Sealing Air Leaks Around Your Commercial Space Will Save Money and Energy
The efficiency and effectiveness of the HVAC system in your office, retail store or other commercial space depends on preventing air leaks. Air leaks, commonly found in the building’s structure or the HVAC ductwork, allow the loss of heated and cooled air. Not only does this waste energy and money, but it also increases your expenses. This is because your HVAC equipment must heat or cool additional air to make up for the loss. By finding and sealing air leaks in your commercial space, you’ll save substantial amounts of energy and will see noticeable reductions in your monthly heating and cooling costs.
Problems associated with air leaks
The waste of energy and money is not the only problem associated with air leaks. You may also experience issues such as:
- Inconsistent heating and cooling, including areas that receive too much or too little conditioning, or locations within your commercial building that can’t be adequately heated or cooled.
- Build-up of humidity and condensation that can damage merchandise, electronics, equipment and the basic structure of the building. Excess moisture can also lead to mold growth and increased numbers of insects and vermin.
- Reduced indoor air quality marked by increased amounts of particulates and other contaminants in the air.
- General discomfort and dissatisfaction with the performance of your HVAC system.
Finding and sealing air leaks
Before you can proceed with sealing air leaks in your commercial space, you have to know where they are. Some effective techniques include:
- Physical inspection: A physical search for air leaks can uncover cracks, holes, gaps and other openings where conditioned air can escape. Notice areas that are hotter or colder than expected and feel for air drafts throughout that area.
- Energy audit: An energy audit is a professional evaluation of your home by a qualified HVAC contractor. The audit will include a thorough visual inspection along with tests and evaluations that can show areas of energy loss. Thermographic imaging, for example, can show areas of heat loss that could be improved by adding more insulation. Surface thermometers indicate where wall surfaces are hotter or colder than expected. Smoke pencils produce a thin stream of smoke that will be affected by drafts, revealing the exact location of air leaks.
- Infiltrometer testing: A very effective way to check for air leaks is with an infiltrometer test. Also known as a blower door test, this procedure involves mounting a large fan in the frame of a door leading to the outdoors. When the fan is turned on, it pulls air out of the inside of the building and causes the pressure to drop. As a result, air is pulled in through openings in your building’s seal. Based on the results of the test, the auditor can determine if there is more air coming in than expected. With this information, the auditor can then pinpoint sources and begin sealing air leaks. Where to check when sealing air leaks
A few areas where air leaks commonly occur include:
- Doors and windows: Leaks frequently occur around window panes, door frames, and in the areas between the doors and windows and the frames.
- Light fixtures: Leaks can happen around light fixtures or the open soffits that hold recessed lights.
- Exhaust fans: Air leaks can occur around the outside of fan fixtures or through the fan itself.
- Wall penetrations: Areas where pipes, conduits, wires or other items enter your home from the outside.
- HVAC ductwork: The air distribution network that brings heated or cooled air from your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump.
- Crawl spaces: Open areas underneath your building.
- Sill plates: Areas where the building frame contacts the basement wall.
- Top plates: Areas where the frame contacts the attic wall and floor.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial and Residential settings. For more information about the benefits of sealing air leaks in your office, retail or commercial facility, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website! We serve clients in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.