energy Star appliances. We were resigned to living in a world where the average home lost about 30 percent of its heating and cooling energy through leaks in the ductwork.

It was this gnawing reality that set the wheels in motion for the search for an effective solution. Around 1994, the U.S. Department of Energy got together with the Environmental Protection Agency, several utilities and others to invest in the research needed to finally solve this problem. They asked the scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to come up with a way to seal leaks throughout the duct system – even those that were hidden behind walls or that were otherwise unreachable. In addition, the solution had to be safe for use inside occupied homes. It had to work without negative interference with the proper operations of HVAC systems.  It had to be easy to apply and it had to be cost effective to use.

Quite a tall order.  You can only imagine how daunting a task this mission originally must have seemed to the LBNL team assigned to coming up with the solution.

Now that Aeroseal technology has arrived, the answer seems almost obvious. But it took real innovative thinking to literally flip the problem inside out in order to solve the puzzle. While traditional duct sealing methods work by covering leaks from the outside of the ductwork, the new approach would be the first and only solution to seal leaks from inside the ducts. If you could get small enough “sealers” to work inside the ducts, the entire system would be accessible. Walls and insulation would no longer be a concern.

And that’s exactly what the researchers did. The “sealers” came in the form of an aerosol mist. From there, the science gets even more amazing (and beyond the scope of this piece) but suffice it to say, the final solution met all the criteria set out by the DOE and others. Aeroseal technology is safe, it doesn’t coat the interior of the ductwork – just around the leaks, it’s very effective and it pays for itself in 2.5 – 7 years (compared to windows at 70 years and wall insulation at 90).

While duct sealing still is not on top of the list for most energy-minded Americans, it’s quickly getting there. Now that there is an effective/cost effective solution, the rules are beginning to reflect this new reality. A growing number of energy advocates – from the DOE and the EPA to local utility companies and green building certifiers – have begun to add duct sealing as one of the (if not the single top) most effective things homeowners can do to reduce their energy bill and increase indoor comfort.

Times change and innovations often reset the rules of the game. That is certainly the case when it comes to energy efficiency. With effective duct sealing technology a reality, duct sealing has quickly risen to the top of the list of things we can do to reduce energy costs. It’s easy to have done, it’s highly effective and it provides one of the fastest ROI’s you’ll find for any home improvement project. Something to consider the next time you’re putting on a sweater and lowering the thermostat.

Top Ten Questions Still Asked About Aeroseal

 

 

TOP TEN QUESTIONS STILL ASKED ABOUT AEROSEAL DUCT SEALING

 

aeroseal_animation_1slrThe word about aeroseal technology and the impact that duct leaks have on indoor comfort and energy savings is quickly spreading around the globe. But as with anything new, questions continue to arise about the technology, the process, the cost and the results. In fact, we are finding that there are about a dozen questions from homeowners and the professional HVAC community that seem to show up regularly on blog posts, Facebook pages and emails. Often times, these questions are followed by speculative answers or just plain misinformation.

So the crack team in our Question Processing Department (yeah, sure, we have one of those) put together a list of the most common questions we get about Aeroseal, along with answers you can trust.

If you have additional questions, pass them on and we’ll get you the answers.

Q1: Exactly how much money will a homeowner save by having his/her ducts aerosealed?

A: This is probably the number one question asked by most anyone thinking of having their home or building aerosealed. As you can imagine, the answer varies depending upon a variety of factors. If, for instance, you live in Kansas City where the furnace is likely in use 2/3rds of the year, you will save more than someone who lives in a milder city like Portland, Oregon. Your utility rate, the severity of leakage, the design of the HVAC system and other factors all influence your energy costs and the actual amount you will save with Aeroseal.

Not such a satisfying answer, I know. So let’s try this.

After years of aerosealing homes, we can provide average savings that others have realized. Homeowners in the Midwest, Northeast, and Mid Atlantic regions of the U.S. typically save $300 – $400 a year on utilities. Those in the Northwest, Southwest and South save $600 – $900 a year. And now the customary disclaimer… your mileage may vary.

