Study: Aerosol-based duct sealing superior to traditional sealing methods
Photo courtesy Aeroseal
Aerosol-based duct sealing proves more effective and produces a faster return on investment compared to traditional sealing methods, according to a new study.
Those benefits are particularly evident when access to ductwork is limited, the report showed.
The research from the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) examined the viability of duct sealing in commercial buildings, revealing that several criteria that could be used to help identify buildings most likely to realize significant energy and cost-saving benefits from duct sealing. Among them: system type, operating pressure, design flow and apparent tightness.
Highlights of the study, “Duct Leakage and Retrofit Duct Sealing in Minnesota Commercial and Institutional Buildings,” were presented by CEE Senior Research Engineer, Josh Quinnell at a recent Aeroseal-sponsored webinar.
“Duct leakage can result in a major hit on buildings’ energy use and cause a substantial increase in operating costs,” he said. “Our study identified key criteria to pinpoint those buildings that are most likely to experience leakage, and consequently benefit the most from duct sealing.”
The four criteria that can be helpful in identifying buildings with the biggest potential for energy savings include:
• System type: Exhaust systems, especially those traversing unconditioned space; supply systems located in ceiling plenum returns; or supply systems with fully ducted returns.
• Operating pressure: Operating pressure of at least 0.5-inch w.g. is acceptable, above 1-inch w.g. are preferred.
• Design flow: Design flows greater than 4,000 cfm are acceptable, greater than 10,000 cfm are preferred.
• Apparent tightness: Systems with existing sealant and systems of apparently tight construction (spiral, flanged and gasketed ductwork) are less likely to have substantial leakage.
The study also found that aerosol-based duct sealing was typically more effective than traditional duct sealing (tape/mastic), especially when the ducts were insulated or access to the entire duct system was limited.
“Using aeroseal technology, the median sealing rate was 86 percent and often reduced effectively to zero – among the highest energy conservation rates we’ve studied,” Quinnell said. “Our study predicts an average ROI of around seven years, achieved by first identifying the buildings best suited for sealing and then using the aerosol sealing process to do the work.”
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