Diagnostics and Testing
Do you want to improve your home's indoor air quality, uncomfortable room temperatures and humidity levels? Are you concerned about radon, carbon monoxide or mold growth in your home? Do you feel you are paying too much for your utility bills?
We provide home performance diagnostic services to help you identify the areas of your home needing improvements. Our home performance specialists utilize diagnostic equipment to aid in identifying these areas in your home and making recommendations on energy efficient retrofits. The results of this service can provide critical information about how your home is performing as a system before retrofits are made. Several of the diagnostic services and tests we offer for homeowners and home buyers include:
- HVAC: Does your air conditioner run all day and your rooms are still not comfortable or does your electric bill sky rocket when the hot summer months arrive? Improving the delivery of conditioned air to your rooms may be the answer you are searching for. The performance of your homes air duct system accounts for over 50% of the overall performance of your air conditioning system Think of your air conditioning system like your bodies heart and arteries. Arteries that do not function properly can slow or stop blood flow through the heart's blood vessels, leading to a heart attack. Increasing blood flow to the heart muscle can solve the problem. Your air conditioning system works the same way except with air of course. For a fraction of the cost of bypass surgery, we can perform several tests that help us pinpoint areas in the air duct system of your home needing improvements. These tests include duct leakage, supply air flow and velocity, return air flow and velocity and the difference in temperature between supply air and return air.
- Blower Door Test:
Air leaks in a home can lead to uncomfortable drafts, excessive humidity levels, poor indoor air quality, hot or cold rooms and ultimately high energy bills. Our home performance specialists use the blower door test to identify these hidden leaks in your home. During the blower door test, a precisely calibrated fan exhausts air from inside your home and creates an unnoticeable pressure difference between the inside and outside of the home. This pressure difference exaggerates air infiltration and makes it easier for us to identify air leakage areas. Since we are not capable of seeing air leaking with our own eyes, we use special tools like foggers, manometers, and thermal imagers in combination with the blower door to help us clearly see where outside air is leaking into your home.
The blower door also helps our home performance specialists assess if your home is getting adequate fresh air ventilation. This may be important in deciding if controlled fresh air mechanical ventilation is needed or if there is potential of backdrafting combustion appliances and creating a health problem. The results from this test will aid us in identifying the most cost effective methods for air sealing your home and providing fresh air ventilation if needed.
- Duct Leakage Test: Leaks in the HVAC air ducts is one of the most common problems found in homes. These leaks create indoor air quality problems by bringing outdoor pollutants into your home while the conditioned air you just paid for is leaves your home. Air ducts that are not sealed properly can leak over 30% of the conditioned air they carry to the outdoors. This can significantly increase your utility bills while preventing your cooling and heating system from operating efficiently and providing you with the comfort it should. We can easily determine if duct leakage is contributing to comfort problems and high utility bills in your home. By performing a duct leakage test, we will know how much air your ducts are leaking and be able to estimate your annual energy efficiency loss. After duct sealing is performed, our specialist can perform a post retrofit duct leakage test to ensure improvements are as expected.
- Moisture and Humidity: Does your home feel humid or clammy, do you see evidence of mold or mildew or do you have window condensation? If so, the relative humidity in your home is probably too high. This can lead to comfort and health problems, structural and insulation damage, musty odors, mold growth and termite problems. Air sealing , duct sealing and sealing your crawlspace are some of the most cost effective retrofits that reduce moisture and humidity problems while saving you money on energy bills.We use calibrated moisture meters and hygrometers to measure the moisture level of the building materials in your home and the relative humidity in the air. Our home performance specialists will provide recommendations on how to correct these problems before conditions worsen.
- Infrared Inspection: Thermal imaging can provide valuable information on hidden problems associated with insulation, air leaks, water leaks and condensation. For more information on this service please visit our page on infrared thermography evaluations.
- Exhaust Fan Flow: Are the exhaust fans in your bathrooms actually doing their job or just making noise and using electricity? The purpose of these fans is to remove unwanted air, especially hot humid air, from your living space. NC building code requires a minimum exhaust fan capacity of 50cfm for bathrooms. We can test the exhaust flow of these fans for you in just a few minutes to see if they are up to standards. Often times we can make a few modifications that significantly improve the performance of these fans. The exhaust flow of these fans is an important consideration when performing a combustion safety test.
- Fresh Air Mechanical Ventilation: We recommend installing fresh air mechanical ventilation in accordance with Energy Star Version 3 Guidelines in all homes. We use a blower door test to determine the tightness of your home and see if there may be health concerns if fresh air mechanical ventilation is not used. If you are interested in learning more about fresh air mechanical ventilation please click here to read a Mechanical Ventilation publication by Energy Star.
- Combustion Safety Testing: On average, nearly 200 people in the United States die every year from Carbon Monoxide (CO) produced by non-automotive consumer products. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu and include: fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. Carbon Monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas than can be emitted into your home from combustion appliances. These appliances burn fuel and typically include space heaters, furnaces, water heaters, ovens, ranges, clothes dryers and fireplaces. Our specialists use diagnostic equipment to test these appliances for combustion safety.
- Combustible Gas Detection: Combustible gas vapors can leak into homes from gas leaks in appliance connections or from stored gases or chemicals such as gasoline, propane, paint thinners, ammonia and industrial solvents. We can detect these gases in your indoor air and then identify the source so it can be fixed or removed from inside.
- Air pressure differences: Do you notice pressure differences within the rooms in your home? Probably not, but you may see the effects and pay the price for it. Air leaks, leaky duct work, blocked HVAC returns and supplies and closed doors can result in pressure differences from room to room in your home. If your cooling and heating system air flow is not balanced from room to room it may be causing conditioned air to leave your home through air leaks while unconditioned air is pulled into your home. Not having balanced air flow can reduce the overall efficiency of your HVAC system. Dust build up around the bottom edges of your walls or light fixtures on your ceilings are a good sign of air being sucked in and out of your home. This test identifies pressure differences caused by various circumstances and helps our home performance specialists find a solution to the problem.
We can offer any of these services independent of one another or provide them all in a comprehensive home energy assessment.