Q2: How quickly will it take for a homeowner to get a return on his/her aeroseal investment?

A: This is really part two to the first question, and so the answer is very similar…it depends. Figures show that with all things considered, homeowners see an ROI on average in 2.5 to 5 years. My favorite anecdote to this question came from a homeowner who told me that when he showed his investment counselor the calculated energy savings he was expected to get from Aerosealing his home, he was told it was the best investment he could make. The broker said he couldn’t offer his client a single stock or investment option that would provide the type of return that he would be getting with Aeroseal.

Q3: How long will Aeroseal last?

A: Aeroseal has a ten-year warranty – but don’t confuse that with lifespan, which is much longer. Accelerated testing conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory resulted in Aeroseal showing no sign of deterioration in the aeroseal seals – and it continued to seal much past the life span of tape and mastic. It has been durability tested to over 40 years. It exceeds all UL standard tests for durability. So the guarantee – the strongest warranty in the industry – covers the contractor for 10 years for parts and labor for any failure in Aeroseal seal but Aeroseal seal itself has proven to last for decades.

Q4: Is it safe.

A: The aeroseal sealant itself consists of a vinyl acetate polymer. Its ingredients are those commonly found in hairspray and chewing gum. In other words, yes, it is very safe. It’s nontoxic (As certified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and it is UL approved.

Most telling however, is that aeroseal has been used at some of today’s most prestigious medical facilities – from the Mayo Clinic to Nemours Children’s Hospital. Day-to-day operations at these facilities often remained virtually uninterrupted during its application. It doesn’t get much safer than that.

Q5: How many homes have been aerosealed?

A: As of the end of 2013, nearly 100,000 homes have been sealed. Add about 200 additional homes to that figure on a weekly base.

Q6: Is there an odor?

A: At the time of application, there is a very mild odor, similar to that of Elmer’s glue. This dissipates completely within a few hours.

Q7: Will the ducts be covered with sealant?

A: Aeroseal does not coat the ductwork. It remains suspended in air until it comes to a leak and is forced to the opening. Here it clings to the edge of the hole and then to other sealant particles until the leak is completely sealed.

Q8: Does Aeroseal seal all leaks?

A: Aeroseal seals leaks as large as 5/8’’. This encompasses the overwhelming majority of problem leaks in today’s homes and buildings. The U.S. Department of Energy states that “small holes” are the biggest cause of duct leakage. These holes are found primarily along the ductwork seams and around fittings.

It is true that in some cases, portions of the ductwork become disconnected and Aeroseal, of course, cannot remedy this situation. But the Aeroseal process will alert the professional that this problem exists and allow him to address and fix this problem.

The bottom line is that, on average, Aeroseal effectively seals 95% or more of duct system leakage.

Q9: Will Aeroseal seal flex duct? Fiberglass lined ducts? Fiberboard ducts?

A: Yes, yes and yes. In fact, we’ve yet to come across ductwork that Aeroseal will not effectively seal. That includes cement and brick passageways as well.

Q:10: Why use Aeroseal when I can do it by hand with tape and mastic.

A: There are several reasons. First, it’s simply impossible to manually reach all the leaks in ductwork that has already been installed. The overwhelming majority of the duct is hidden or virtually impossible to access for manual sealing. If you want to have a real impact on energy savings and HVAC performance, you’ll need to reach and seal leaks throughout the entire duct system.

Even in new homes, we hear again and again about new ductwork that has been installed and meticulously sealed by hand, yet continues to under perform due to leaks. And if the manual sealing passed code when first installed, it often fails just months later following climate changes or other external factors.

With Aeroseal, you also get documentation of results. The process begins with a computerized analysis of the ductwork and ends with a post-test. You and your customers get a printout of the results that highlight the before and after results.

Lastly, it’s just better. Studies comparing the two show that Aeroseal is 60% more effective and 30% less expensive than manually sealing ductwork.

Have questions about Aeroseal? Let us know. We look forward to your comments.