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Big Changes for Duct Testing in MA

SWEISWEI Posts: 4,876Member ✭✭✭✭
From http://homeenergypros.lbl.gov/profiles/blogs/updated-big-changes-for-duct-testing-in-ma



If you have not been asked to complete a duct test by your local

Massachusetts Inspector, it is just a matter of time before you are

surprised by this stringent/updated code

requirement.  Despite some push-back from Contractors  and Inspectors,

all of MA is required to test new or altered duct systems.  All of MA

adopted the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), enforced

as of August 16, 2014.
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Comments

  • icesailoricesailor Posts: 7,265Member ✭✭✭✭
    Wringing of hands:

    There'll be a lot of hand wringing by those who have never sealed a piece of duct in their entire careers and see no need for it.
    · ·
  • SWEISWEI Posts: 4,876Member ✭✭✭✭
    Cost differential

    may actually help us in selling radiant :)
    · ·
  • Bob BonaBob Bona Posts: 1,350Member ✭✭✭
    already

    Being enforced in CT the last 2 years. I think it's great and weeds out the hacks. Don't forget to add in the test fee to quotes. 50 percent more labor time easily.
    · ·
  • JackJack Posts: 766Member ✭✭✭
    Here in CA

    the test requires a maximum of 6% leakage on either new construction or retrofit. Testing to be done by a third party. I guess they don't trust the original contractor to evaluate the system. Smart really. Google "DOEductleakage" and read for a while. DOE is saying the average home is loosing between 18-42% of its energy in duct loss. Necessary repairs will be costly and then the homeowner will have to pay for the new equipment. On a commercial job, if you don't pass the pressure test, you don't get paid. In the residential market there has never been a requirement for it, other than good sense. At least in MA you have a basement into which the duct is installed. In other parts of the country it is crawl spaces and attics. Imagine you are the guy who does the duct repair. "Oh, boy! I get to crawl under the house today, tomorrow, all week..." It's a job, but who is going to do it and do it well?



    Anyway, this to my mind has been the "crazy aunt in the back room" that the Unitary manuf don't want to talk about. They can put all the technology they want in the box. They can't deliver it. Their problem is they are strapped over poorly installed ducting.



    I do see it as an opportunity for hydronics. Hydro air systems to small air handlers. Small duct, small pipe, zones, combinations of panel rads, radiant, etc. A lot of positives from a business, economy and comfort perspective.



    The other side is the "Net to the Space" side of things. When I moved west the 5 yr old central system in the house was so poorly done that there was no way to save it. It wasn't the equipment. It was the duct work. Huge leakage in a crawl space from 10-30" deep. I pulled 100% of the duct work and took the whole system to the dump and installed a couple mini-splits and a couple Energysavers. Nicely zoned heating and cooling. Excellent comfort and economy. Quiet, which the central system was not.



    In consideration of the 18-42% leakage and its implications, I think the duct testing is the correct thing to do. It will be interesting watching how this develops.
    · ·
  • icesailoricesailor Posts: 7,265Member ✭✭✭✭
    Duct Testing & Heat Loss/gain:

    Its all well and good to test for air leakage in duct work. Especially if it isn't sealed.

    IMO, what's worse is improperly insulated duct work in unconditioned spaces like attics or crawl spaces. Especially attics. I've seen expert installers cover metal duct work for heat/ac with (claimed) R-20 bubble wrap sheets. Sure it is.

    I had the 30+ year old fiberglass flex duct replaced in my Florida Condo. I thought it might be R-2. I wanted R-8 duct. They don't do R-8 in Florida. It cost too much so the choice is R-6. The did awesome job of replacement. Every joint really well sealed. So I had them replace the whole rest of the system. It cost more to run the new system than the old. Why? Because they raised up the duct work off the insulated attic floor space and not the whole duct was exposed to 130+ degree summer attic temperatures and the very poorly insulated attic floor. When the AC would come on, it would blow hot air out until the ducts cooled off. I had the attic insulated with an additional R-30+ of blown in insulation. What a difference. The energy use went way down and the building cools lower and faster.

    Its a waste to get all sweaty about duct leakage when you still ignore heat loss/gain through the building.

    Kind of like residential fire sprinkler systems in private residences done with PEX and on a 4 GPM 1/2 HO well pump. A waste of the homeowners money but lines the pockets of someone else.
    · ·
  • A.J.A.J. Posts: 239Member ✭✭
    Furnace example

    Here is one for you . I am trying to help out someone that had installed a 140,000 BTU input oil furnace into a house that only requires 48,300 BTUs, it has only six 6" runs coming of it, what do you think of that ? When the heat exchanger finally burns up we can just contribute it to the fact that they just  didn't build it like they used to. I for one would welcome system testing in Pa. If all the systems installed in our country worked like they should, just think of all the energy we could save.

    Just my two cents
    · ·
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