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Regular airtightness tests were performed on 24 new houses, over periods of up to three years, to evaluate their air barrier systems and to search for evidence, air barrier degradation. Ten of the houses were constructed with polyethylene air barriers while the remaining 14 used an early version of the Airtight Drywall Approach (ADA). The 24 project houses were architecturally similar and of approximately equal size and general layout; stucco was the predominate exterior wall finish. All were exposed to similar terrain shielding.
The study found that the airtightness of the polyethylene air barrier houses remained stable over their respective monitoring periods. Although two of the ten houses demonstrated possible, albeit slight, evidence of airtightness degradation, the magnitude of these changes was small and judged not to be of practical significance. With respect to the critical issue of air barrier degradation, no evidence could be found to indicate polyethylene is unsuited for use as an air barrier material in residential construction. For example, all but one of the polyethylene houses met the airtightness requirements of the Canadian R-2000 Standard for energy efficient housing at the end of their monitoring periods.
The study found that the airtightness of the 14 ADA houses also remained stable over their monitoring periods. Although six of the 14 houses displayed possible, but slight, evidence of airtightness degradation, the magnitude of the changes was small and not of practical significance. It was concluded that no evidence could be found to indicate that the ADA system is unsuited for use in residential construction. All 14 ADA houses met the airtightness requirements of the R-2000 Program at the end of their respective monitoring periods.
residential airtightness, air leakage, blower door tests, air barriers, air barrier degradation, polyethylene air barriers, Airtight Drywall Approach
Proskiw Engineering Ltd., Winnipeg, Manitoba