Home Design in RI & MA: duct leakage testing / locating ductwork within the conditioned space

Duct Leakage Testing and Energy Efficient Home Design
Duct leakage testing and Energy efficient home design

Duct Leakage Testing – in Rhode Island / Massachusetts

Author: Ed Beauchemin

Because of our relatively cold winters and hot summers, home design in Rhode Island & Massachusetts, requires planning and attention to detail so that energy efficiency goals can be easily met. Here we discuss some of the benefits of locating ductwork within the conditioned space (insulation boundary). While this may allow builders to avoid the need for duct leakage testing, it is still a good idea to perform one anyhow. Here’s why.

When is a duct leakage test required?

The current rules roughly state that before a governing authority can issue a certificate of occupancy for a new home or addition, a test shall be required whenever any amount of ductwork is located outside the conditioned space. Outside the conditioned space includes areas such as unfinished basements, crawlspaces and attics.

How to avoid the duct leakage test requirement while designing a better home.

When designing a new home or addition take the long view towards energy efficiency by including an HVAC plan that clearly details the location of the entire heating / cooling system within the conditioned space. No more ducts in basements, crawlspaces or attics.

Benefits of having ducts inside:

  • In most communities there may be no need for a duct leakage test. Since the entire system is now located within the conditioned space.
  • Your HVAC system may use up to 20% less energy. All conditioned air produced by the system is used within the conditioned space. No more waste to the outside. Very efficient!
  • May be able to reduce the system size because there isn’t any waste to the outside.
  • Simpler and shorter duct runs. This is where good planning in the design stage really pays off.
  • Great way to conform to evolving energy codes. This proactive approach may give you a leg up in most communities.
  • Potentially lower installation costs. Simply put, smaller heating and cooling units as well as shorter and simpler duct runs saves money.
  • Easier to install and inspect the system. Better working conditions when compared to working in basements, crawlspaces and attics. Technicians are able to do a more effective job.
  • Better indoor air quality. Eliminates the possibility of ducts pulling dirty air into the home from basements, crawlspaces and attics.
  • Competitive marketing advantage. Distinguish your home from other homes on the market.
  • Puts you on the path to Energy Star certification.
  • Finally, it’s common sense.

In future columns on Energy Efficient Home Design, we will be describing various methods for locating the entire HVAC system within the conditioned space.

Energy Geeks is a Home Performance Contractor whose primary focus is sustainability and efficiency as it pertains to energy use, water consumption, indoor air quality, land use and building design. Call us at 401-766-1540 or visit our website at www.energygeeksinc.com.